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Film locations used in Harry Potter and James Bond franchises among those visited in new BBC Alba documentary Cinema Gadelica, which explores the Highlands and Islands' roles in past movies

By Philip Murray

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Glen Etive where part of Skyfall was shot. Picture: BBC Alba.
Glen Etive where part of Skyfall was shot. Picture: BBC Alba.

CINEMATIC gems of the Highlands and Islands will be celebrated in a new BBC documentary on Christmas Eve.

BBC Alba has visited the sites of numerous past film locations to celebrate the indelible mark that the Highland landscape has left on global cinema.

Cinema Gadelica will be celebrating locations used in everything from James Bond and Harry Potter to 2001: A Space Odyssey and Ring of Bright Water,

Presenter Patsi Mackenzie, said: “Scotland has some amazing filming locations that have been enjoyed by audiences around the world. It can be portrayed as kitsch, comic, romantic, violent, fantastical, gritty, historic or contemporary and its characters can be ordinary, terrifying or inspiring.

“Scotland can be gloriously Scottish or it can be the coast of Turkey, the wilderness of Nova Scotia or even the surface of Jupiter. With such a reputation, we can be sure that film-makers will continue to come to Scotland to use our spectacular landscape in telling their stories.”

The documentary reveals that the famous chase scene in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia With Love was filmed in Argyll on Craignish Loch to represent the coast of Turkey and takes viewers to James Bond’s birthplace in Glencoe, as revealed in Skyfall.

The programme also reveals that Stanley Kubrick used the barren landscape around Loch na h-Àirigh on the east coast of Harris to represent the surface of Jupiter in his science fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Filmed from an aircraft, Kubrick used coloured lenses and optical distortion to achieve this otherworldly effect, and these are believed to have been the only scenes filmed outside the studio.

The programme also tells how Gene Kelly came to Scotland to find a location for the famous musical film, Brigadoon, but it was too wet so they decided to film on a Hollywood sound stage instead.

Viewers will be transported to Glenfinnan Viaduct in Inversness-shire, made famous worldwide by the Harry Potter films the Viaduct attracts thousands of tourists.

We also learn that an archaeologist discovers a star map beneath the spectacular pinnacle of the Old Man of Storr on the Isle of Skye which starts the mission to discover the origins of humankind in Ridley Scot’s 2012 film Prometheus.

Michell Pfeiffer is filmed at the Quiraing and the Fairy Pools in Skye in Stardust, Mel Gibson’s Braveheart rebellion was filmed in Glen Nevis near Fort William, and scenes in Rob Roy were filmed in Glencoe with the Three Sisters mountains often in the background.

The programme also reveals Eilean Donan Castle was the headquarters of the warlike Clan MacLeod in the cult fantasy Highlander. It also featured in romantic comedy Made of Honour, while the Highland Games in Made of Honour was filmed at Dunvegan Castle on Skye.

The opening battle scene in the film Highlander was filmed at at Buachaille Etive Mòr and Buachaille Etive Beag at the entrance of Glencoe, and the 1953 film The Kidnappers, set in a Scots colony in Cape Breton, was filmed in Glen Affric.

The classic Scottish comedy The Maggie introduced the Crinan Canal and Islay’s Bowmore and Port Askaig to international cinema audiences.

Other film locations that feature include Mull in the 1945 classic novel I Know Where I’m Going and When Eight Bells Toll, and Iona in art house film Iona which gave Sorcha Groundsell her first major acting role.

‘Entrapment’ with Catherine Zeta Jones and Sean Connery was filmed at Duart Castle on Mull, and a scene for the popular family classic Ring of Bright Water was filmed a few miles outside Oban and the house where Bill Travers’ character lived is still nearby.

Cinema Gadelica was produced by Caledonia TV for BBC ALBA and airs on Thursday, December 24 at 9pm. It will also be on the BBC iPlayer for 30 days afterwards

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