From the major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, to the beautiful landscapes and grand castles of the Highlands, Scotland has plenty of rich history and awesome scenery waiting for you to discover. Here are some of the top critically-acclaimed movies that were filmed on location telling authentic Scottish stories to prepare you for your own experience in Scotland:
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1. Braveheart (1995)
Directed by and starring Mel Gibson and nominated for 10 Academy Awards, Braveheart is one of the most well-known films that takes place in Scotland. Fictionally based off of the 13th century Scottish warrior William Wallace, Braveheart tells the story of how this righteous warrior led the Scots into the first war of independence against King Edward I of England. Full of tremendous action, drama, and romance, this movie of epic length gives a gorgeous picture of Scottish countryside, as well as a story that you will never forget.
2. Trainspotting (1996)
Although this dark comedic crime picture isn’t a realistic portrayal of Edinburgh today, Trainspotting is still worth viewing and will give you an inside glimpse into the challenges experienced by a group of heroin users in an economically disadvantaged region of Scotland’s capital city. Following a series of characters transit through life, this film starring Ewan McGregor is a fascinating movie not intended for the faint of heart. Filled with dynamic people, shot in Glasgow Scotland, and ranked 10th by the British Film Institute, Trainspotting may not be known for showing all of Scotland’s glory, but it serves as a realistic reminder of the dangers of heroin usage.
3. The Illusionist (2010)
Based on an unproduced script written by French mine, actor, and director, Jacques Tati, this French-British animated picture conveys what it’s like to be a part of a dwindling spectrum of entertainment in 1959 Edinburgh. Moving from France to London, eventually amusing the residents on a secluded Scottish Island, The Illusionist comes to Edinburgh and is followed by a young girl named Alice, who is persuaded that he possesses actual magical powers. This deep gloomy film is magical in more ways than one, complete with Edinburgh scenery and beautiful plot that shows the capital of Scotland in a unique way.
4. Rob Roy (1995)
Biographical historical drama film Rob Roy follows the 18th century Scottish Clan leader as he fights to defend his family and his livelihood from an unscrupulous aristocrat in the Scottish Highlands. This historical adventure was shot fully on location in Scotland and features stunning landscapes from the Scottish Highlands as well as spectacular performances from its cast members. It is an ideal film for anyone interested in Scottish history to understand a little more about clan life in the Scottish Highlands by seeing Rob Roy.
5. Brave (2012)
It’s a narrative of a young Scottish princess, Merida, who is determined to write her own destiny in this Pixar animated fable. Revolting against long-held traditions, Merida causes upheaval in her country and her own family by announcing her desire not to be married. This heartfelt tale is filled with sophisticated visual representations of the clans and landscapes of Scotland.
6. Highlander (1986)
.An eternal swordsman known as Highlander, Connor MacLeod, travels through time in this British-American action-fantasy film. He eventually settles down in New York City, where he is confronted with the most crucial battle of his life. Highland culture and history can be better understood by jumping back and forth in time in this film. To get a taste of Scottish history and be immensely entertained while seeing Highlander, which was shot in Scotland and New York City, is the ideal fantasy film.
7. Whisky Galore! (2016)
Gillies MacKinnon’s British adaptation of the 1949 film, based on a true story, premiered at the 2016 Edinburgh Film Festival. Whisky Galore! relates the story of islanders on the Isle of Toddy, Scotland, who attempted to smuggle cases of whisky off a ship that was stranded on the rocks just offshore of their island home. Colorful personalities and vivid humor fill this picture, which gives the audience a rare glimpse into a fascinating snippet of Scottish history.
8. Local Hero (1983)
An American oil company agent is dispatched to Ferness, a small coastal village in Scotland, to buy it and demolish it, and he is greeted by a group of friendly locals who are eager to help him succeed in his mission. With wacky characters and stunning images of the Aberdeenshire coast, Local Hero is a lighthearted comedy that the whole family can enjoy before visiting the coast.
9. Loch Ness (1996)
Trying to find a movie to watch with the whole family before a trip to Scotland? An American zoologist is asked to travel to Scotland to dispel the myth of the Loch Ness monster, which he later goes to great lengths to try and prove its existence. This film, which was shot in Loch Ness, Scotland, as well as Lower Diabaig on the west coast of Highland, is filled with breathtaking scenery and eccentric characters that will inspire every member of the family.
10. Sunshine on Leith (2013)
The film is set in Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, and follows the lives of two young British servicemen who have recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan. Even if you aren’t a fan of musicals, you’ll find this film hard to resist because it includes songs by the Scottish music duo The Proclaimers. Sunshine on Leith depicts Edinburgh and its people in a joyful and sentimental light, making it an ideal film for anyone who has yet to visit the city.