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Events mark special anniversaries of classic films
DESTINATIONS in Scotland where two classic Scottish movies were filmed could be set to receive a boost in profile, as celebrations take place to mark the films’ anniversaries.
The 1973 Cult horror film The Wicker Man, which was largely filmed in Dumfries & Galloway, celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. And Local Hero, which is famously associated with the Aberdeenshire village of Pennan, marks 40 years since it first hit the big screen.
Events are taking place in both regions to mark the major milestones. Newton Stewart cinema in Dumfries & Galloway will screen the world premiere of the newly restored re-release of The Wicker Man by StudioCanal on April 30th. It comes 50 years after the cinema, which has been in operation since 1932, hosted a one-night-only showing of the as-yet unreleased film to local people as a thank you. This will be followed up by a screening of THE WICKER MAN: FINAL CUT in 4K in London the following day.
The local community of Pennan will also host screenings throughout the summer of the comedy-drama, directed by Bill Forsyth, which was originally released on 29th April 1983. Three screenings will take place at Pennan Village Hall in the summer months, with outdoor screenings by Cinetopia planned for May along the Banffshire coast. It is hoped that the celebrations will spark renewed interest from visitors inspired to travel to the locations after seeing them on screen, leading to a boost to local tourism. VisitScotland Head of Industry Development, Ken Massie, said: “The Wicker Man and Local Hero are hugely important to Scotland’s rich film history and, to this day, still attract visitors to Dumfries & Galloway and Aberdeenshire to explore the film locations. “It is fantastic that celebrations are taking place to mark these special anniversaries and we hope that the films inspire a new generation of fans looking to visit Scotland in the future. “Film and TV tourism helps attract visitors to many regions in Scotland. Our research shows that one in five international visitors have visited a film or TV location whilst on holiday abroad. “For many communities, this has brought opportunities to grow the visitor economy with the additional spend from visitors supporting local shops, services and facilities. Our work in this area includes encouraging visitors to travel responsibly and promoting both regional and seasonal spread.”
Tourism businesses and events continue to feel the positive impact of the films to this day and are looking forward to renewed interest as the anniversaries approach.
The quiet rural locations of Dumfries & Galloway exuded a more menacing quality on-screen in The Wicker Man. The infamous fiery climatic scene that sees the burning of The Wicker Man was shot on the clifftops of Burrowhead, near the Isle of Whithorn. Nearby St Ninian’s Cave also featured in the film, as well as Anwoth, Kirkcudbright, Logan Botanic Garden and the Ellangown Hotel bar in Creetown.
Richard Baines, Curator of Logan Botanic Garden said: Logan enjoys an almost subtropical climate where plants from the Americas, Southern Africa and Australasia all thrive, so it served as the perfect setting for the exotic estate owned by Lord Summerisle – played of course by the incomparable Christopher Lee. As well as starring the Garden, our first Curator, Martin College, played a cameo role and can be spotted strolling along the paths.
“Fifty years on from its first screening, The Wicker Man continues to fascinate viewers and attract fans to the Garden, keen to enjoy the same spectacular scenery as the sinister Lord Summerisle.”
Local Hero was written and directed by Bill Forsyth and stars Burt Lancaster and Peter Capaldi. It was set in Pennan, known as the fictional village of Ferness in the film. The iconic red telephone box in the village continues to be a popular haunt for fans of the film, as well as the Pennan Inn.
Monika Focht, owner of Pennan Inn BnB&Gallery, took over the business three years ago and has introduced winter experiences to coincide with the Northern Lights, which are portrayed in a famous scene in the film. They have also recently partnered with Outlandish Brewery to create a Local Hero beer, and the gallery is dedicated to Pennan and the film.
Monika said: “Our building is right across from the famous phone booth that is featured in the film. We welcome guests from all over the world, many who want to visit having seen the film, but many who want to enjoy the beauty of the landscape and the tranquillity. “For the first time last year, we remained open during the winter months in order to offer Aurora trips. We had a great winter season and will stay open again this year. People from all over the world came to the small village of Pennan to see the Northern Lights, which is an important part of the film. “We want to ensure that the fan community never dies out and hope that even if our guests do not know the film before they arrive, they will leave knowing a lot more about it.”
Amanda Rogers, founder of Cinescapes said: “‘Local Hero’ is a truly special film, which has been a favourite with audiences since it was first released forty years ago.
“Bill Forsyth’s wonderful script, combined with a stellar Scottish and international cast and stunning landscapes make it a truly exceptional piece of work, which is loved around the world.
“Ever since founding Cinescapes, which celebrates films in the landscapes that inspired them, I have dreamed of staging an outdoor showing of Local Hero on the north east coast.
“It is no surprise that film fans are inspired to visit Scotland and in particular Pennan to see for themselves this gorgeous seaside town celebrated in the film, Local Hero. Like Mac the Oil Executive, many will certainly find themselves enchanted by this part of Scotland when they come and visit.”
VisitScotland’s Set in Scotland guide includes The Wicker Man and Local Hero, in addition to more than 150 films which have been shot entirely or partially in Scotland. It is available in VisitScotland iCentres across the country and can be downloaded from vhttps://www.visitscotland.com/ebrochures/en/set-in-scotland.pdf
For more information on the anniversary screening of The Wicker Man, visit:https://newtonstewartcinema.savoysystems.co.uk/NewtonStewartCinema.dll/ For more information on the Local Hero celebrations, visit: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/pennan-local-hero-40-committee-61016505513