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Movies Set in Scotland

Updated on September 6, 2014
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A Selection of Films Set in Scottish Locations

These films and movies set in Scotland all feature the beauty of this country. From the wild and rugged Highlands to the serene beauty of Loch Ness and the charm of a seaside town, discover aspects of Scotland past and present.

This selection of Scottish movies includes some that may be new to you. Movies such as Rob Roy and Braveheart are well-known and loved for their depiction of troubled times in Scottish history. Tourists can still see these landscapes today. However, as someone who lives in Scotland, I am keen to show you that there is more to Scotland than blue-painted warriors. OK, I do include one kilted Highland warrior here, as I know how popular they are!

So the four very different films featured here show four different sides to the Scotland, two from past eras and two from more modern times. There is an action movie, a period drama about royalty, a quiet emotional drama and a modern romantic tale about ordinary people.

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Balmoral, Royal Deeside, Aberdeenshire: Mrs Brown

Period drama in the later years of Queen Victoria's reign

The Story

Mrs Brown is the story of Queen Victoria's retreat to the royal castle and estate of Balmoral and her regrard for a faithful servant, a Scotsman by the name of John Brown. Her reliance on him as a friend, who was permitted more liberties than many felt appropriate for a man of his status, as much as an attendant led to critics calling the widowed Queen Mrs Brown. Some feared this was indeed literally the case, with whispers of a secret marriage.

It is said that Queen Victoria was truly happy in Scotland, and Brown had been liked and trusted by her late husband Prince Albert. But at a time when social class was everything, the friendship of a Monarch with an ordinary Scotsman who had forgotten his place threatened the established standards. And both political enemies and the media stand to profit from a scandal involving the Queen herself.

Locations in Scotland

The Scottish countryside is at the very heart of this film. It is Brown's own environment, and part of his appeal for Queen Victoria, who clearly felt some kind of respite from the stuffy life of royalty in the hills surrounding Balmoral. Today this most lovely estate is still the jewel in the crown of the British royal family and continues to be a beloved refuge for the current Queen.

Balmoral Castle and Estate is a private residence that is completely closed to the public while the Royal Family is in residence. The gardens are open during the rest of the year and there are guided tours during winter.

The movie itself was filmed on a similar estate, Ardverikie Estate in Inverness-shire. This was also the setting of the TV series Monarch of the Glen.

Discover Mrs Brown on DVD - An Unlikely Friendship between a Queen and her Servant

This film paired English actress Dame Judi Dench as Queen Victoria with Scottish comedian and actor Billy Connolly as John Brown. Scotsman Gerard Butler also stars as Brown's younger brother Archie. Mrs Brown was released in 1997.

Mrs Brown is worth watching both as a fascinating drama and piece of British history, and for the lovely countryside of this part of Scotland. Although set in the late 1800s, this landscape is virtually unchanged today.

Queen Victoria with John Brown
Queen Victoria with John Brown | Source

East Neuk of Fife: The Winter Guest

A Winter's Tale about relationships and change

The Story

Widow Frances is trying to escape the past, but her mother Elspeth turns up and a rocky reconciliation begins in a bitter cold Scottish winter landscape. At the same time, Frances' teenage son is being pursued by the girl next door; two elderly ladies spend their time going to funerals; and a pair of schoolboys play truant. Each pairing represent a different stage of life, and each of these has its transitions, like the winter that seems eternal with its frozen sea, but will inevitably thaw and give way to spring.

Locations in Scotland

The coastal setting plays a central part in this quiet and intense film. The frozen seaside village is Pittenweem on the east coast of Fife, with beach and seashore scenes filmed at nearby Elie. The snow was fake and no the ocean was not really frozen at the time of filming -- I have this information from a resident! It only goes to show what a great job was done of making this 'Winter' so believable.

Pittenweem, Fife, Scotland

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Discover The Winter Guest on DVD - Emotional drama directed by Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman is the director of The Winter Guest which stars mother and daughter actresses Phyllida Law and Dame Emma Thompson as the central characters.

The film was released in the UK in 1998.

This is a movie for those who love intelligent, introspective human dramas. The Scottish setting has been described as 'hauntingly beautiful' and will be enjoyed by those who have had the pleasure of visiting the stretch of coastline to the south of St Andrews.

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Highlands of Scotland: Highlander

An action fantasy set in 1500s Scotland and modern New York

The Story

This is a fantasy action movie involving an Immortal Warrior who must fight to the death with other Immortals until he is the last one standing. This dark and lonely journey through the ages begins when as a young man Connor MacLeod, a Highlander in Scotland of centuries ago, recovers from fatal injuries he received during clan warfare.

At this time of witchcraft (1536) he is feared and brutally driven from his Highland village into exile, where he falls in love with a young woman and has a chance encounter with a mysterious Spanish swordsman who teaches him to master his great power.

However, the enemy is never far behind and though all Connor loves is mortal, that which he must battle against is not. He is pursued through the ages, the final battle taking place in modern day New York.

Locations in Scotland

The wild and windswept beauty of the Scottish scenes was entirely real. The Scotland part of the movie was filmed on location in places famed for their natural beauty, including Glen Coe (first Scotland battle scene; the tower and cottage), Rannoch Moor, Loch Shiel, Loch Kishorn, and Eilean Donan Castle at Kyle of Lochalsh.

Eilean Donan Castle, Highlands of Scotland

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Discover Highlander on DVD - An all-action movie for adults in a stunning Scottish setting

Highlander stars French actor Christopher Lambert (who nonetheless looks every inch a true Highlander) and Scotsman Sean Connery as a Spaniard! Clancy Brown (whose voice may be more famous than his face) is the terrifying opponent.

Highlander was released in 1986 and is a film of its time, with a Queen soundtrack. The Scottish scenes are ageless, however, and capture wonderfully the untamed beauty of this part of Scotland.

Watch Highlander as an 80's classic, for the action, or for the scenery. You will appreciate it most if you enjoy all of these, but avoid if you don't like fantasy violence as this can be quite intense.

Glasgow and Industrial West Coast: Dear Frankie

Heartwarming drama about modern day relationships

The Story

Scottish schoolboy Frankie writes letters to the father he has never met. The trouble is, the letters he gets back, supposedly from his dad away at sea, are written by his well-meaning mum. When the ship finally returns to dock, Frankie's mum Lizzie is obliged to take the deception to a new level to avoid hurting her son.

In hiring a stranger to act as the returning father, Lizzie introduces into their life an unlikely father and husband figure, at the same time keeping the unsuitable biological father of her boy hidden.

Locations in Scotland

Although this is an emotionally moving film, it is not as pristine fairytale, and neither is its Scottish setting. These characters have been knocked about by life and have washed ashore in the working class districts of Glasgow and the nearby industrial coastline of Greenock. If you are looking for modern day urban Scotland, without the drug themes of Trainspotting, this is it.

Glasgow, Scotland

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Discover Dear Frankie on DVD - Love and Family in a Scottish Coastal Town

Dear Frankie was released in 2005. Acclaimed actress Emily Mortimer is the mother battling to keep things together, while Gerard Butler is on his home turf in the role of The Stranger, in which his acting is generally agreed to be magnificent. Jack McElhone also gives a wonderful performance as Frankie.

This is a 'slice of life' that will appeal to those looking for complex human dramas in a realistic setting. Proof, if it were needed, that Scotland is not all stag-hunting and drams of whisky in a castle.

Other Acclaimed Films Set in Scotland - Some Scottish classics

Braveheart

Mel Gibson's classic portrayal of William Wallace in 1995. Filmed partly on location in the Highlands of Scotland including Glen Coe, Glen Nevis, Loch Leven, and Fort William. A number of scenes filmed in Ireland.

Rob Roy

In the other 1995 movie about a Scottish hero, Liam Neeson takes on the role of Rob Roy MacGregor. Filmed entirely on location in the Highlands of Scotland. Locations included Eilean Donan Castle, Drummond Castle, Megginch Castle, Crichton Castle, Rannoch Moor, Glen Coe, Glen Nevis, Glen Tarbert, Loch Leven, Loch Earn, and Loch Morar.

Gregory's Girl

In 1981 a teenage John Gordon Sinclair took on the role of Scottish lad Gregory dealing with adolescent dramas of sport and love. Cast includes Clare Grogan (Red Dwarf). Filmed on location in Cumbernauld (North Lanarkshire) and Glasgow.

Local Hero

Also by Bill Forsyth, the writer-director of Gregory's Girl, the movie Local Hero followed in 1983 starring Burt Lancaster. A drama about a culture clash between American business men and a beachcomber in a small Scottish coastal community. Filmed in locations around the Scottish coast and Highlands including Mallaig, Fort William, Arisaig, Locahber, the Ben Nevis Distillery, and Polnish. The village of Pennan in Aberdeenshire was the fictional village of Ferness.

Trainspotting

Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting (1996) was directed by Danny Boyle and starred a young Ewan McGregor alongside Robert Carlyle. Shows the seedier side of life in Scotland's capital city, Edinburgh. Filiming locations included Princes Street, Calton Road, and Leith. Also includes scenes shot in Glasgow and the Highlands (Corrour Station).


Which of these Movies Set in Scotland do you most want to see? - Any of these Scottish films appeal to you?

Vote for the movie you like best (or the one you would most like to see)

See results

© 2010 Indigo Janson

Have You been to any of these Movie Locations in Scotland? - Would you like to?

Submit a Comment

  • Arachnea profile image

    Tanya Jones 3 years ago from Texas USA

    No, I haven't been to Scotland. Along with visiting Ireland and Wales, someday, I'd like to visit Scotland.

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    othellos 4 years ago

    Nice lens. I saw all the movies you have on your report but I didn't know that a few of them were set on Scotland specifically. You just gave a new touch to my collection...

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    anonymous 4 years ago

    I just saw a wonderful movie filmed in 1945 called "I Know Where I Am Going". A beautiful black and white romance with beautiful scenery.

  • BritFlorida profile image

    Jackie Jackson 4 years ago from Fort Lauderdale

    I haven't been to any but Mrs Brown is an incredible film.

  • Lilie profile image

    Lilie 4 years ago

    I have always wanted to visit Scotland, and this year my wish will come true. Yay! :)

  • hntrssthmpsn profile image

    hntrssthmpsn 4 years ago

    I've never been to Scotland, but it's very high on my list of dream destinations. The Winter Guest is one of my mom's favorite movies, so lovely! And Highlander... can't tell you how many times I watched those movies with my dad, and now my son :)

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    sybil watson 5 years ago

    I would love to go to Scotland and hope to do so soon. The scenes from the Harry Potter movies that were filmed in Scotland are simply breathtaking. Beautiful lens!

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    NYThroughTheLens 5 years ago

    Phenomenal lens! Makes me want to go to Scotland!

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    anonymous 5 years ago

    I was here a couple years ago and its my pleasure to return to congratulate you on your purple star and sprinkle some angel dust to celebrate this beauty!

  • Fcuk Hub profile image

    Fcuk Hub 5 years ago

    Yes to all of them :)

  • bwet profile image

    bwet 5 years ago

    I've been to Glen Coe and Eilean Donan castle. I've made a lens related to one of those castles too!!

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    hemantbit 5 years ago

    @siobhanryan: always wish to be in scotland

  • Stacy Birch profile image

    Stacy Birch 5 years ago

    I love dear frankie.

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    davecurrtis 5 years ago

    I've seen highlander, and the set was so amazing, it's definitely a great place to film movies.

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    grannysage 5 years ago

    Now I have to watch all of the movies, just because of the scenery. Although we would love to, I don't think we will get to Scotland any time soon.

  • ismeedee profile image

    ismeedee 5 years ago

    I have only been to Edinburgh for about a week and absolutely loved it. I would like so much to see more of Scotland, and to visit Edinburgh again. What a fantastic lens! It really works well to include the trailers for the films.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @FlynnTheFineFle: Pittenweem is a lovely little place on a pretty section of the East coast.

  • ggruden2 profile image

    ggruden2 5 years ago

    Nice lense of movies set in scotland! Very informative!

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    FlynnTheFineFle 5 years ago

    I've been to most of those places, at least the ones of which you make particular mention. as a matter of fact, the only place that I haven't been to of those is Pittenweem, from The Winter Guest. All neat, neat places. I love Scotland. Absolutely beautiful there.

  • RichLeighHD profile image

    RichLeighHD 5 years ago

    Interesting lens; will definitely have to try and see a few more of these... I've only seen about half the films you included here!

  • siobhanryan profile image

    siobhanryan 5 years ago

    Never being to Scotland-Blessed

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    cassieann 5 years ago

    I have never been to Scotland but hope to one day. I used to watch the Highlander tv series in the 90's with Adrian Paul as Duncan MacLeod and really enjoyed it. I have also watched the Highlander movie with Christopher Lambert. Very nice lens indeed.

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    JoshK47 5 years ago

    There can be only one! I really need to visit Scotland, and when I do, I will certainly visit as many of these sites as possible! Blessed by a SquidAngel!

  • MrAusAdventure profile image

    Bill 5 years ago from Gold Coast, Australia

    I have been to Edinburgh, Inverness, then across Loch Ness to Glen Coe and then down the west coast through Glasgow. It was an amazing but all too brief trip which I loved. The scenery was spectacular! I love Highlander, but have not seen it for years. Might have to download it!

  • Teapixie LM profile image

    Tea Pixie 5 years ago

    My husband's number one movie of all time is Local Hero. He absolutely loves this movie and has to watch it every single time it is on TV. We have the music and it moves him. He is in love with the story and the landscape and is still wondering who the dad is to that baby? ;)

  • bushaex profile image

    Stephen Bush 5 years ago from Ohio

    I wish I could say that I have been to all of them, but Scotland is still left on my bucket list. SquidAngel Blessings.

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    Ruthi 5 years ago

    Dear Frankie sounds like a movie set in Scotland that I would love to see. The landscape of Scotland is just gorgeous and I can see why its beauty seems perfect for film location.

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    Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I have only visited Edinburgh. We were going to visit but my husband's Mom who came from Scotland had a stroke so Glasgow was missed. Want to watch some of these movies I have not yet seen.

  • Snowsprite profile image

    Fay 5 years ago from Cornwall, UK

    I love Scotland. Beautiful lens.

  • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

    Kathy McGraw 5 years ago from California

    I haven't been to Scotland...but one day I hope to. As for the movie locations in Scotland, many of them are so beautiful.

  • Scarlettohairy profile image

    Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

    No, but I'd love to! I've seen several of these and the scenery is stunning. Great lens!

  • Max Globe profile image

    Max Globe 5 years ago

    No, I even didn't know about their existence :)

  • JohnTannahill profile image

    John Tannahill 5 years ago from Somewhere in England

    Tom Conti and Helen Mirren in Heavenly Pursuits. That Sinking Feeling and Tutti Frutti. It would take all night to include them all I guess. Scotland is perfect for movie making - it's the guaranteed sunshine!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 5 years ago from UK

    @domjohnson lm: Always good to hear about movies filmed in Scotland, good or bad!

  • domjohnson lm profile image

    domjohnson lm 5 years ago

    I didn't notice "postmortem". Charlie Sheen starred in that and it was filmed in Glasgow. It was rubbish, but still filmed in Scotland.

  • oxfordian profile image

    oxfordian 5 years ago

    I love Emma Thompson but I never knew that her mother was an actress too. I really want to see that movie!

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    anonymous 5 years ago

    Highlander was my favorite movie, I should go to Scotland some day..

  • seeker2011 lm profile image

    seeker2011 lm 5 years ago

    I once climbed into Castle Grant many years ago through the kitchen wing. It was when it was between restoration projects and unoccupied, although boarded up. Scotland and England are saturated with castles. So many you pass on the road that need exploring. No doubt all full of hidden stories of long ago suitable for the big screen.

  • TonyPayne profile image

    Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

    I loved Braveheart and Rob Roy of course, Local Hero was excellent too. Does Monty Python And The Holy Grail count as parts were filmed there? I remember seeing Greyfriars Bobby as a wee-un too. Excellent lens, deservedly blessed by an angel.

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    anonymous 6 years ago

    Is "Restless Natives" mentioned? A delightful comedy--circa mid-80s--set in Edinburgh and the Highlands.

  • PaulaMorgan profile image

    Paula Morgan 6 years ago from Sydney Australia

    I would love to visit some of those amazing castles someday. For now I might have to settle for your movie suggestions!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @HomeDecoratingD: Thank you and I hope you do get to visit!

  • HomeDecoratingD profile image

    HomeDecoratingD 6 years ago

    Scotland is a place I would love to see some day! So beautiful! Great lens.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: Thank you for the kind compliment. I bet Braveheart is one of the top favourite Scottish films of all time.. maybe I should do a poll?

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    anonymous 6 years ago

    My grandfather was from Scotland. It is such a beautiful place with great traditions. Beautiful lens. Kudos. My favorite movie set there is Braveheart; I have seen it so many times.

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @Sylvestermouse: Well I heard you enjoyed Scotland so much you were walking on air... isn't that true? ;)

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @anonymous: LOL... it is indeed a beautiful place to visit. I think they should give me a job at the Scotland Tourism Board, don't you agree? :)

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @justholidays: Oh Fife has castles! Castles everywhere here in Scotland. Just hope you don't mind the wind and the damp. :) Of course, some castles are now luxurious hotels so I am sure you would enjoy those ones!

  • justholidays profile image

    justholidays 6 years ago

    I've seen Highlander, of course - but you surely knew that because I love tall Scotsman wearing kilts, eheh. Although I was born to live in a castle (lol), my favourite place would be Fife, it's so cute place to be!

  • indigoj profile image
    Author

    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @Solitudinarian: Ah! Thanks for clearing up the mystery. Now that you've jogged my memory, I've seen part of this one. Not sure why I didn't get to see it all the way through. But definitely a movie set in Scotland so a great one to mention here. I didn't know it was from the same writer/director as 'Gregory's Girl'. Will add them both.

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    anonymous 6 years ago

    No, I haven't been to any of these places, or to Scotland for that matter, but now that I know someone there, I'm coming for a visit, so air out the guestroom LOL (just kidding). It is obviously very beautiful there, thanks for the interesting background information - Kathy

  • Sylvestermouse profile image

    Cynthia Sylvestermouse 6 years ago from United States

    Scotland is beautiful! I can easily see why Scotland would be chosen for a movie location. There should be a lot more movies set in Scotland!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @jptanabe: You'll enjoy them all the more for being familiar with the locations! :)

  • jptanabe profile image

    Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

    Of course I've been to many of these locations - now I have to watch the movies! I've seen Highlander but not the others. So now I've got 3 more to add to my "to watch" list with my daughter!

  • indigoj profile image
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    Indigo Janson 6 years ago from UK

    @Solitudinarian: Ah yes, I'm sure there is a remote Scottish island out there with your name on it.

    I'm curious, not sure what the Burt Lancaster film was as I know 'Gregory's Girl' and he wasn't in that one. I've mentioned 'Whisky Galore' in another lens but don't think I've ever seen it. I should try to. Some of these old films are wonderful.

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    Solitudinarian 6 years ago

    I've been to Glen Coe, and up around Loch Ness and Fort Williams and Ben Nevis (you could only see the bottom six inches, the rest was covered in mist). And what was that movie with Burt Lancaster (did Mark Knopfler do some of the music for the soundtrack - was it Gregory's Girl?) or the one about Whisky - Whisky Galore?

    I could do with my own Scottish island that I could retire to, my own little hermitary.