1986 a remarkable film exploded onto the international movie scene that
would set imaginations aflame. It contained the endlessly fascinating
and romantic elements of immortality and the Scottish Highlands, all
wrapped up in a tale of good versus evil. The film also featured one
unforgettable and awesomely wicked bad guy character, and an equally
unforgettable tagline, ‘there can be only one’.
The film in question was Highlander. It is a fantasy action movie directed by Russel Mulcahy and stars Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod – the Highlander of the film’s title, Sean Connery as the dapper Spaniard called Ramirez, Clancy Brown as The Kurgan – the wicked bad guy whom the Highlander must defeat, the beautiful Beatie Edney who plays Heather, the wife of the young Connor MacLeod, and Roxanne Hart who plays Brenda Wyatt, Connors love interest later in the film.
Lambert in the role of Connor MacLeod
initial release Highlander did not do that well at the box office in
America, but did much better in Europe. The film lost some six million
dollars in all after its initial release. On the positive side, it has now attained cult
status and will always enthrall people. Highlander kick
started the career of Christopher Lambert and brought fame to both
Clancy Brown and Beatie Edney. The film is still available on DVD and
continues to sell consistently well. In the end the film has recovered
its costs and in all likelihood, is now well in profit from all the DVD
and general merchandise sales alone.
The filming of Highlander began in April 1985 and came to an end on 30th August that year. The action took place on location in Scotland, England, and New York. The impossibly romantic Eilean Donan Castle in Scotland was used as the location of the Clan MacLeod. It sits on an island between three lochs; Loch Long, Loch Alsh and Loch Duich. It stands on the remains of a Pictish Fort and was once inhabited by the religious hermit, St. Donan, hence the name Eilean Donan (Island of Donan).
Eilean Donan Castle
events of Connor MacLeods early life are actually supposed to take place
‘in the village of Glenfinnan, on the shore of Loch Shiel’ in the
Lochaber area, but Eilean Donan was just so right for the ambiance of
the film. I have been to Eilean Donan Castle myself and it really is one
of the many impressive highlights of a trip to the west coast of
The movie is based around the story of mysterious immortals that must seek out and terminate each other, until there are only two left. They must then face the final showdown by battling each other in order to win ‘the Prize’. This ‘Prize’ is the gift of total knowledge that will enable them to steer the destiny of mankind. Connor Macleod represents the forces of goodness and of light, whilst the Kurgan represents all that is dark and evil. The only way one immortal can kill another is to lop off their head with a sword. By doing so, they ingest the power of the defeated immortal and grow stronger with each kill.
The early opening scenes in Scotland
story of the film is told in flashback, alternating between the
beautiful Highlands of Scotland, where Connor MacLeod is born into the
Clan MacLeod in the year 1518, to the dismal and depressing streets of
New York City at the end of the twentieth century, where the final
battle is played out.
It is not revealed in the film why the immortals exist or from where they came, but there is an opening narration spoken by Sean Connery which reads:-
‘From the Dawn of Time we came, moving silently down through the
centuries, living many secret lives; struggling to reach the Time of the
Gathering, when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has
ever known we were among you...until now’.
The music for the film is provided by the band Queen, which provides a powerful accompaniment to the action taking place on the screen. Queen wrote many of the songs specifically to match the mood of the scenes. While no albums specifically tied to the Highlander movie were ever released, Queen's 1986 album A Kind of Magic features most of the songs from the film, although sometimes in different arrangements. The orchestral score for the film was composed by Michael Kamen.
other star of the film is the distinctive Scottish Claymore sword used
by Connor MacLeod during the Highland scenes. In New York, Connor uses a
Japanese Katana. I own a full size and heavy replica of the MacLeod
sword, which hangs proudly from my hall wall on a well-secured wooden
display plaque. Highlander is perhaps my favourite film of all time and
no matter how many times it is viewed, it never disappoints.
is talk of this film being remade, which is always worrying. On March
2008, Summit Entertainment announced that it had bought the film rights
to the Highlander franchise and is remaking the 1986 original movie. By
2012, release of this proposed film had been pushed back to 2014. As of
the middle of May of 2012, the actor Ryan Reynolds was scheduled to play
the titular character.
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