December 31, 2007

More Scottish than Scotland

Jings!The three of us went to see The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep the other day. It’s a “family” movie set in Scotland, using state-of-the-art special effects and cute humour to re-tell the Loch Ness Monster tale in a slightly new way.

The confession a few years back that the famous “Surgeon’s Photo” of the monster was in fact a hoax must have really dented tourists’ interest in looking for the monster on trips to Loch Ness, which, as anyone who has been there, is a monster of a lake in itself. The movie will help to prop up the legend. (By the way, we could use a MacCrimmon movie: Patrick Og: The Legend of the Urlar. That’s gold, baby. Gold.)

It’s a good movie. If Scots and Scot-a-philes can see past the stereotypes of whisky-swilling workers and dumbed-down accents they’ll enjoy the film, which paints the English as the enemy, even sneaking in a derogatory “Sassenach” label at one point.

But I have to remark on The Water Horse‘s musical score. Once again an intrinsically Scottish movie features Uillean pipes in its background music. I couldn’t detect any Scottish music at all. Not a trace of Highland, Lowland or small pipe anywhere. Not even a Banchory fiddle. The hoary old Chieftains are trotted out once again to supply the music. It seems that Hollywood thinks the sound of Irish folk music is more Scottish-sounding than the real thing. Sinéad O’Connor even wrote and performed the theme song.

Why is it that the sound of the Highland pipe is out of favour with movie-makers? Can’t Eric Rigler, Iain Whitelaw or Lorne Cousin – pipers these days in Los Angeles – set movie producers straight and convince them that they should get it right?




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