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exile

Scottish films, books etc that are not stereotypically Scottish

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Watching that programme last night about Scottish cultural stereotypes in film & TV (with Sanjeev Kohli) and was a bit surprised at how stereotypical some of the Scottishness seemed - kilts whisky scenery angry men etc. Of course the stereotyping was partly the point. But it got me thinking about are there good examples of good cultural products - film TV or books etc - that are not 'about Scottishness' or trying to be Scottish yet are unmistakably Scottish.

I guess partly I am getting at things that people from anywhere might appreciate, people who needn't be interested in Scotland at all, but find something worth watching as it tells a good story etc.

The best example I thought of was Gregory's Girl which if I remember hasn't any overt references to 'Scotland' and is maybe only locatable by a road sign at the very end (pointing to Glasgow and Edinburgh, if I remember). Yet it feels unmistakeably of its place and time. Yet it's something others could get something out of...

(it's possible Trainspotting could sneak into that category, if you removed the 'colonised by w-----s' scene - which for me didn't seem essential to the story at all. Although set in Edinburgh it tells a story that could have been in many urban areas around Scotland... [even dare i say the Hibs references could replaced by another local team and it could have worked as well, if set in Dundee or Dunfermline etc? 'discuss....']) 

 

Edited by exile

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I'd nominate the great English film director Michael Powell's two superb films set in the Western Isles - "The Edge of the World" and "I Know Where I'm Going". Two beautiful films. The former with a tragic theme and a real docu-drama feel to it. The latter is a more upbeat, life affirming affair.

The book (by Muriel Spark) and film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" would be another one one too.

This may be an uncommon choice but I loved Comfort and Joy most out of all Bill Forsyth's films. An honourable mention too for "That Sinking Feeling". 

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33 minutes ago, ErsatzThistle said:

I'd nominate the great English film director Michael Powell's two superb films set in the Western Isles - "The Edge of the World" and "I Know Where I'm Going". Two beautiful films. The former with a tragic theme and a real docu-drama feel to it. The latter is a more upbeat, life affirming affair.

The book (by Muriel Spark) and film "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" would be another one one too.

This may be an uncommon choice but I loved Comfort and Joy most out of all Bill Forsyth's films. An honourable mention too for "That Sinking Feeling". 

Great shouts all round.  Miss Jean Brodie is a must (re)read for me this year.

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Slight deviation

 

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6 minutes ago, Ally Bongo said:

Slight deviation

 

I don't think I've seen a better example of the Scottish Cringe

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I recommend Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray.  Unashamedly stolen Amazon's overview as it describes the book rather well.

Lanark, a modern vision of hell, is set in the disintegrating cities of Unthank and Glasgow, and tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw. A work of extraordinary imagination and wide range, its playful narrative techniques convey a profound message, both personal and political, about humankind's inability to love, and yet our compulsion to go on trying.

Widely recognised as a modern classic, Alasdair Gray's magnum opus was first published in 1981 and immediately established him as one of Britain's leading writers. Comparisons have been made to Dante, Blake, Joyce, Orwell, Kafka, Huxley and Lewis Carroll. This timely new edition should cement his reputation as one of our greatest living writers.

 

I first read it in the early 80's and it made a massive impression on me.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Lanark-Life-Books-Canongate-Classics-Alasdair-Gray/1841959073

 

 

 

 

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16 hours ago, Fish Gills Mcginty said:

Local Hero, the sense of belonging in that film always get me.

 

And the lovely soundtrack

A good film that is was, Local Hero played on pretty much every Scottish stereotype.

Gregory's Girl was a far, far better film in the sense that it actually reflected real life, and people could relate to it. No kilts, haggis, whisky, violence or the usual south of England version of what they feel Scots should look like.

Every single teenager in 1981 could instantly emphasise with the awkward, gangliness of it all. It's the perfect snapshot into a certain point of life at a certain time, and it's a classic.

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The tv adaptation of The Crow Road would be a good example of a story set in Scotland rather than a purely Scottish story. There were Scots' references right through it but nothing that would detract from its universal appeal.

There are actually loads of other similar examples but Sanjeev's programme was focused on picking out stereotypical examples (which was ok to do for a Hogmanay piece of fluff).

Edited by Toepoke

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1 minute ago, Toepoke said:

 

There are actually loads of other similar examples but Sanjeev's programme was focused on picking out stereotypical examples.

That's true.

Anyone interested in the Scottish cringe and why it came about should watch this programme. For decades Scots were force-fed a diet of how the outside world believed we should be.

Caelidhs, bagpipes, tartan, whisky, hard drinking, aggression, meanness. That's how the outside world saw Scotland and the Scots, and that's how we were continually portrayed on TV and on the big screen.

Very little else of anything was portrayed of Scotland up until around the 80's.

No wonder older Scots often have a lack of confidence in being Scottish.

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2 hours ago, EddardStark said:

I recommend Lanark: A Life in Four Books by Alasdair Gray.  Unashamedly stolen Amazon's overview as it describes the book rather well.

Lanark, a modern vision of hell, is set in the disintegrating cities of Unthank and Glasgow, and tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw. A work of extraordinary imagination and wide range, its playful narrative techniques convey a profound message, both personal and political, about humankind's inability to love, and yet our compulsion to go on trying.

Widely recognised as a modern classic, Alasdair Gray's magnum opus was first published in 1981 and immediately established him as one of Britain's leading writers. Comparisons have been made to Dante, Blake, Joyce, Orwell, Kafka, Huxley and Lewis Carroll. This timely new edition should cement his reputation as one of our greatest living writers.

 

I first read it in the early 80's and it made a massive impression on me.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/d/Books/Lanark-Life-Books-Canongate-Classics-Alasdair-Gray/1841959073

 

 

 

 

I really struggled with this book, and that is coming from someone who ploughed through Lord of the Rings aged 14 and stuck with Cloud Atlas to the end, despite no really having a clue what it was about. 

I didnt read an overview of Lanark right enough so may give it another go. My husband recommended it , he got it free on his kindle.  Unfortunately my concentration levels are now not what they used to be. From a scottish perspective i am more likely to read Christopher Brookmyre books, hardly classics  I know  but they hold my attention. 'A tale etched in blood and hard black pencil'  had me laughing out loud . A must read for people of a certain age and political class. 

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2 hours ago, TDYER63 said:

I really struggled with this book, and that is coming from someone who ploughed through Lord of the Rings aged 14 and stuck with Cloud Atlas to the end, despite no really having a clue what it was about. 

I didnt read an overview of Lanark right enough so may give it another go. My husband recommended it , he got it free on his kindle.  Unfortunately my concentration levels are now not what they used to be. From a scottish perspective i am more likely to read Christopher Brookmyre books, hardly classics  I know  but they hold my attention. 'A tale etched in blood and hard black pencil'  had me laughing out loud . A must read for people of a certain age and political class. 

Re' classics; I knew I was 'grown up' the day I said "Gregory's Girl, Bus Stop  and Arthur" in answer to the "What's your favourite films' question. I watched and read the classics, or rather I tried to, read some of them and managed others. I was a would be pretentious wee lovey who read crime novels on the sly. I spoke on Don Quixote for years purely from watching the musical, Man of La Mancha. Eventually read it through by the side of a pool in Cyprus and bloody loved it. Ulysses can away an' swing though.  So I stopped 'ploughing' through books and only read what gripped me, until Lanark. I only started as I recognised the twat raving about them as a copy of a younger me and just felt he hadn't really read them. (I've dropped the pretension but the pettiness is alive and well.) So I ploughed through the first and danced through the rest. So he was a twat but I never called him on it as he introduced me to Mr Gray's words.  

From memory I think Iain Banks novels aren't necessarily 'Scottish'. 

Edited by G-Man

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Thanks for the answers. A lot of good material there!

The 80s vibe reminds me of The Girl in the Picture too. And Tutti Frutti.

And then from 90s Crow Road… something reminded me of Morvern Callar (though I didn’t see the film, not sure if any good).  

With hindsight there must be more than enough books in this category; so maybe better to restrict to film and TV, where maybe the real challenge is. Lanark – is it filmable? Maybe in the right hands…?

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2 hours ago, G-Man said:

Re' classics; I knew I was 'grown up' the day I said "Gregory's Girl, Bus Stop  and Arthur" in answer to the "What's your favourite films' question. I watched and read the classics, or rather I tried to, read some of them and managed others. I was a would be pretentious wee lovey who read crime novels on the sly. I spoke on Don Quixote for years purely from watching the musical, Man of La Mancha. Eventually read it through by the side of a pool in Cyprus and bloody loved it. Ulysses can away an' swing though.  So I stopped 'ploughing' through books and only read what gripped me, until Lanark. I only started as I recognised the twat raving about them as a copy of a younger me and just felt he hadn't really read them. (I've dropped the pretension but the pettiness is alive and well.) So I ploughed through the first and danced through the rest. So he was a twat but I never called him on it as he introduced me to Mr Gray's words.  

From memory I think Iain Banks novels aren't necessarily 'Scottish'. 

I will give it another go then, once I have finished The Time Travellers Wife. My attempt  at ' science fiction' ...... 

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5 hours ago, TDYER63 said:

I will give it another go then, once I have finished The Time Travellers Wife. My attempt  at ' science fiction' ...... 

I really liked TTTW, film wasn't too bad. Have you read The Book Thief, if not try it next? 

Wasp Factory is my favourite Bank's book and although set in Scotland it's not necessarily 'Scottish'  

Exile, have a look for The Book Group. It was on a few years ago and I remember really enjoying it yet can't remember if it was fully reliant on being set in Glasgow and Glaswegian 'ways'.  Plus Michelle Gomez was in it and I'd happily watch her read out the telephone directory. 

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1 minute ago, G-Man said:

I really liked TTTW, film wasn't too bad. Have you read The Book Thief, if not try it next? 

Wasp Factory is my favourite Bank's book and although set in Scotland it's not necessarily 'Scottish'  

Exile, have a look for The Book Group. It was on a few years ago and I remember really enjoying it yet can't remember if it was fully reliant on being set in Glasgow and Glaswegian 'ways'.  Plus Michelle Gomez was in it and I'd happily watch her read out the telephone directory. 

Excellent mention. Pretty sure all the episodes available on 4OD too. Very funny series.

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30 minutes ago, G-Man said:

I really liked TTTW, film wasn't too bad. Have you read The Book Thief, if not try it next? 

Wasp Factory is my favourite Bank's book and although set in Scotland it's not necessarily 'Scottish'  

Exile, have a look for The Book Group. It was on a few years ago and I remember really enjoying it yet can't remember if it was fully reliant on being set in Glasgow and Glaswegian 'ways'.  Plus Michelle Gomez was in it and I'd happily watch her read out the telephone directory. 

OK, cool, thanks

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16 hours ago, G-Man said:

I really liked TTTW, film wasn't too bad. Have you read The Book Thief, if not try it next? 

Wasp Factory is my favourite Bank's book and although set in Scotland it's not necessarily 'Scottish'  

Exile, have a look for The Book Group. It was on a few years ago and I remember really enjoying it yet can't remember if it was fully reliant on being set in Glasgow and Glaswegian 'ways'.  Plus Michelle Gomez was in it and I'd happily watch her read out the telephone directory. 

I havent read either of those , thanks. I suppose I will now need to book a holiday somewhere to get the chance to read all these. What a chore that will be...

I would also give the Book Group a watch  but I have banished Michelle Gomez since finding out she is married to Jack Davenport, my heartthrob since he was in This Life :-)  

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Can I put forward the film regeneration now called behind the lines. The film is based on the pat Barker book of the same name.its based in the first world war in the craiglockheart war hospital. I am slightly biased due to the fact that I was an extra in it but I would say it is still a very powerful film looking at the effects of shell shock in the officers. Johnathan pryce plays an excellent part as dr rivers and shows his slow decline from being fine through his decent into shock through reliving the horrors that his patients have experienced

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Under the Skin. Where an alien female goes round Glasgow in a van picking up men for unstated (perhaps gastronomic) purposes.

There are also scenes at a beach, on country roads and woods, with some shots of mist and snowy mountains.

under-the-skin-18.jpg

 

under-the-skin-2013-006-laura-in-fuschia

undertheskin3.jpg?w=490&h=275

Although many of the locations are clearly of Glasgow and Scotland, the film doesn't seem essentially about Scotland/Scottishness in any significance sense. The one reference to Scotland is at the beach where the alien asks a Czech surfer type why he came to Scotland, and he says it's nowhere, or a sort of a nowhere place (or words to that effect). Almost as if to emphasise the disconnect. The shots of the shopping centre,  castle, mountains or moorland,  and so on, could probably have been any shopping centre, (anywhere with mountains and castles, etc.) In fact it's almost a wonder they didn't go full Holywood and film it in Cincinnati Ohio or Boise Idaho .

However, as actually filmed, it does have a typical Scottish feel, the streets, the housing estates, the landscapes, the people...

under-the-skin-2.jpg

One local detail is when she goes to Parkhead and later picks up a (real) Hibs supporter. 

At first he can't believe his luck, but has a gris(tly) end.

(Something Scottish about that?)

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I don't have time to read all the above but:

One film that sticks out is Orphans. It's a movie that does not get enough credit.

Ratcatcher does get credit but it's probably been mentioned already.

 

A book that stands out for me is Children of the dead end. I don't even know if that would qualify as Scottish but it's mostly set in Scotland. All slightly morbid examples but f*** it.

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On 1/2/2017 at 10:07 AM, Rossy said:

A good film that is was, Local Hero played on pretty much every Scottish stereotype.

Gregory's Girl was a far, far better film in the sense that it actually reflected real life, and people could relate to it. No kilts, haggis, whisky, violence or the usual south of England version of what they feel Scots should look like.

Every single teenager in 1981 could instantly emphasise with the awkward, gangliness of it all. It's the perfect snapshot into a certain point of life at a certain time, and it's a classic.

You can't really comment on those two and not give a mention to the 'prequel', That Sinking Feeling.

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