Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Blind Spot Series: Local Hero

Not the most quoted film on my list or the most talked about BUT it is a classic British film that is on the Film 4 list of classics.

American oil company representative 'Mac' MacIntyre (Peter Riegert) is chosen to go to negotiate a deal to buy a small village on the west coast of Scotland and the surrounding areas to make way for a refinery. Upon arrival in Scotland, he teams up with local representative Danny (a very young Peter Capaldi) for the trip. The village is small and the locals seem content with their ways, doubling up on jobs, congregating the same pub every evening. Despite this, they are all keen to sell their properties. While the locals take their time with negotiating, Mac becomes more at peace and happier than he was in Houston. He calls Felix Happer (Burt Lancaster), the owner of the oil company everyday as requested with updates on the sky and stars. Negotiating comes to a halt when Ben Knox, who resides on a the beach, doesn't want to move but as he actually owns the beach, Mac and the locals can't do anything. Happer arrives, wanting to see the village and becomes so enamored with the beautiful location, decides not to have the refinery there but instead make it a research site. Mac is asked to return to Houston to look for another location and reluctantly leaves.

Described as a comedy drama, but more of a quiet culture clash. There are no 'big' scenes or an 'epic' moment. The film takes us on a journey without hardly moving (not counting the flight from Houston to Aberdeen) and lets us as well as Mac indulge in the little pleasures in live, such as looking up and seeing the Northern Lights, collecting shells and making phone calls from an old red phone box.

Bill Forsyth won the BAFTA for Best Direction in 1983 for the film, which beat Tootsie and The King of Comedy. It's rather pleasing to see a British film win the prize. It also seems that those other films were not the same tone.

What could have been a confrontational subject for the film was in fact an entire story about reflection. Happer is obsessed with the stars and encourages Mac, who starts out as a typical sales guy, to look up and observe. He gets excited when he sees the Northern Lights for the first time but the locals, who also seem quite happy where they are, have seen them many times before. As soon as Happer lands on the beach, firstly to talk Ben into agreeing to sell his land, is changed too. The village and location have an usual power, it changes those haven't seen a land like this before. This might not be what Forsyth intended but its what I took away from it.

To see where it all started and for an excellent insight to film, have a look at The Matinee and have a look HERE for more Blind Spot posts from other bloggers. 

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