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Film Club: Local Hero

Tuesday 25 September 2012, 12:42

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

The latest Kermode Uncut Film Club choice is Bill Forsyth's timeless masterpiece Local Hero. Here I explain why I love this film so much, along with anecdotes and recollections from the director himself. Watch the introduction and the movie and let me know what you think.

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Comments

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    Comment number 1.

    I liked it but I didn't understand what happened at the end. I think if that was clearer it would be higher on my favourites list. The beginning and the middle are great though. It was just how you'd expect it to be, a nice film with a political undercurrent. 7/10

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    Comment number 2.

    Love this film

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    Comment number 3.

    Best film club selection so far. Hadn't seen it since the 80s, though I had fond memories of it. Watched it yesterday and yeah, it's still a gem. I wonder if the cut scenes Forsyth referred to have to do with Mac's relationship with Stella, or perhaps the recipe for Casserole de Lapin.

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    Comment number 4.

    Will watch the film, as i loved gregory's girl. I think a good film for film club though would be Pink Floyd's The Wall, a very unique film.

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    Comment number 5.

    I'll be getting around to watching Local Hero, this film club's coming up with marvellous choices, but I must say before that I recently watched Friedkin's Cruising on the basis of Dr. Kermode's thumbs up, and it's an unexpectedly gritty and open ended work. Really liked it, let's hope Local Hero is just as distinctive!

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    Comment number 6.

    Best film ever about a beach.

    Way better than The Beach

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    Comment number 7.

    Local Hero may have a brilliant political undercurrent, and it may have been the film that introduced Peter Capaldi, who has become the great British institution that is Malcolm Tucker, but quite frankly Local Hero is one of the most overrated films in British cinematic history. Its slow pacing and dull backdrop create a sense of boredom and the eccentric characters outstay their welcome.

    For those who wish to see a film with eccentric characters and a supposedly dull backdrop, go and watch Withnail & I, which is anything but boring and has been rightfully hailed as one of the best British films of all time.

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    Comment number 8.

    reply to #5 Ross

    I agree, Cruising is a brilliant gritty film.

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    Comment number 9.

    Local Hero is my favourite film of all time. It's truly timeless. Life's always at its best when we human beings keep things simple. Enjoy.

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    Comment number 10.

    Much as I like Local Hero, Gregory's Girl is my favourite Forsyth film. It was the real template for the later US High School comedies. John Hughes owed a great deal of his success to it. I loved the way that Forsyth added quirky visual non-sequiturs such as Jenny Seagrove's mermaid and the boy in the penguin suit.

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    Comment number 11.

    I did enjoy the film, and it's definitely feel good, but I found the opening section quite slow, and sometimes it was too quirky for its own good. All in all, a nice film, but one I didn't quite like as much as most seem to.

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    Comment number 12.

    #7 @spaceodds

    If any film was overrated, it's Withnail & I.

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    Comment number 13.

    I love this film! At first i didn't think I'd take to it, but because I'm a massive Burt Lancaster fan (surely one of the most underrated of all classic Hollywood leading men) I plunged right in. I loved every minute of it, from its quirky humour (the rabbit sequence springs to mind) to its gentle, easy-going tempo in which we are privy to a world we know so well, but is rendered slightly off the wall (the speeding car that always seems to appear). There isn't a moment of terror or drama in the whole film; just this calmness that subverts the majority of films made during the 1980's. As it ended, and Lancaster flies off into the sunset, I had a grin glued to my face, and it resurfaces every time I venture into Bill Forsyth's unique, skewered interpretation of Life As We Know It. And Lancaster, although his scenes are brief, is as wonderful as ever; a late flourishing of his screen presence that warms my heart. It is among the few great films of a very ordinary decade!

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    Comment number 14.

    This is a very special film, very evocative of the atmosphere of both the Moray coast where the village is situated but particularly the West coast where the beach scenes were shot. Stunning scenery, but ye canna eat it.

    It is a tale of innocence, goodwill and community spirit, unrequited love, fulfilled love, friendships, a moment of epiphany, a clash of cultures and a triumph for the environment over money. It has the lot.

    I love the haunting music at the end heard when Mac takes the shells from his pocket and hears the sirens wailing in downtown Houston. You just know that his life has changed and a part of him will always be in that far away village that he initially thought so little about.

    Pure dead brilliant.

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    Comment number 15.

    Don't get the adoration for this or 'Withnail and I' for that matter. Seen both films more than once and whilst I think they're watchable and occasionally quite funny, I certainly don't love 'em.
    I think Bill Forsyth's follow-up to LH - 'Comfort & Joy' - was a much better film all round. Still sadly overlooked though. Shame.

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    Comment number 16.

    I would add that in addition to Whisky Galore, it shares as much of a kinship with I Know Where I'm Going right down to the outsider charmed by people and place and the two best ceilidh's in film history.

    I last saw LH seven years ago. My wife and I had travelled our springer spaniel nearly the length of the UK to be mated north of Aberdeen. We had several days whilst waiting for nature to take its course, and among other glorious local sights, I insisted that we visit Pennan, my wife mystified as to why I wanted to see this blip of a village which clings onto the edge of the coast at the bottom of a narrow and quite steep road. As a sop for the time I give to look after a litter, I get to suggest KC registered names for the puppies, and I was hoping to do a Scottish film theme, Local Hero, Tunes of Glory etc. Before whelping we did get to watch Local Hero, and my wife retroactively understood why I was so keen on visiting that particular Red Phone Box. We did however disagree as, if we had kept one from that litter, I wanted it to have Local Hero, but she felt that 1) was gender specific to a dog, we only keep bitches, 2) it would be too much like bragging in advance in the show ring.

    While you couldn't deny that there are sentimental elements in the film, they are offset by the bittersweet. There's no need to get sniffy about the sentimentality, what there is of it. For every moment of upbeat Hollywood Ending (deus ex Burt), there's a gentle rug pulled out with the echo of a long distance call ringing in the night.

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    Comment number 17.

    Local Hero (and Comfort and Joy) are pure cinematic heaven. Film historians in 50 years time will wonder why Forsyth only made a few films. Having said that, Local hero, Comfort and Joy, Housekeeping, Gregory's Girl is quite a fine work body of work.

    So, let's think about Local Hero and his other work as a kind of fine but rare malt whisky as opposed to the cheap blended rubbish that characterises the output of many directors!

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    Comment number 18.

    I love the soundtrack.

    That said...

    Whenever I watch Local Hero, I think of Life on Mars by Bowie.

    This God awful small affair, with friends nowhere to be seen, sailors fighting in the dance hall, see the mice in their million hordes, Rule Britannia is out of Bounds, its on America's tortured brow, etc. (Shoot me if my half remembered lyrics are wrong, that's how I remember them, gotta problem with them, read the first few pages of 'It's only a Movie').

    The movie even ends in exactly the same way as Bowie's Life on Mars!!!

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    Comment number 19.

    I never really was an advocate of "Local Hero", but being an admirer of "Being Human" makes the said film seem the antithesis of pure audulation. Though your recent blog on Bill Forsyth was sublime, Mr. Kermode. Well done.

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    Comment number 20.

    Thank you for sending Film Club to Ferness Mark. Having spent most of my life living in Tasmania and six months living in Shetland, I feel qualified to suggest that isolation is not as romantic as that gloriously evocative theme music suggests, and that there are dark sides living in picturesque places, as Forsyth suggests. In fact, Mac may have not been as intoxicated by the village as he seems, but actually just drunk. Seriously, matching Local Hero drink for drink could wipe out the most dedicated of tipplers.

 

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