Unionists never miss a chance to sneer at “Braveheart”, a film which won five Oscars and tells a true story (very heavily embellished by Hollywood) about a people’s fight for self-determination. Only last night, Scotland Tonight retweeted one eager young No voter using it as an explanation for the increase in support for independence among the 18-24 demographic, even though the film came out almost 20 years ago.
This sort of thing, though, is fine:
That’s because nationalism is great, so long as it’s British.
“Skyfall” is out on DVD and Blu-Ray next week. Much like “Braveheart”, it’s a fun, entertaining cinematic action romp with a high bodycount, though this time one without even the tiniest glimmer of basis in reality. It’s also a 143-minute-long party political broadcast for “Britishness”.
The movie makes great play of Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom (it’s full of Union Jacks all the way through, despite a jarring early scene in which James Bond responds to a word-association in a psychological assessment by replying “England” to the word “country” – perhaps he knew something before the rest of us).
The whole of the third act takes place in Glencoe, supposedly the location of Bond’s childhood home before he was orphaned and rescued by the British state.
When 007 and “M” reach the remote, grim ancestral house where he grew up (arriving in his classic Aston Martin with a prominent “GB” sticker on the back), Judi Dench’s character mutters “Christ. No wonder you never came back”, with which Bond later concurs “I always hated this place” just before setting off a huge explosion in an attempt to kill a terrorist baddie in an aircraft.
After a climactic scene pandering indulgently to the Caledonian fondness for seeing ourselves as hard men (“Welcome to Scotland”, quips the estate’s old gamekeeper after blasting a couple of henchmen with a sawn-off shotgun), the message that Scotland is a bleak, primitive place best visited only once every 40 years – and even then only when someone’s trying to kill you – is sufficiently illustrated, and the final minutes see Bond safely back where everything is civilised, right and proper: London.
In London, things are young and modern. Miss Moneypenny is reinvented as a black woman, and the new “M” is even (a bit) disabled – it’s a cosmopolitan world of equal opportunities. Bond is happy once more. Scotland has served its purpose, been shown its place in the hierarchy (the old house is literally reduced to scorched earth in the process of Bond’s ultimately-unsuccessful defence of the old order) and can be forgotten about for another 20 years. Better Together, or else.
“Skyfall” hasn’t been nominated for any Oscars (except for the theme song). It’s still a quality film, though, and we definitely recommend giving it a watch. Because it’s not the embarrassing, parochial kind of cheesy, obvious cinematic narrow nationalism, like “Braveheart”. It’s the nice, acceptable kind. The British kind.