Scottish Reels

To celebrate the arrival of our very first BFI Mediatheque in Scotland, this extensive collection immerses the viewer in life north of the border, explored in over a century of film and TV from the BFI National Archive and Scottish Screen Archive.

Whisky Galore (1949)

Whisky Galore (1949)

You’ll find tartan, Sean Connery, and epic Highland vistas aplenty, but picture-postcard Scotland is just part of the story. The earliest films spotlight industry and commerce in the Edwardian era. Politics loom large in groundbreaking TV drama (Culloden, 1964; The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil, 1974) and autobiography (Bill Douglas’ bleak and beautiful Trilogy, 1972-78). The Gaelic language is here (Machair, 1993), alongside the anarchic strain of Scottish TV comedy (Absolutely, 1989; Rab C Nesbitt, 1992). Meanwhile, classic and contemporary features from The Wicker Man (1973) and Local Hero (1983) to Shallow Grave (1994) contribute to the mythology of both rural and urban spaces. Something for everyone – Scots and Sassenachs alike!

Ten to try

Jamaica Street, Glasgow (1901)
A breathtaking glimpse of city life on the cusp of the Edwardian era, courtesy of Messrs Mitchell & Kenyon.

Tartans of the Scottish Clans (1906)
Plenty of kilts (but no Celts) in this early colour marvel by pioneer GA Smith.

St Kilda – Britain’s Loneliest Isle (1928)
Take a voyage from Glasgow to St Kilda: precious scenes of the Western Isles and crofting life.

Whisky Galore! (1949)
Ealing’s gently subversive comic favourite about whisky-smuggling in the Hebrides.

The Kilties are Coming (1951)
Meet the Royal Kiltie Juniors, a predominantly female variety act who can turn their hand to singing, dancing and comedy.

The Heart is Highland (1952)
British Transport Films’ nostalgic colour ode to the life and landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, and the area’s romantic, dramatic past.

Gregory’s Girl (1980)
John Gordon Sinclair stars in Bill Forsyth’s much-loved comedy of the travails of teenage love.

The Ship (1990)
Powerful production of Bill Bryden’s spectacular shipbuilding drama, filmed in Harland & Wolff’s shed in Govan, Glasgow.

Red Road (2006)
Andrea Arnold’s stark thriller about a CCTV operator at Glasgow’s condemned Red Road estate, as she tracks the man who destroyed her life.

New Town (2009)
Mark Gatiss stars as a comically po-faced architect in Annie Griffin’s left-field BBC Four murder mystery, set in Edinburgh’s upscale Georgian district.

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