I will start by saying I love film, the movies, the flicks or whatever you want to call it.
There’s a magic there an escape into another world or a shock that will give you a new perspective and an influence that perhaps we don’t even realise be it the thrills and spills of Hitchcock, the crass 1980’s machismo of Arnie, the Parisian cool of Godard or the snappy wise ass dialogue of Tarantino.
But do you know what my favourite movie ever is?
For those who have never seen it Highlander is an action / fantasy film from 1986, the story revolves around a number of immortals who can only be killed if their head is cut from their body. Down the centuries they fight one another for ‘the prize’, Connor MacLeod is one such immortal born in Scotland in the 16th Century now living in modern day New York.
“Now is the time of the gathering when those who remain will fight to the last”
The story is told non-chronologically we see Connor in modern day New York but flash back into his past in the Scottish Highlands where Sean Connery appears as Connor’s mentor. Now here’s where it gets a little ridiculous, Sean Connery in Scotland surely he will be playing a Scot?
No, here he plays an Egyptian by way of Spain who just happens to have a Scottish accent, which probably went un-noticed to French actor Christopher Lambert playing Connor who had only just learnt basic English for the role. Lambert cast off the back of his success in Greystoke Legend of Tarzan a largely non-speaking part had even less grasp of a Scottish accent than Connery provided of an Egyptian one. Hollywood myth and that font of all trivia IMDB.com has it that the producers hired Lambert unaware of his basic English, this seems hard to believe surely someone must have spoken to him before they cast him?
Still this is a film about immortals charging around New York with very big swords trying to cut one another’s heads off how much accent authenticity do we really need?
Lambert’s accent in a way really works in the modern day scenes sounding from nowhere in particular, perhaps like a man who has lived in many places and spoken many languages. But moving on from peculiar accents Highlander has some aces to play, meet the Kurgan played by Clancy Brown…
Brown from interviews is an all round nice guy but here he plays a psychotic sword wielding lunatic who steals every scene in which he appears. As the Kurgan he also nearly decapitated Sean Connery for real when getting a little over enthusiastic in a scene which required him to smash through a table with a sword. Then we have the soundtrack a subtle little number provided by Queen “here we are, we’re the masters of the universe” roars Freddie Mercury one of rocks greatest frontmen over a crunching, shredding Brian May guitar riff.
But best of all former music video director Russell Mulcahy works some magic, there are some very technical shots such as the opening ‘helicopter cam’ shot, not actually a helicopter but a wire cam in NY’s Maddison Square Garden. Then there’s the transitions for example from a modern day New York parking garage the camera rises up through the ceiling into 16th century Scotland, at that moment a young impressionable me realised what a director’s job is, it’s to make things look cool.
Even some enforced changes seem to work in Highlander’s favour, originally the movie was to open to the backdrop of an NHL game, but ice hockey wanting to get away from its violent image declined so instead the posturing and craziness of professional wrestling formed the back drop. What could be more perfect to show the weird craziness of the movie than the Fabulous Freebirds whipping up the Madison Square Garden crowd into a frenzy to a Queen guitar riff?
“There can be only one” was the movies tagline unfortunately the producers didn’t take that advice and inferior sequels followed including the bizarre Highlander the Quickening, which Highlander continuity now wisely ignores.
But regardless no matter how many films I see from the brashest, biggest blockbuster to the most complex and emotional art house flick Highlander will be my one true movie love.