7 Films that Perfectly Portray Contemporary Scotland

If there is one scene that Scottish people are truly fond of, it is the breaking of the zombie apocalypse in World War Z (2013) that reveals scenic George Square rooted in Glasgow. The big Hollywood success for Glaswegians (!), that is, If we don’t count the many Scottish actors, who are virtually everywhere, from movies to TV series. Interestingly enough, the same Glaswegian area has also been featured in Cloud Atlas (2012), although the producers of the latter had rather decided on moving a few blocks higher to the hill streets of the University of Strathclyde. It is no wonder that a dreamy production such as Stardust (2007) has also borrowed places from Scotland, namely, the Highlands, to convey the fairytale atmosphere of the country combined with the warmth of its local people.

Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to some of the most emblematic titles from the last decade concerned with the representation of contemporary Scotland. Some of them are well-known, others to be freshly discovered. Hopefully, I’ll manage to bring my endless love for this beautiful place closer to your hearts!

7.Made of Honor (2008)


This is beyond a trace of doubt the Hollywood version of Scotland, which doesn’t make it any less true. Made of Honor is definitely a funny and rather easy-going production that still manages to capture the magical essence of Scotland and the cheeky nature of its people. Nonetheless, it still feels like a representation from the outside rather than one that derives from the heart of Scottish culture and traditions. Its plot revolves around Hannah (Michelle Monaghan) who leaves on a six-week work trip to the country while her best friend, Tom (Patrick Dempsey), is to finally realize that he’s in love with her. When she comes back, however, she’s already engaged to a Scotsman, Colin (Kevin McKidd).

6.Under the skin (2013)


The most experimental production and likely the darkest narrative in the list is also known as the film that brought Scarlett Johansson to Scotland. Capturing some of the key locations of Glasgow, but not limited to, Under the Skin strikes as a rather ordinary yet rather very unusual depiction of the city, especially having the unknown nature of the Female protagonist. In one sentence, this is an exploration from an extraterrestrial point of view of the life and people in Scotland. As bizarre as it may sound, it is a consuming and powerful experience, well worth giving it a shot, even if you don’t actually make it to the end, for, ultimately, this can hardly be described as everyone’s cup of tea.

5.We Are Northern Lights (2013)


This one of a kind documentary about Scotland resembles a lot a project made in 2011, Life in A Day, where filmmakers all over the world captured one single day – 24 July, 2010. We Are Northern Lights instead collected materials for three months so as to gather information and materials from a variety of sources in order to build a faithful visual description of contemporary Scotland. It is an interesting experiment that manages to capture different angles and opinions, that succeeds in creating something unique, that portrays the country in a distinctive manner.

4.T2 Trainspotting 2 (2017)


Twenty years after the first film, T2 brings to the screen the legendary characters back to life and their renown reputation of being truly, fully, shamelessly Scottish! It’s a game of cat and mouse between Renton and Franco, a friendly catch up with Spud and Simon, the action jumping from Edinburgh to Glasgow, while predominantly portraying the former. T2 is a nostalgic jump in time, while simultaneously bringing the attention to the present, be it filled with remnants of the past, or rather carrying the promises for the future.

3.Filth (2013)


“Scotland. This nation brought the world television, the steam engine, golf, whiskey, penicillin, and of course, the deep-fried Mars bar. It is great being Scottish. We’re such a uniquely successful race.” This is how Filth welcomes you, as you see James McAvoy explore the streets of Edinburgh, the streets as colourful as its people! Filth is a darker and a much more cynical representation of the country, one that surprisingly well addresses some of the most common Scotsmen’s quirks. It is, after all, only you’ve lived long enough in a place that you can both love its treasures and its flaws, call it home, or abandon it forever. The film tells the story of Bruce, a corrupt bipolar detective whose in pursuit of a promotion, regardless of the means. In the long run, Filth is a brutally honest and truly hilarious contemporary account of Scotland!

2.The Angels’ Share (2012)


Ken Loach’s films are known to be about people, often featuring a cast with non-professional actors. The Angels’ Share is no exception. It tells the story of Robbie whose problematic life finally gets a new meaning – to be a good father to his newborn son. Regardless of his promises to change, his criminal past somewhat catches up with him for one final whiskey heist. Loach’s film has everything that you can possibly connect Scotland to and more, from whiskey to Irn-Bru, from witty humor to swearing, all the way to walking 500 miles with the colourful traditional kilts on. The Angels’ Share is absolutely funny, full of references and surprises, a film that’s true to contemporary Scotland and, what’s more, a film that’s easy to love.

1.Where You’re Meant To Be (2016)


If I had to choose one film to describe today’s Scotland – the contemporary mixed with centuries of history and culture – it would be this one! Where You’re Meant To Be is a beautiful exploration of the country’s roots, people and authenticities. Paul Fegan’s film is anything but short of humor and heartfelt moments! It follows the tale of the Scottish indie pop artist Aidan Moffat whose ambition to re-write traditional folk songs brings him to meet one of the great old folk singers, Sheila Stewart. The film is as much an account of his tour as it is an account of contemporary Scotland!

Let’s not forget that 2017 is also the year that’s set to bring the Scottish flag to the set of emojis – about time!

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