Today, I’m finally launching a new series that I’ve been procrastinating on for a long time, “Reader Recommendations”.
In the little over a year that I’ve been blogging, I’m constantly coming across movies I haven’t seen. Or movies I saw a long time ago and lost in the memory banks. In my various exchanges with everyone, there are recommendations being made frequently… I should check this out, I should check that out. And oftentimes, LOL, I respond with an “I will, I will”.
Well, one way to move that forward is to actually post about them when I watch. Turn the viewing into some “content”. And this series is designed to do just that. I’ll be asking a couple of questions of whomever recommends the movie, give them a chance to link back to anything they may have written on it, and then I’ll share my thoughts on the movie in a review!
First up is our buddy Le0pard13 of “It Rains… You Get Wet”. Le0p did a great piece on this movie awhile back, a very thorough, insightful analysis. I realized that if the movie could inspire that kind of a post from someone, maybe I shouldnt underestimate it. Perhaps I should circle back and check it out.
Click through to see what we had to say!
My questions in Bold. Le0pard13′s answers below each.
1) Do you remember when you first saw the movie?
Sounds like a perfect excuse to do another TMT ;-). Yes, I do faintly remember going to the movie theater and watching this film on the big screen. I saw this the first weekend of its release in April of 1995. The movie hall probably wasn’t half full, either. Still, I found it a rousing tale. One where I cared for and had a stake with the lead husband (Liam Neeson) and wife (Jessica Lange) couple, and their tribulations. What is it they say (paraphrasing), “A story is more exciting if you think the hero may actually die.” Rob Roy certainly offered that.
2) Why do you think that it’s recommendable? What do you like about it?
As I said to others I’ve recommended the film to, Rob Roy offered a rousing adventure tale set in the highlands of Scotland during the 1700s. Yet, it also struck an emotional chord in me as a viewer with Alan Sharp’s story. Any tale that had elements of love, revenge, and redemption in it was just going to kick in what my wife calls the HBL (hot-blooded latin) reflex in me, and affix moi to the screen. Plus, it had a young and charismatic Liam Neeson in action-mode (as the title character) way before his later middle-age stints in the genre fully bloomed. Lastly, it had one of the all-time cinematic best villains of the last twenty years with Tim Roth as Archibald Cunningham.
3) Is the movie underappreciated, do you think? Or does pop culture have it fairly rated?
I believe it is sorely under appreciated as a film. Look at what it faced that year: Mel Gibson’s Braveheart juggernaut (out just a month later in the prime summer movie month of May). Additionally, it was the other half of the Hollywood movie studio ‘Scottish self-determination’ concept in that year’s competition for moviegoers eyes and box office. Usually, the first film out wins such contests, but not always. Such happened here. Braveheart got the ticket sales and acclaim; Rob Roy didn’t. But, for me, they are on equally footing in their splendid historical narratives featuring Scot heroes. Rob Roy may have less action than its film compatriot, but its character development and dialogue does not take a backseat to anyone.
4) Is there any particular reason you thought I should watch it, or were you just surprised I hadn’t seen it?
After discovering and reading your site for some months now, I knew you as film blogger who had an appreciation for good stories that featured nonpareil and distinctive action. Not to mention, you’re a fan of Mr. Neeson and his badassery of late ;-).
5) Have you written about the movie yourself? ( Insert plug here! LOL )
The first segment examined some of the unique and intriguing undertones I found in Alan Sharp’s screenplay and Michael Caton-Jones’ wonderful direction. Part 2 looked at the other recognizably and stellar aspect of the film, its climatic sword-fight, which was under the expert helm of sword-fight master William Hobbs. It was and remain what author Steven Hart, and I, consider to be the best movie sword fight of all time.
Big thanks to Le0pard13 for recommending this! Now for my review!
“Rob Roy” is a period piece, set in the Scottish Highlands in the 1700s. It’s loosely based on events in the life of Robert Roy MacGregor, a Scottish folk hero whose feuds with regional nobility became legendary.
In the film, Roy is a clansman and leader who can sense the economic landscape changing. He realizes that his people are potentially vulnerable to tragedy, should some unforseen hardship occur. He feels the need to do something to raise their station in life, and create a measure of wealth that they can rely on, so he decides to drive cattle between towns in order to capitalize on the price differential. All he’ll need is a loan from the local aristocrat, the Marquis of Montrose (John Hurt). In exchange, he’ll return a fair rate of interest that he earns from the proceeds.
Unfortunately for Roy, the Duke has a scheming underling (Brian Cox) and has an devilishly evil man in his court, Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth). Together, the two scheme to steal the loan and pin it on Roy’s right hand man (Eric Stoltz), who winds up being a tragic victim of their crime.
When the Marquis refuses to take the word of a highlander over the noblemen of his court following the theft, Rob Roy’s land are deemed forfeit in light of his failure to repay the loan. When Roy refuses to yield, Cunningham is sent to capture him. As evil nobility is wont to do, he burns Roy’s home, slaughters his livestock and… worse.
In order to keep his honor, Roy is driven to vengeance.
“Rob Roy” is a gorgeously shot movie. It was filmed on location in Scotland, and the scenic beauty is undeniable. It also features a fantastic cast. Neeson, at the time, wasn’t as big a star as he is now… He was coming off of “Schindler’s List”, but he wasn’t the draw he is today yet. Seeing him in a role like this was a real treat. A true selling point of the film. For fans of his, this is a must see. Jessica Lange is a two time Academy Award winner, and she shows it, making solid contributions to the drama as well. Tim Roth received an Oscar nom for his role as the skeevy Archibald Cunningham, although there were some times I thought the part was written to be a little too evil.
I can see why this film lost in the “stare down” with “Braveheart”, however. Aside from the respective marketability of the two leads (my, how that’s changed, huh?), “Rob Roy” is a more complex film, and much more thoughtfully paced. It also lacks the large-scale battles and inciting speeches that make “Braveheart” so rousing. Those elements together add up to a movie with narrower appeal for audiences.
Taken on its own merits though, this was a highly enjoyable and easily recommendable film. Neeson is fantastic, and though it’s leisurely paced, there are some truly memorable action moments. Especially the sword fights, which were truly fantastic. It’s a long film, and takes its time to establish the world and its characters, but in the end, it was an excellent watch. It’s a revenge story, a story about honor, and a tale of the common man who challenges the ruling class.