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Film Club: Local Hero

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Mark Kermode Mark Kermode | 11:42 UK time, Tuesday, 25 September 2012

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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  • 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

  • Comment number 2.

    Love this film

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • Comment number 6.

    Best film ever about a beach.

    Way better than The Beach

  • 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.

  • Comment number 8.

    reply to #5 Ross

    I agree, Cruising is a brilliant gritty film.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Comment number 12.

    #7 @spaceodds

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

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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!!!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Comment number 21.

    I'm not sure what there is not to understand about Local Hero. It is about understanding what's important in life, reversing 'the cost of everything and the value of nothing' etc. While it may lack the true grit of social realism, it is still an excellent character study and not just in whimsical 'Whiskey Galore' terms. Many great moments - Denis Lawson running between jobs, the idea that an American oil exec is being duped by Fulton Mackay's wiley old beachcomber on counting grains of sand, the Russian fisherman's prodigal return, the red phone box as important a character as any other. Burt Lancaster's agreement to add star quality to this film in what is effectively a cameo was critical in getting the film made, but it really is the sum of its parts - comic, tragic and genuinely moving. You may have a powerful job, money and drive a porche, but what have you really got when you close the door at night? I enjoyed the Dr's interview with Bill at Shetland and the detail on old invoices etc a real insight into someone making films for the love of it.

  • Comment number 22.

    I enjoyed the film very much. I found it charming and funny. I thought the film was telling a modern day fairly tale. There's an villain who works for a corporate. There's a town full of peasants in danger of losing their homes, their rustic land, their simple livelihood to make way for big business. There is even a mermaid. What actually happens is less a fairy tale and more about human nature.

    In the end, nearly everyone is happy with the new arrangement. The townspeople still get to sell their property. Happer gets his bay. Ben keeps his beach. Marina gets her laboratory, and Danny gets Marina.

    However, not everyone wins. What a devastating moment it is for Mac, when Happer tells him to pack up and head back to Houston. It was painfully clear how far Mac has fallen in love with Ferness, and when he steps out onto his balcony and looks out at the bleak neon skyline of Houston, with its traffic and sirens, it become apparent he is longing for the friendly open streets and community of Ferness, which will all be gone because of the new development.

  • Comment number 23.

    Charming,funny and melancholy are amongst many superlatives that describe this wonderful feel good film. British film making at it's best,a film chock full of rich and diverse characters with wonderful performances all round by it's international cast, not least by Burt Lancaster who steals the show in almost every scene he's in. There are so many funny moments, the stuff with the duck, Lancaster's therapy sessions and Mac's first foray into the phone box still make me chuckle. Dennis Lawson has never been better and his burgeoning friendship with Peter Riegarts character i think is delightfully underplayed. If you're depressed or in a bad mood the pure charm and wit of this film will surely shake you out of it.

  • Comment number 24.

    A truly wonderful and beautiful film. As a Scot the portrayal of the village is spot-on; and as a journalist the line "I'm more of a telex man, I could fix this in an afternoon over the phone" has become mantra. The recurring joke about the motorbike gets funnier every time. The score is superb also, and the whole thing has an ease and a simplicity that's never been matched.

    I like to think There Will Be Blood is a prequel, "what's this? Why don't I own this?"

  • Comment number 25.

    I love how quietly human Local Hero is. I don't think a man's relationship to the land around him has ever been better depicted and definitely never more beautifully.

  • Comment number 26.

    I will fight anyone who says that 'Local Hero' is not a masterpiece. Not just the wonderful script, performances and soundtrack but it has a real hart and soul; all the characters are rounded off and completely human. What Mr Forsyth was saying about the love for the film being because ‘it reminds you of happier’ times is right, but that is the genius of the film. It congers up feelings of happier times, so much so that the film almost feels like a memory in of it's self.

  • Comment number 27.

    Local Hero is a truly magical film, beautifully shot with superb performances from the entire cast. The contrasting emotions of the characters at the end of the film are so touching. Everybody gets what they want, except for Mac who didn't know what he was looking for until he found it - and then in an instant his dream is snatched away. The melancholy of those final shots, with the phone ringing in the iconic red telephone box, are almost too much to bear. And while we secretly hope that Mac gives up his corporate lifestyle for the beauty of Ferness, we know that it is already too late. The world has moved on and he is powerless to prevent it. A film for the ages - love it, love it, love it. Like a strong measure of spirits on a cold day, Local Hero will seep into your bones and warm you up from the inside out.

  • Comment number 28.

    Simple story beautifully told.

    What else is there to say?

  • Comment number 29.

    Really enjoyed that, dont know why its taken me so long to watch it. Its my mums favourite film and she also put me onto my own favourite, Billy Liar, which has a similar mix of melancholy and humour. Those films that nail both are rare but the most satisfying of all.

  • Comment number 30.

    Wonderful film, Dr. Kermode. I laughed out loud several times, which I wasn't expecting. The performances were all excellent: the Yank businessman, the quirky townsfolk, the rabbit, the randy as rabbits hoteliers, the Russian, etc. But the one I enjoyed the most was Burt Lancaster as Mr. Happer.

    The character could've easily been written as the typical greedy megalomaniac, but not here. Forsyth knew better. No, instead we get a human being, a lonely soul determined to place his name on a new comet and achieve some measure of immortality and, perhaps, some inner peace.

    Aren't we all seeking those things?

  • Comment number 31.

    The biggest compliment I can pay to Local Hero is that it successfully does what so many other films have tried and failed. It manages to be both heart warming and life affirming without ever once coming across as saccharine

  • Comment number 32.

    My #1 film ever. Have seen it numerous time and there are little things to notice at every viewing. Haven't watched it in a while so can go through this alll over again. The film score is magical and a number of the tracks are on my most played playlist.

  • Comment number 33.

    I do love this film and don't mind it's 'sentimentality', especially the ending. It shows how a place and a people can seep into your blood and under your skin without you realising it. I love the idea that the community are out to get as much as they can, just as much as the oil company. But two strange old men see something different (and deeper) in the end.
    Maybe this should be "book-ended" with "You've Been Trumped"? Giving a contrast of how things could be and how things are in Scotland right now.
    As a postscript, a friend of mine had the theme to "Local Hero" as the music for her coffin to be brought into the funeral service. So I blub every time I hear it.

  • Comment number 34.

    First saw this 20-odd years ago as a snotty, smart-ass teenager who couldn't wait to get out on Belfast and see the world - and really didn't get it at all. Why the fuss? Why the acclaim? It's duuuuulll!
    I watched it again recently as a slightly more careworn 30-something with a family, job, mortgage, roots, thinning hair etc. and saw it with fresh eyes.
    For me in just touches a nerve now about finding your place in the world and being with people who matter to you.

    A controversial view this but I always thought the film works brilliantly as a companion piece to the likes of Wicker Man and Straw Dogs - all feature the same basic premise (outsider/stranger clashing with a bunch of yokels) - and while those other two films do what they do masterfully, for me LH just manages to have that little extra sprinkling of magic dust that lifts it above them.

    I do also agree with your contention that it is not at all sentimental - I always felt there was this very subtle underlying tension in the whole work, with the islanders so obviously desperate to better themselves and make some money. Who knows what people will do when desperate - and who knows what might have happened to Old Ben had Happer's helicopter not shown up at the climactic showdown?

  • Comment number 35.

    Slightly tangential - yes the music makes the atmosphere but Mark Knopfler and Neil Young weren't the first or best examples of a great musician just watching the film and pouring their heart spontaneously onto the soundtrack. I'm thinking of Ry Cooder who, for me at least, made Paris, Texas the film it was and, even more powerfully, Eric Clapton who lifted the original TV version of Edge of Darkness into something outstanding.

    Having said that; I'm no great Knopfler fan but, yes; the soundtrack is sublime.

  • Comment number 36.


    My love for Local Hero knows no bounds, not least because it was shot in my favourite part of the UK - between Arisaig & Mallaig. I still visit the famous
    Camasdarach beach each time I'm up there. (Who stole the church????)

    Though I never got the "Brigadoon vs Apocalypse Now" reference, there's still a definite darkness underlying all the whimsical humour that makes the film truly stand out. Whether it's trying to figure out what the angry female sailor shouts at the communist-cum-capitalist Victor? Or how closely Happer would become involved in the institute? Whether a Maserati would really have been used for
    delivering fish to the market? Who WAS the father of the baby? Could the locals ultimately have been driven to murder? Or whether young Danny could really have grown up to be Malcolm Tucker??

    Maybe the script's one flaw is that it lacks deeper character development. But that's about all it lacks. The film is laugh-out-loud funny, engaging, with
    wonderful scenery, an amazing soundtrack, and an ending that could go either of two ways: Is he returning (where he now belongs)? Or is he inviting a certain someone to the capitalist metropolis (where they now belong)?

    Considering the serious lack of DVD extra material of this fine film (including a woefully uninspiring and unmoderated director's interview on the remastered
    2008 disc), I believe it should now be Dr K's duty to finally persuade Bill Forsyth to record a moderated audio commentary for, what must surely be, the
    inevitable Blu-ray release of Local Hero. Added to which, one of Dr K's own making-of documentaries, akin to the ones he did for The French Connection and The Exorcist. Too much to ask? Are Film4 too cheapskate to put their hands in their pockets for one of the great works of British cinema?

    We'll see...

  • Comment number 37.

    Like a lot of people on this blog, i've seen Local Hero before but unlike them i don't rate it as highly. The first time i saw it, i liked how it subverted my assumptions that this would be a fish-out-of-water comedy with the locals shunning the yanks. After that the film lost some momentum in my view. Revisiting it for film club, i see the cynicism alluded to in the introduction as Mac realises he's the only one who cares about the village and that he's made things worse. For all their sense of community the locals are only to happy to take their millions and see village concreted over. Happer's scenes with his therapist suggest that he's constantly hot for the next new fad and that for all his romanticism he'll quickly lose interest in the idea of a marine institute and revert to his original plan.

  • Comment number 38.

    Love this film, didn't see it till 2010 a month or so before I married my wife. She's Vietnamese and we married in Hanoi but loved the film and the music so much that we effectively walked down the aisle to it (or at least the Vietnamese equivalent of aisle walking). For friends from Newcastle who had made the journey it gave them an extra reason to smile as Local Hero is also the music that our football team run out to. Last year, we took our first holiday in the UK together and made a pilgrimage to Pennan to see where it had been shot.

    The music will forever remind me of my wife making her entrance looking beautiful in her wedding dress - making me understandably misty eyed.

  • Comment number 39.

    I love Local Hero and upon watching it again a few months back, helped me make my mind up to move out of London and back home to the countryside. There's a wonderful mystical stillness to much of what happens on screen, the scene with the helicopter on the beach being a personal highlight that, to me echoes something from close encounters. That punchline last shot conveys more emotion with one insert than most hollywood films can produce in a year.

  • Comment number 40.

    I have to admit to a twinge - and it is only a *twinge* - of disappointment over this choice. Nothing wrong with the film itself, which remains as magnificent and note-perfect as when I first saw it. But that's just it - I've seen it time and time again, many of those times have been when it was on shown on TV at prime time. In our house it is one of the very few to reach the eschelon of "family favourite". I expected the film club to be more about unearthing and rediscovering films that had been perhaps overlooked or misunderstood first time round (and consequently sank with barely a trace into cult status) whereas Local Hero seems - and this is shown by the comments above - to be a cherished national favourite. Not to worry - as well as giving credence to what is a terrific and basically flawless gem, I will use this week to seek out and watch another Forsyth film from his canon I have yet to see (and to my shame there are a few) and will expect the results to be, as ever, magnificent.

  • Comment number 41.

    Saying Local Hero is nothing but a lightweight comedic drama is a bit like saying It's Wonderful Life makes you feel great all the way through. Just as there are moments of extreme darkness and bleakness in Frank Capra's classic, there are intelligent comments about how people can be corrupted and manipulated by capitalism.

    Watching this again – the second time this year – made me realise the person 'won over' the most by the village and the villages isn't Mac, but Oldsen, the Scot who must live in a large city.

    Everything about Local Hero is brilliant, from Forsyth's writing and direction to the acting, cinematography and Mark Knopfler's unforgettable score. I can see why the good doctor loves it and rates it so highly as it is a near flawless film and one of my personal favourites.

  • Comment number 42.

    Also, it dawned on me how similar this is to The Wicker Man as the deceitful villagers could easily be moved from one film to the other without any noticeable changes.

  • Comment number 43.

    One of my absolute favorite films of all time. Funnily enough i first saw it after reading Marks book (Where i similarly decided to see, and fell in love with Blue Velvet). I had loved Gregory's girl, but when Local Hero opens in Houston i expected very little but as the film progresses the dark sadness of the film gripped and i was a wreck by the end. I watch it once every few months and i still lose it at the sight of that Telephone box!

  • Comment number 44.

    Local Hero is a classic British comedy drama that depicts life as we wish it was rather than how it actually is. Determinedly whimsical and with a dash of fantasy here and there (the mermaids tail scene) and with a feel good ending it works to perfection.

    For a bracing dose of reality as to what actually happens when an American tycoon wants to develop part of the Scottish coastline then watch the documentary ‘You've Been Trumped’.

    Myself, I wish real life was like Local Hero depicts; therein lies much of its appeal.

  • Comment number 45.

    You're still looking very chilled out and happy up amongst the Shetlanders Mark!
    Have never seen Local Hero, but love both GG and Sinking Feeling...for some reason clips conjure up horrible memories of that Ted Danson Loch Ness film, sure it's better than that!!

  • Comment number 46.

    I watched Local Hero for the first time earlier this year and since then have watched it another half dozen times. I find it utterly charming and wonderfully funny with a marvelous understated performance from Peter Riegert as MacIntyre. Here is a man comfortable in his surroundings, his beloved Porsche and telex machine suddenly forced into communicating face to face with people for a change. At Knox he seems more comfortable conducting simple conversations with colleagues on the phone, despite them being next door, but in Ferness that security disappears, aside from that iconic red telephone box. By the conclusion, whatever negative feelings you had towards 'Mac' disappear and I share his sadness that he has to return to Houston on Happer's orders.

    The one reservation I do have about the film is the relationship between Happer and Moritz. I've never really thought those scenes added too much to the film. Happer we know, is eccentric, and although there is amusement to be had, I don't feel the relationship is developed enough. I'd be interested to know whether Bill Forsyth had originally written more scenes featuring them. They just seem completely detached to me from the rest of the film. Obviously, Burt Lancaster is magnificent playing the role. Superbly cast.

    I'd like to offer my praise to Peter Capaldi on some wonderful comic running as he shoots off to meet Marina. How nice it is to see him without a volley of verbal abuse from his mouth.

    Obviously, the soundtrack is magnificent, there is now not a day that goes by without me playing 'Going Home'. I have even added it to my jogging playlist.

    Many years ago, as I have family from Aberdeen, I was dragged to Pennan to view the telephone box. This must have been over 20 years ago, so I had absolutely no idea why we were visiting. I feel now that I should make a pilgrimage.

  • Comment number 47.

    I think I watched this probably fifteen years ago and it was during a slightly difficult period but something about it lifted me up. Not that the film is sickly sweet, as it isn't, but something about the combination of characters, music and atmosphere got to me. Still one of my favourite films and a movie I cannot recommend enough...

  • Comment number 48.

    Coincidentally, I saw this movie for the first time last week, largely due to Mark's recent conversations with Forsyth on the radio. I'm 39 and a Dire Straits fan, so it's odd that I hadn't seen it. I loved it. I didn't know anything about it and was initially surprised at the comedic feel of the film. But as the story developed, what appeared at first to be a light tale of redemption began to feel more like a dark tale of missed opportunity, as our "hero" returns to America and appears to lose his chance at the new life he's almost grasped. A truly masterful piece of filmmaking.

  • Comment number 49.

    As a younger member of the Kermode Uncut film club - I probably would not have given this a second glance if I saw it advertised on TV. But on this recommendation, I watched it and was glad I did. To me, the film has aged incredibly well, it feels relevant today and it does contain sentiment, without being sentimental. The film is absolutely about missed opportunity, both for Mac and the villagers; although it seems clear that the villagers will ultimately be more happy with their lot than Mac; who goes back to Texas and looks out at the Houston skyline with a rather resigned look on his face; and his souvenirs laid out on the kitchen counter. For me, Forsyth's laid back style of directing allowed the film to tell the story in its own time, rather than feeling rushed along. Characters developed and were given ample time to interact with each other and form relationships. In the end, although the end is rather fantastical (with Happer getting both his refinery offshore and his observatory onshore without destroying the landscape); the film indeed does make you' for lack of a better phrase, 'feel good'. Feeling good about life and the possibility of everything you wish for working out. The film defies expectations and is much more than the sum of its parts. Oh yes, and the soundtrack is amazing.

  • Comment number 50.

    I thought this was a beautiful film. After an arguably slow start, once Peter Capaldi's character is introduced it becomes incredibly engaging. I loved the dryness of all the quirky characters. I think this is one of those terrific examples of an ensemble village film where you find yourself not wanting to leave by the end.

  • Comment number 51.

    Dire Straits were one of the 1980s musical nadirs, and yet Knopfler's Local Hero track works brilliantly.

  • Comment number 52.

    The film is a love story. a man who lives in a concrete jungle is financially rich but whose life is empty and poverty stricken, goes to a financially poor village which is rich in beauty and community, and falls in love with it.
    The film has a gentle pace that allows you to smell the sea, see the stars, and grow to love the many wonderful characters it wants to share with you. Gently it weaves a strange magic around your heart . This spell is cast by the beauty of the cinematography,the beautiful music, the natural wonderful acting, and the perfect casting.Its has great subtle humour ,half the laughs coming from looks,glances or people just calmly saying no.Its beautifully paced each scene calm , never rushed, but it moves on with a lovely rhythm.
    For a comedy and feel good film, it ends on a terribly sad note, as Mac returns back to his lonely life, a pawn on someone else`s chess board.

  • Comment number 53.

    I forgot to add that Waking Ned is a rather wonderful remake or reinterpretation ( but not as good) and as someone mentioned earlier , many scenes remind me in tone of The Wickerman . Perhaps these films are genre all of their own.

  • Comment number 54.


    That final scene elevates the entire film and is reminiscent of Sydney Lumet's The Verdict (released 2 months earlier in the US) which also ends with a well timed telephone ring but isn't quite as powerful.

    Has the good Doctor ever discussed best film endings? I'd nominate Sunset Boulevard, Planet of the Apes ('68), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Harold and Maude, Carrie ('76), and Back to the Future.

    P.S. There is a moment in the latter part of Doc Hollywood where the city slicker character makes a phone call to the small town for which he has become homesick to hear their recording of the local weather forecast. It always seemed an obvious rip off of, or homage to, Local Hero. In fact, the whole film might be a distant cousin to Local Hero.

  • Comment number 55.

  • Comment number 56.

    Just finished Local Hero and I do not think it is a great film, it is an o film overall. It is pretty meandering and lacks any kind of punch. Tonally the film is all over the place and the stuff with Burt Lancaster and the therapist is just ridiculous. The film has some ok enough wam moments but they are undermined by these tonal shifts. I quite liked the score and the cinematography set by the beach at night but I wont be revisiting this average film.

  • Comment number 57.

    After years of catching pieces of this film on television and hearing my parents laughing merrily I finally sat down and watched it properly.

    Overall I thoroughly enjoyed it. I chuckled at the therapist scenes, smirked at the constant motorcycle gag and even laughed when McIntyre discovers tyhe fate of the rabbit. The locations are astounding and the score (as everyone has already said) was charming. I thought Denis Lawson was great abd it was nice to hear his real voiced as opposed to a dubbed-over American accent *cough* Star Wars *cough*

    It was so nice to see a film with a real heart and a genuinely uplifiting final shot.
    Thanks to the good doctor for sharing.

  • Comment number 58.

    Its hard to be objective about Local Hero, like Mark this is up there as one of my favourite films of all time, In fact it partly inspired a script of mine ;The Fisherman' not so much in the plot but the other worldly feel of the film and the fact its set in a Scottish fishing village. So Ill start with this , it is the the best definition of the term 'A feel good movie'. I know that is a terrible term to inflict on a film like this, because it is constantly misused by so many films which make the claim. In fact films which claim to be a 'feel good movie' I usually leave the cinema feeling violated. The characters in those types of movies are just the sort of people you dont feel good about, they are noble, struggling against the odds and a bit to perfect. The only thing perfect about Local Hero is the setting , the people are flawed a bit greedy, but eccentric and funny and I would love to spend hours in their company. The performances are subtle brilliant and so laid back, from Peter Riegert, Dennis Lawson to Burt Lancaster and Fulton Macay two grand old men perfectly matched, and in love with the same sky. Mention should be mentioned of Peter Capaldi playing a lovelorn flunky, who would think he would one day become the great Malcom Tucker. Not to spoil the film for anybody but to paraphrase the 'Stones' these people didn't get all that they wanted, but they got what they needed,with perhaps the exception of Peter Reigerts character 'Mac', but as that phone rang on and on, perhaps even he did, who knows, not even Bill Forsyth is telling. I feel good every-time I watch this film, and I feel sentimental, but in the good way Mark, its not mawkish. To those who do no see its charms , its beauty and its brilliance, in the best tradition of fair comment I would remind them , 'There are two 'g's in bugger off'.

    Brian Hutton - Luton

  • Comment number 59.

    As Bill Forsyth says - for those that love the film it takes you to where you were at the time. For me, it reminds me of a new girlfriend. Having already just seen the film and loved it, I watched it again, this time with my new love.

    Afterwards, whilst I was heady with the brilliance of the film, she found it ponderous, dull and meaningless.

    We parted very soon after - her choice. I think she must have felt that I shared the film's characteristics as she saw them.

    I moved on, but my appreciation for the film's true qualities - seemingly effortlessly capturing humour and sadness, longing and belonging, how we live life and how we should live life - endures!

    Well done Mark, and thank you thank you thank you, Bill!

  • Comment number 60.

    Please could future subjects for the Film Club be chosen from upcoming (free-to-air) TV listings? There's often good films on Film Four or late at night on BBC1/BBC2/ITV digital channels. In fact I watched Local Hero on Film Four a few months ago. This would just make it easier and free for more people to watch the film at the same time and get involved.

  • Comment number 61.

    I found the script much more subtle than I had noticed before. Apart from the obvious comic elements, I got much more out of it this time around. Great performances all round; Peter Riegert did a good job as MacIntyre, as did Denis Lawson as Gordon Urquhart. I should also mention Burt Lancaster, who did a sterling job as Felix Happer and Fulton Mackay who was really great as Ben. And finally, an early role for a young Peter Capaldi as Danny Oldsen.

    It does look a little dated and it’s very obvious there wasn’t much of a budget to play with after Mr Lancaster had been paid. But even so, it’s still a fine piece of work and one I would be very happy to watch several more times in years to come. There is one thing I wasn’t all that impressed with and that’s the incidental pieces of music that sound like they were played on a Stylophone. Don’t get me wrong, I’m most certainly not talking about Mark Knopfler’s wonderful theme; you’ll know what I mean when you hear it. Other than that I found it absolutely fine! It’s interesting to watch MacIntyre and how his appearance subtly changes throughout the film, I love that way that was done.


    My score: 9.1/10

  • Comment number 62.

    I feel almost ashamed to admit this in such knowledgeable company, but the work of Bill Forsyth had passed me by entirely until his appearance on the 5 Live show a few weeks ago. After watching the film I can now happily call myself a fan. There is something about isolated, rural communities that lends itself to great cinema & the film reminded me strangely of many of the classic old Hammer horrors I loved as a too young child. An earlier poster saw similarities with the Wicker Man & that also really resonated with me. I even felt some characters, Burt Lancaster's Happer for example, would not be out of place in David Lynch's Twin Peaks. The performances were excellent, and as most of the cast are unknown, gave the film a timeless curio quality. The front of the dvd seemed to be marketing it as a feel good comedy, I would not say it was quite that, being a film of much more ambiguity & depth which I'm sure will stand up to repeat viewings. Sadly when the film ended I couldn't help thinking of the documentary "You've Been Trumped". People really do this kind of thing don't they, and they are not as nice about it.

  • Comment number 63.

    I live quite close to where the beach scenes (Morar) and external church scenes (Lochailort) were filmed so I feel "close" to this film. I loved it the first time I saw it and have seen it many times since.
    Burt Lancaster is brilliant as the oil tycoon haunted by his therapist - the scene of the therapist calling him a "Mother Fu..." by means of sticking large sheets of paper on his skyscraper windows is priceless.
    Peter Capaldi is about as far away as his Malcolm Tucker character as it's possible to get. He exudes almost genuine distress at the prospect of eating his "saved" rabbit.
    Denis Lawson is convincing as the affable but actually hard as nails hotel owner who is no slouch when it comes to getting the best for his community.
    And Fulton Mackay gives a superbly underplayed performance in his beach hut. For me his scene with Lancaster where he offers to sell the beach for all the grains of sand in his hand and Lancaster, the business man, assumes he is being taken for a ride then recoils in almost horror that he has let a good deal quite literally slip through hands is for me the best scene in the film (although I still often quote "Aye, as sure as there are two Gs in bugger off!").
    Jenny Seagrove lets things down a bit - her performance is wooden and unconvincing and her accent is crap.
    But I must take up the gauntlet Mark. I love this film but it IS a very sentimental view of the West Highlands of Scotland. We have a real story to tell here and so far no-one has managed to really do it justice. Lars Von T gaves us some glimpses in Breaking The Waves and the little known 1993 Gaelic language film As An Eilean with Ken Hutchison proving he could act came as close as anything. But I am dying for Ken Loach to do it in the way he did if for west central Scotland with Sweet Sixteen. We have a real story to tell which is NOT shortbread, castles, Brave princesses, ceilidhs and kilts and it needs to be told.

  • Comment number 64.

    I watched Local Hero again last night upon Mark's suggestion, having watched it the first time in the 1980s. I do see the similarities with Alexander MacKendrick's "Whiskey Galore," but it seems to have more in common with "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain," wherein a whole town conspires to deceive a visitor.

    The Mac and Happer characters in "Local Hero" ended up being sympathetic characters, won over by the beauty and simplicity of the small town. In reality, I doubt that a buyer for an oil company would blunder in and say "I don't want to be coy -- we want to buy the whole town." He would have used a UK shill to buy up the town piece by piece, cheating the townspeople as much as possible. But perhaps that is what is charming about the film -- that it sees the best in people rather than the worst, rather than the reality.

    Speaking of "Whiskey Galore," has anyone noticed a similarity between that film and "Hallelujah Trail" -- which also starred Lancaster, btw. The city of Denver circa 1800s runs out of whiskey and launches an effort to replenish their supply.

  • Comment number 65.

    I just wanted to add a postscript to my previous posting, to make it clear that I agree with Mark -- that "Local Hero" is a classic, and deserves to be seen and discussed more often.

    One other point that I muddled up -- I'm aware that "The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain" came out a decade after-- so it owes more to "Local Hero" than vice versa.

  • Comment number 66.

    Sorry for going off topic but I couldnt let @ 51 Frank Heavens comment go. The nadir of the 80s was Kajagoogoo or kajacrap as we liked to call them.Dire Straits on the other hand were brilliant. Advantage of being old is you see them before they split up or die. I was at the front at Newcastle City Hall in 89 ,and Mark Knopfler is a fabulous musician. Lyrically and musically Tunnel of Love, Romeo and Juliet, Private Investigations are brilliant. But my favourite song is Brothers in Arms ,a song that always puts a lump in my throat. That song has never been more poignant than now.
    Of cause theres no accounting for taste.The Editors of Q magazine think The Smiths are the best British band since The Beatles. Hilarious as everyone I went to school with thought Morrissey was a £@$$£&

  • Comment number 67.

    The good:
    The cinematography is brilliant & Mark Knopfler's soundtrack, just like is work on 'Wag the Dog' is fantastic. Peter Capaldi's bordering-on-camp performance is brilliant, and the humour in places is completely spot-on (highlights include cooking the rabbit and the entire church scene.

    The bad:
    The pacing in the 2nd half of the film seems off. When Mac said that he was beginning to fall in love with the town, I didn't feel like he had really undergone a change of heart. The romantic sub-plot felt underdeveloped, although once again, it was saved by Capaldi's wonderful performance. The biggest problem however, is Burt Lancaster's character. I feel that the only reason he was cast was to have a big American star so that, as hinted at in your blog, so it could find a distributor in the USA. His appearances are fleeting and at first seem irrelevant to the plot, until the end, when they suddenly make him the 'deus ex machina' in order to give the film the "Hollywood Ending". Having said that, the scenes between him and his therapist are side splitting.

    Despite the criticism, it's still a decent film, and if forced, would probably give it a 7/10.

    On a tangential note, if anyone was ever doing a thesis on acting credits in films, then 'Local Hero' would make a great case study. Despite only having approx. 10 minutes of screen time, most of which irrelevant to the main point, Burt Lancaster gets top billing, above perhaps the main star of the film, Peter Riegert. Even more surprising, the aforementioned Capaldim despite deserving at worst 4th billing (and preferably 2nd billing) for his wonderful performance as Oldsen, he's listed 6th in the credits. Although I imagine if this was getting re-released now, I imagine he'd be front and centre on the DVD case.

  • Comment number 68.

    By far my favourite film so far on The Kermode Uncut Film Club.

    It really is a pretty perfect film.

    The beauty of it for me was the important role that the "bit part" villagers played in giving the film a real sense of rural (in particular west coast) scotland.

    As for sentimentality, i found the film to have plenty of punchy sub-plot. I do however find the accusation of sentimentality to be a confusing one. Is there anything wrong with a film looking, sounding and feeling great for the sake of it? I believe that "over sentimentality" is a comment that is banded about too often in criticism of films of this period.

  • Comment number 69.

    I liked this film but no way near as much as the good doctor. It wasn't funny and the politics seemed to dull out towards the end of the film, leaving a less satisfying ending because of it.

    Having said that, this film exemplified that rare asset of "British charm." The characters were well written and lovable, the film used its locations really well, the soundtrack was great and the performances were excellent. For me, this wasn't as compelling as the true British "classics" but it had most of the elements. With a better script it would be up there, but I certainly enjoyed its company.

  • Comment number 70.

    Unrelated to Local Hero, but related to the Film Club. BBC 4 are producing a Slade Night before Christmas, including a showing of Slade in Flame.

  • Comment number 71.

    My favourite film, made even more magical by the fact that Furness doesnt exist as a place. The magical beach is on one side of Scotland and the Harbour, Village, Bay and Phonebox are on the other side. Add the church which is somewhere else together with the bar that is yet in another place and you have a truly fairytale location put together from real places. I'd recommend anyone to visit the locations, they are almost as good in real life as in the film. There was even a possibility last year of seeing the Aurora Borealis in Scotland last year just like the filem. That would be something!

  • Comment number 72.

    Local Hero is filled to the brim with charm, character and good promise and leaves a warm glow around your heart that you'll never forget. It's a little dated in places but it's the intoxicating mix of the island and the people that make this a classic.

  • Comment number 73.

    I've grown up with this film and love it immensely. Coming from Banff, a couple of towns over from the village location in Pennan, the film has always been a snapshot for my own local upbringing. The interior of the bar was shot in my old local (though the red phonebox that brings tourists to the town is not the real one that stands in Pennan today).
    I love the movie for the dry subversion of the tropes commonly found in this fish-out-of-water genre: the stereotypical canny locals embrace the outsider, eager to sell up rather than cheekily repel him. They live not in a brigadoon like fantasy land, but in a Scotland that truly did and continues to exist - a part of a world of science and industry as well as one of nature and the uncanny. The town is part of modernit, albeit on the fringes of it.
    Special mention must be made of the film's environmental message, which for 1981 seemed lightyears ahead of the curve as far as the media's embrace of these issues was concerned.
    It's not without problems, though. The scenes with Happer and his shrink seem a little forced, surreal and out of step with the rest of the scenes over the pond. Then again this may well have been an intentional commentary on Forsyth's part.
    But for that, Local Hero is still a beautifully nuanced, touching and hilarious take on a place i call home, and it's issues are perhaps even more relevant today given the environmental issues Scotland and other remote areas (from the USA) face. But as an ex-pat in New Zealand, the film is a wonderful piece of nostalgia, both soft and sharp, for a place at once far away and incredibly close.

  • Comment number 74.

    I have mixed feelings about commenting on the film because looking over all your comments, I keep seeing words describing the film: "masterpiece", "classic", "magical", "sentimental", "laugh-out-loud funny", "heartwarming"...and at the risk of sounding like a party spoiler, I got none of these while watching the movie. Maybe because I was born the year the movie was released, but it had no effect on me one way or the other.

    I'm sort of embarrassed and confused because I don't understand or "get" the love this movie has almost unanimously received. As a few others have mentioned, the scenes with Happer and his psychiatrist did not fit into the rest of the movie and didn't make me laugh or chuckle (it was trying too hard to be funny). It does feel that there are chunks of character and sub-plot developments missing from the finished film (Mac and Stella, Oldsen and the punk girl, and what about the paternity of that baby?).

    But I must make clear, I didn't HATE the movie. The acting was adequate and the cinematography was quite good. But I didn't care about any of the characters because I had no reason to care. The people of the town, whom we don't get a chance to get to know individually (with the exception of Urquart), are going to be relocated and seem all too willing to gain financially from this relocation. Why should any of us care? The real star of this movie was clearly The Beach.

    I feel as if I SHOULD have been charmed to my toes by this movie and I really wanted to be, but unfortunately, and perhaps at my own loss, I was not.

  • Comment number 75.

    Loved it! A very simple story, complete with intelligent and subtle humour, interesting and likeable characters, which moves along at good pace considering the length of the film, and that reaches its logical conclusion by the end. The cast does its job perfectly and the surroundings are so well used that they become a character themselves. The writting is superb, giving depth to characteres in a very subtle way by having them have distinct personal characteristics, like the diver girl's feet, or Harper's love for Astronomy, or the apparent emotional emptyness in Mac's life, and even the town/beach area with its fighter plains in the air, it's incredible night skies, the crazy biker and the one phone booth.
    All of this makes the movie not only fun to watch but completely involving... how they were able to make it so involving without 3D is beyond me!!
    My favourite Kermode Film Club movie so far!

  • Comment number 76.

    OK Doc. I've been quite critical of this Film Club in its infancy - too many Doc's favourites which were panned by the critics, a case of trying too hard to be controversial. But, hey, it's your Film Club. If you promise once in a while to give us a film of this quality, I will try to be a bit less grumpy about the usual guff. Local Hero oozes class from very orifice. Please don't ruin everything by offering us Romy and Michele's High School Reunion as your next pick...

  • Comment number 77.

    This is a fantastic piece of cinema. Local Hero surpasses my expectations on nearly level. Perhaps, in my opinion, it does suffer from pacing issues right at the beginning and I was slightly disinterested with the plot. However once the films setting shifted to Scotland this film became a masterpiece. The amazing cinematography of the ere and misty terrain of Scotland instantly draws you in. Every shot seems to have had a great level of care put into it. I'm not only crediting it for its excellent use of camera work though. The drama and characters are interesting and funny. Each of them were unique and had their own character, from main too supporting cast I had a place in my heart for each and every one of them. This film really captures the oddities of day to day life and how each person on this world are different. I also loved how much of the film was left to the viewers interpretation. For example, the man who seemed to torment Harper. I saw him as a schizophrenic depiction of Harpers mind. You can draw parallels between both of these characters. Harpers obsession with astronomy can be compared to the hallucinations obsession with Harper. That is just my interpretation and I would very much like you (Kermode or other readers) to explain to me what you think he was and any other aspects of the film. I just loved this because it added more qualities to the character making me truly feel for the man who is Harper. This is a truly fantastic film and I have not seen one that has been able to capture the way in which life works in such a impressive manner. Thank you for revealing the existence of this film to me, Kermode, and I look forward to the next instalment to film club.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ hoomach

    Not sure if you speak of a hard life in your area, where kids dream of escape, rather than ending up at Fort William Morrisons or the Corpach paper mill, or whether it's about the smuggling stories I've heard. If there is a story to tell, why not tell it yourself? The contrast of a dark tale in an idyllic landscape will surely jump off the page. As a writer myself (and romantic tourist), I love your area too much to want to paint it black. Maybe that's wrong of me, if there is a good story there, but there's nothing stopping someone else having a go - particularly someone there at its heart.

    Just don't expect help and a handshake from the Scottish Tourism Board or Lochaber District Council if you do. ;-)

  • Comment number 79.

    Like Mark, Local Hero is also my favorite film of all time. Although I agree it has that darker edge it only serves to add a wonderful contrast to the subtle human connections being made throughout the story. I feel that this is Bill Forsythe’s ultimate gift, showing us (rather than telling us), that falling in love isn’t always immediate – sometimes it comes upon us unexpectedly – as it does on Mac during his stay at Furness Bay. It’s a simple story told uniquely, in it’s own gradual way and I always love it that the villagers are only too keen to sell up. May that red telephone box ring on for eternity! 10/10

    Steve Box (Writer and Director of ‘Curse of the Were-Rabbit’)

  • Comment number 80.

    I watched Local Hero for the first time last night. Bit nervous because I was aware of its reputation but had only ever seen Gregory's Girl and Comfort And Joy by Bill Forsyth - and I am a HUGE fan of Comfort And Joy. I liked the film - it was full of Forsyth nuances, the little one liners, the charm, and the all round decency that his films seem to manage effortlessly. The star of the show is undoubtedly the Scottish location - it's hard not to get mesmerised by the beauty of the background - and I like coastal films very much - it reminded me of the Comic Strip film The Supergrass which was set in Hope Cove in Devon. As I generally love British films of the 1980s I enjoyed the movie very much, although I must admit I did fidget a bit during some parts. But I strongly suspect when I watch this again it will grab me and grow from there. I thought Mac was an excellent character - a likeable American when in other hands he could have been brash and arrogant - and it was a nice touch of Forsyth to show Mac gradually undergoing a transformation - at the start of his arrival in Scotland he is impeccably businesslike with the expensive shoes and array of suits, but by the end he is paddling in the sea like the rest of the locals and almost resembles an unshaven fisherman - it shows us the village has got to him and captured his heart and soul. I genuinely liked this, but whether is dislodges Comfort And Joy as my favourite Forsyth film is debatable...

  • Comment number 81.

    Local Hero came across to me, definitely as a "feel-good" film where you only really get to see the outsides of the people as people. But more a "feel-good" film, less to indulge you (the viewer), and more because it revolved around reasonable (& likeable) characters discussing events and getting on with living; a bit like the Scots in fact!? To this the jokes were dry but good natured and sensible if dry or softly spoken, it felt to me? The bike, rabbit, "salty vs fresh", preacher's "as much as the next man" etc were all good fun and plenty of these moments during the film. I found the isolation and reliance on an out-of-the-way phone box, an experience I've had but now in the modern telecoms world, definitely that experience of isolation and frustrated dialling of codes while scrambling to feed coins into the wretched machine... was a tinge of nostalgia for those cr ppy times. :)

    The music did not worked for me, it is more city music to my ears so felt out of place among the Scottish vistas; which were a little too sunny and not changeable enough (wind/rain/cloudy granite skies), but in terms of music the Ceilidh in-doors and I think some Gallic rock or folksy music (??) might have worked better? *shrugs* On another note, Burt Lancaster's character and his performance I felt strongly, were a rock in the movie. the shrink stuff I found was genuinely funny for their "reasoned absurdity" (how I read it) but also a vitally important ingredient in where the story was zigzagging a destination towards.

    Also in this movie I never felt there were any "main character", there was a lot of perspectives and stories that I felt equally attached to following; with perhaps the unifying one being "MacIntyre". The moment when Oldsen is mistaken by Lancaster on disembarking from the helicopter really made me laugh out loud.

    Perhaps the secret of the film's appeal is that the interaction and mix of villagers shows a place and people who are actually happy in their small corner of existence, which the film reels off sufficient enough demonstrations of the many beautiful reasons for this to the viewer, yet they (the villagers) reasonably want to hit it rich; except the odd individual or two.

    By the end of the movie, MacIntyre comes back to his own world, changed by the experience and possibly aware, as an outsider, of what the villagers have got but are so quick to sell. That's been his privilege to witness and so instead of making the "career deal" he's taken away those shells and photos which he fondly brings back with him, instead. Maybe as someone already pointed out, the oil deal always happens in reality and Local Hero happens only in films?

  • Comment number 82.

    I have just finished watching Local Hero and I can safely say it is the film I have enjoyed most in the Kermode film club thus far. Reading through the many previous comments before me it seems that the reasons for my enjoyment are echoed by many other people.

    One key aspect of the film which really appealed to me was the fact that the picture steered clear of a clichéd and predictable set up. When I first heard that that the scenario involved an oil company wanting to buy the town, I fully expected a straight forward case of big bad exploitative Americans attempting to force honest, hard working simple Scottish folk unwillingly out of their homes. Thankfully, the tale avoided this by portraying the townsfolk as desperately willing to sell up but withholding this information in a bid to squeeze more money from the Americans.

    For much of the film it is the Scots playing games and manipulating the situation which in my opinion is a distinctive dynamic. However, given the apparent loneliness of the characters with money and the innate contentment of the locals, Forsyth seems to be constantly asking the audience whether they are making the right decision to sell up.

  • Comment number 83.

    It can also be seen that the film endeavours to cover a wide range of themes within and for me a stand out was its apparent commentary on the almost inescapable nature of globalisation.

    The film successfully depicted a remote and isolated community. You get a real sense that the townspeople have been there for generation after generation and overall seem very inward looking. Despite this apathy towards life outside their town, the rest of the world in one way or another seems to find them.

    The most obvious example of globalisation is the overbearing presence of the Americans. Not only do they want to buy out the community and surrounding area they also incessantly fly jet aircraft past and practice bombing runs very near to them. This show of military might acts as a stark reminder of the Cold War world this idyllic town inhabits.

    With the African minister in their church, the Russian sailor who is a close friend to the village as well as the symbolic items washing up on the beach from the north Atlantic drift (such as the oranges originating from South Africa). The film portrays a globalized world that is getting smaller and more interconnected even for the most remote of communities.

  • Comment number 84.

    People may find fault with Local Hero but I could watch it pretty watch it on a continual loop. I'm intrigued by the comments that compare it to The Wicker Man and instantly saw their point. While there have always been comparison's to the earlier Ealing films like Whiskey Galore! – and it certainly belongs to the darker Ealing comedies that Alexander Mackendrick, for one, absolutely revelled in making, where everyone is out to bilk each other – I've always thought it was closer to Alberto Cavalcanti's Went the Day Well? (Although that could say a lot more about me than the film). But really, is it still too late to call the vet?

  • Comment number 85.

    Local Hero was a great choice, as seeing it on a bigger screen for the first time (my humble 77” home cinema); without any interruptions or adverts have to say I really enjoyed watching it. Forsyth does something magical pushing the right buttons to provide a very well balanced and understated feel-good picture with superb scenery and some quirky humor in places (love the scene where the guy’s painting “The Silver Dollar” and his response to “Are you sure there’s two ‘l’s in dollar?”

    I love the subtext of Felix’s fascination with astronomy, he’s not interested in work – he sleeps through meetings and has converted his office into a planetarium. They needed the oil business to get the movie off the ground (very topical of the time), but the real narrative is something much more profound… almost akin to the way Phil Alden Robinson’s masterpiece Field Of Dreams is not about Baseball.

    Funnily enough to pick-up a point in post27 about the contrast of emotions and Mac not realizing his dream until it’s too late… again I refer to a poignant piece in Robinson’s screenplay for Field Of Dreams where Burt Lancaster’s Doc Graham says “it’s like coming this close to your dreams and watching them brush past you like a stranger in the crowd; at the time you don’t recognize the most significant moment of your life when they’re happening” – So profound, and maybe it was Lancaster that triggered me into drawing similarities between those scenes.

    And yes, a fabulous score by Mark Knophler as well. While it’s not a film that’s very high on my ‘all-time favorite movies’ I certainly can appreciate it and really enjoyed seeing it again, properly as I say. A lot to be said for revisiting films on the big screen, and great to see some art-houses doing this more regularly and Local Hero would be a good candidate. Exorcist dir. cut later this month… I’m in.

  • Comment number 86.

    I enjoyed the film. At first it seems like your typical duck out of water Businessman/woman stranger in a small village and the eccentricities of the village folk win over their cold heart. But I agree that there is a deeper charm to the film that goes beyond the superficial in that the main character DOESN'T end up staying at the village, quitting his job or telling his Boss to stick it. Instead he returns home to his ultimate fate with only memories and we are left with an ending that gives me goosebumps because I have found myself in similar situations and the final moments of the film with the soundtrack along with the city's sound effects is a touching moment.

  • Comment number 87.

    Loved it. The ringing telephone at the end reminded me of the unexplained gunshot at the end of The French Connection. It asks a question of which we do not need to know the answer.

  • Comment number 88.

    I've just finnished watching it for the first time and I loved every minute of it, thank you Doctor K. you've introduced me to something truly wonderful.

  • Comment number 89.

    it's a nice film, fine. but i really can't work out why people get so excited about it - unless they wet themselves over seeing a bit of a Scotland or whatever. bored of hearing about this film again and again and again

  • Comment number 90.

    Good afternoon Doctor, I'm taking prescious time out of my day (I'm supposed to be writing two essays) to write an impassioned plea: can you please promote and re-appraise an often derided and forgotten Cronenberg film, M. Butterfly.

    Knowing that you are a massive Cronenberg fan, I'd be most interested to hear your views on one of his least successful movies. I'm sure many others would also. I find the film flawed, but beautiful in many ways. The rapport and relationship between Jeremy Irons and John Lone is mesmerising. Both actors perform so earnestly and honestly, they strip themselves to the core (Lone especially) and one finds themselves utterly drawn in. Yes, I know the factual basis of the film is pretty dubious, but Cronenberg directs their intimate moments and love, with such respect; it's almost painfully private. By juxtaposing the vast expanses of China with these stripped encounters in rooms - culminating with the unforgettable scene in the prison van - the overt political tone of the source text and indeed the context is rendered inconsequential, against the love of these two people. Cronenberg places this relationship at the core of the film and this is why, for me, it stand still to this day and remains an important and deeply moving text. Jeremy Irons is simply stunning and his final monologue is one of the greatest scenes in the last 20 years (alongside 'Shame', when Carey Mulligan and Fassbender 'have it out' on the sofa with cartoons on in the foreground). It would be fantastic to see what you have to say on this matter, even if you put it as briefly as a thumbs up or down at the end of your next video. Though it might be nicer for at least a thirty second quick one.

    Thanks a lot Mark.

  • Comment number 91.

    Watched Local Hero for the first time last week and truly fell in love with it. I'm studying an MA Scriptwriting and desperately trying to hunt down the script, as it is a wonderful example of dead pan British comedic writing at its best.

  • Comment number 92.

    please post a film club response to Local Hero, Dr K.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the film, very quirky characters and strange beginning with the crazy shrink in the US with Heston but when action switched to Scotland I found the film endearing and engaging in equal measure.

    Eagerly waiting to hear your next choice for film club

  • Comment number 93.

    sorry all, I just realised I mixed up Charlton Heston and Burt Lancaster... oops

  • Comment number 94.

    I always remembered Local Hero as being something of a video store standby in the late 80s with Peter Reigert walking in his bare feet in the water next to a phone box. I had, on the little I knew about the film, it down as exactly the kind of sentimental fare you said it was seen as being in your introduction. What a pleasant surprise it turned out to be though. I loved all of the non-conformities of the story and the way that the script avoided making the villagers into walking cliches or the oli-men into avaricious stereotypes. There was a patience and measuredness to the film, that made it so rich and enjoyable to watch, which was remarkable given that very little happens. Indeed, it achieved something extraordinary in that I found myself hoping that the deal would go through given how much the village wanted it. Pro-capitalism in a small town, that's not the way it usually is in films, is it? Ironically, the ending shows just how big companies can benefit communities without just throwing a sackful of cash at them.

  • Comment number 95.

    No one will ever read this, I suppose, as I'm a little late to the party, but I'll nevertheless tell you all how much I love this film. I've seen it any number of times, and on one visit to the UK (I'm Canadian), actually went on a minor pilgrimage to what I believed were the shooting locations. Never made it to Pennan - ended up in Mallaig, which I suppose was the beach location a hundred miles away. Oh well; it was still beautiful and magical, and as I stared out at (I think) Skye, the céilidh music from the soundtrack swelled in my head. Well, it was the 80s and I was seventeen, what do you want?


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