Rob Roy MacGregor: Part rogue, part folk hero, the story of Rob Roy MacGregor was first told in Rob´s own lifetime by the writer Daniel Defoe. He was later portrayed in a novel by Sir Walter Scott, so it is hardly surprising that, later still, he should also have been the subject of attention from film-makers. There was a silent epic from 1922 with a cast of 2000, filmed around Loch Lomond.
Then Walt Disney took up the story. With the big-budget film industry’s usual preference for legend and dramatic action rather than accurate historical detail, Rob Roy (1953) was an exciting film, starring Richard Todd in the title role, with action sequences set in the hills above Loch Ard. Highlanders and redcoats, swords, targes (Highland shields) and roaring cannon provided plenty of excitement. Misty hills and snow patches added extra atmosphere. (The extras were from the local regiment the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.)
Apart from providing the filming locations for scenes from Geordie and The Thirty Nine Steps Balquhidder has another large input into film making in Scotland. The area around Balquhidder was the home of original Rob Roy McGregor who is buried in Balquhidder churchyard. The story of Rob Roy has been told in five movies stretching from the first film in 1911 to the 1995 movie starring Liam Neeson as Rob Roy.
39 Steps 1959: The chain on Richard Hanneys bicycle breaks while he crosses a bridge. This was filmed at the bridge over the River Balvag at Balquhidder. All of the following scenes up until he arrives at Glenkirk House were also filmed in Balquhidder. The Tearoom at Brig O’ Turk also featured in the 1959 version and can be seen on the left.
Monty Python & the Holy Grail:In 1974 Doune Castle became one of the film locations of the British comedy film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. The movie is a parody of King Arthur made by the Python Team which also produced the successful film “Life of Brian” in 1979. Since 2004, many visitors pilgrimage to Doune for the “Annual Python Day”.
Stirling Castle was used for the TV series ‘Colditz’ in 1970 because the exterior has some similarities with the Colditz Castle in Germany. The drama was about the Allied POW’s who tried to escape from the castle during World War II when the castle was used as a military prison.
In 2011 The Hollywood film ‘The Eagle’ a story about the disappearance of a Roman Legion in the year 140 AD was partly filmed in The Trossachs with scenes of Loch Lomond in the movie. Other areas of Scotland were also used in the film such as Achiltibuie in Wester Ross.
Scotland’s popularity as a destination for film locations continues to grow not just for its stunning scenery but also the cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh feature often as film locations. Lets hope that the current Scottish Governments love affair with wind turbines does not kill of the outdoor film making potential!