Thursday, 12 November 2015

Rob Roy.

By all accounts Robert Roy MacGregor was quite a character, born in 1671 and dying in 1734 at the grand old age of 63. During his lifetime he was seen as an outlaw, a folk hero and a Jacobite.  At the age of eighteen Rob Roy joined with his father in support of the Stuart King, James the Second of England and fifth of Scotland. But as history has taught us the Stuart Kings and their supporters were not successful loosing out to the German House of Hanover. This led to Rob Roy’s father serving two years for treason and his mother who was in bad health not surviving to see her husband released. 
Portrait of Rob Roy MacGregor.
Even before his death Rob Roy became a legend in his own lifetime due to the publication in 1723 of a fictionalised account of his life called The Highland Rogue. In 1817 the great Scottish author Sir Walter Scott published his novel Rob Roy, although the ‘outlaw’ was not the main subject of Scoots historical novel the book formed the loose adaptation for the 1995 movie of the same title. The film stars Liam Neeson as Robert Roy MacGregor, Jessica Lange as his wife Mary, Tim Roth as the evil Englishman Archibald Cunningham and John Hurt as Montrose. Helming the movie was the Scottish born director of Scandal (1989), Michael Caton-Jones.

Our story starts in 1713 and we are in the Highlands of Scotland. When we first meet Rob Roy he is a well-known and respected cattleman and works for the Duke of Montrose chasing down rustlers of his lordship cattle.  With ambitions to be an entrepreneur and to this end he arranges a loan of £1000 to buy cattle and hopefully selling them at a good profit in the market at Carlisle. Sending a trusted friend Alan MacDonald (Eric Stoltz) to collect the coinage but unbeknown to both Roy and MacDonald, Montrose’s houseguest Archibald Cunningham and his Lordships Factor Killearn (Brian Cox) have hatched a plot to steel the money on route to Roy and make all and sundry believe that MacDonald has absconded to America with his newfound wealth. As a result of all this and because Rob Roy has no chance in paying back his loan he is branded an outlaw with burnings, violent death and rape the order of the day.   
John Hurt and Tim Roth.

Liam Neeson as the man himself. 

Once you get the lovey dovey nonsense out of the way the movie settles down into a great swashbuckling tale of violence and intrigue, the climactic sword scene is well worth waiting for and certainly stirs the blood.  Tim Roth stands head and shoulders above all the other fine acting won a BAFTA for his role as Archibald Cunningham.  One of the main supporting stars is the Highland landscape that includes Glen Coe, Glen Nevis and the Loch’s Morar and Leven and not forgetting the rain and the midges.  The main music was composed by Carter Burwell best known for his work with the Coen Brothers. We also not only get the hear her singing but we also have the pleasure of seeing Karen Matheson whose group Capercaille I have enjoyed in concert.

They even named a cocktail after him!


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