The Highlander has been the center of the historical romance novels captivating the imagination of millions of avid female readers all over the globe for a long time. “To Tame a Highland Warrior” “The Highlander’s Touch” “ The Highlander’s Kiss”, In Bed with the Highlander” “Never Seduce a Scot” are just some of the titles that appear on Goodreads and Amazon. There are, virtually, hundreds of books set in the Highlands of Scotland where the Highlander is the laird, the loner, the warrior, the faithful companion, the ruler or the rebel. He is just, brave and loyal. He is always unveiled as the ultimate hero both as a romantic leading man and as a human being. You can rarely find a fault in him.
However, in movies and television series, the Highlander is a rather shy presence. I counted only six (!) Scottish/Highland characters ( 4 movies and 2 tv series) that have impacted the viewers one way or another .
1. The Highlander
The first Highlander I remember seeing on the big screen was, of course, The Highlander, released in 1986. Christopher Lambert – a French actor (lol) – was Connor McLeod, a Scottish immortal who had to face other immortals from all over the world so that“ There can be only one.”
The best part of the film was not the present (although it had its glorious moments), but the past, explaining the mythology of Connor’s immortality and especially his love story with Heather who dies of old age in his arms. Who can’t forget Queen’s “Who wants to live forever” ?
Curious fact: Sean Connery (a Scottish man by birth and right) also got a part in the film, but he played the role of a Spaniard. The film was followed by other four films, but none of them matched the success of the original, nor did they returned to the Scottish/Highland origins.
2. The Highlander:The Series
Adrian Paul starred in the reboot for the TV The Highlander: The Series which “co-produced in syndication by international partners including Gaumont, RTL Plus (Germany), Rysher Distribution (United States), Reteitalia Productions (Italy), Amuse Video (Japan) and TF1 (France).” (Wikipedia).
Another famous Scottish hero that marked the history of the cinema is, without any doubt, Braveheart. Produced and directed by Mel Gibson, Braveheart tells the story of William Wallace, the 14th century Scottish hero. Although the script took numerous liberties in relating the historical events, the story – and the hero – managed to be compelling and complex. The movie was awarded in 1996 with the Best Picture Award at the Academy Award Ceremony while being a box office success.
4. Mrs. Brown
Speaking of Oscar Academy, there is another extraordinary moving picture that has a historically important Scottish person in the leading role: Mrs. Brown (1997). Billy Connolly portrayed John Brown, a simple Scottish servant who caused the uproar at the British court in when he befriended the majestic, but bereaved Queen Victoria in 1863. Mrs. Brown was initially thought as a TV movie, but the exquisite and poignant performances of both Billy Connolly and Dame Judy Dench, catapulted the film to the big screen leading for a nomination for the best Actress in the leading role.
5. Rob Roy
Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange and Tim Roth, makes it as the fourth entry on this list. Released in 1995, the film had a lukewarm reception, even though Tim Roth was nominated for the Best Supporting Role at the Oscars.
Last but not the least on the list, Outlander. 20 years ago Diana Gabaldon wrote the first book of a series that would become a best selling sensation. The author admitted that she had never visited Scotland before writing the novels ( Imagination rules!) and that she had done it only after signing her contract for another 3 books. (dailyrecord.co.uk). Starz partnered with Sony Pictures Television to produce the series in 2013. It is currently broadcast on Starz every Saturday at 9 p.m. In case you haven’t seen the series yet, Outlander narrates the story of Claire Beauchamp, a married nurse who time-travells to 18th century Scotland where she meets the love of her life, Jamie Fraser.
Do you know another movie or TV series featuring a Highlander?