City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Seeking Inspiration From Edinburgh On Film


By edg - Posted on 30 December 2010

The Illusionist George Street

The end of the year is approaching and the Filmhouse is hosting a season of films featuring Edinburgh as part of the Hogmanay festivities.

From today until the 2nd January “Love Film, Love Edinburgh” will play “homage to the inspirational city behind some of cinema's most loved films.”

Also, with the Edinburgh International Film Festival in a precarious financial state - it is having to dig deep this year and be truly “innovative” - now would be a good time to reflect on what the city does naturally, cinematically well and maybe find some inspiration there.

Next year should be a very interesting one for the EIFF. With the scrapping of the UK Film Council, the film fest has lost £1.9m of funding over the next three years. When the funding award was first announced in 2008, the EIFF's annual budget was £1.9m. So this is a big hit. EIFF 2010 also saw a 10% drop in ticket sales.

Big budgets aren't everything, as we've seen with the recent disappointment of John Landis's comedy Burke and Hare or, going further back, 1996 gothic love story Mary Reilly that, even with John Malkovich as Jekyll/Hyde and Julia Roberts his lover, managed to be a bore.

The Filmhouse selection of Edinburgh films includes the obvious: the recently released feature animation The Illusionist, Trainspotting, and Hallam Foe. These three would all be on my list of top Edinburgh films. Edinburgh-set Shallow Grave, another in the Filmhouse season, would probably be there as well, although it was filmed extensively in Glasgow.

I vaguely remember liking Restless Natives, which is the other fiction film in the Filmhouse line-up, but it was made in 1985. I'm not sure how well the whimsical comedy about a couple of self-styled, Edinburgh highwaymen holds up today.

The programme also includes a screening of four, black-and-white archive documentaries which is likely to appeal to a different audience, those interested in seeing historic Edinburgh: Jean L Gray's Northern Capital (1937, 14 minutes), Waverley Steps (1948, 31 minutes), Rose Street (1956, 15 minutes), and Sean Connery's Edinburgh (1982, 29 minutes).

In an interview with EdinburghGuide.com earlier this year, former EIFF artistic director Hannah McGill said she was surprised that Edinburgh's cinematic qualities haven't been captured more often in film.

She might be right. Or do we need to remind ourselves about them? What would you add to this list? Any suggestions welcomed below.