City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

EIF 2015, From Scotland with Love King Creosote, The Hub, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 15 August 2015

Virginia Heath & Kenny Anderson © David Lee.jpg
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The Hub
Running time: 
Virginia Heath(directed), Grant Keir (producer), King Creosote (music)
Kenny Anderson, Andy Robinson, David MaCaulay, Peter Beesly, Derek O'Neill, Kate Miguda, Amy Mac , Pete Harvey, Louis Abbot, Kevin Brolly, Jenny Reeve, Emma Peebles, Asher Zacardelli (musicians and singers)

Virginia Heath has created a wonder in her cinematic homage to Scotland’s 20th century past. Over its (gey near) 90 minutes, using footage from the Scottish Screen Archive, she has given vibrant and affirming life to the private and public lives of working Scots. There’s no voice over to this documentary style film. Instead it is gorgeously accompanied by an original score written and performed by Fife singer songwriter, Kenny Anderson better known as King Creosote. Two live screenings of the film with live accompaniment from King Creosote with eight musicians and three singers are part of this year’s Hub Sessions in the EIF.

The spectrum of Scotland’s manufacturing industries where bunneted men and arm in arm lassies swarmed, is saluted. From the smeltering of steel to the clinking of golden whisky bottles; from silk stockings to sticky sweeties; destructive munitions to homely linoleum and of course shipbuilding and railways they all spool past. There’s leisure time, where beautiful shoes happily dance indoors and out, while screaming, laughing faces thrill to the shows and the circus. Big ribboned wee girls are everywhere, rollerskating, playing at ropes and peever; wee boys playing in puddles and dodging the polis before they grow up to be either glamour girls or quiffed boys.

The universal notion that the Scots are dour is well and truly trounced throughout as folk are shown in smiling comradeship and companionship. And marches, marches, marches both political and military, but mostly political showing Scotland’s ideals in the rallied and at times brutally rounded crowds.

The 11 tracks from King Creosote are synchronised with the film but to see this done live was incredible and brought his songs’ sentiments written in his braw native Scots poignantly to life like the swell of the sea with the sweeping Cargill and the gloriously rollicking Largs to accompany the seaside scenes with an instrumental version to whirl and spin with the dive bombers and waltzers.

Heath’s direction shone light on the normally invisible men knocking away the timbers at a ship launch instead of some dignitary tinkling a symbolic bottle of champagne, something the builders would never have seen. Add to that the sight of a sad wee lass in calipers on the beach followed by the speeded up Charleston dancing weans who seemed perfectly in time with the soundtrack. Then consider the march of the one legged men marching past was followed by a couple skating on a big lake all to themselves and you have some powerful social messages in a matter of minutes.

Trains and cars take us to the Highlands with farming, fisheries and peat digging shown in all its earthy toughness. Folk travelling further in the world had emotional farewells at quaysides caught on camera as hats and hankies were being waved. With pay days, art, science, apprentices, schooldays, cinema, theatre, new housing schemes and of course pubs and fitbaa all human life is here! The final shots of fireworks and King Creosote’s fine rendering of Auld Land Syne could not have been more fitting.

This film is a fabulous meld of life in the last 100 years or so that movingly expresses a sense of lost community when decency and respectability were present even within the poverty of tenement living. You may not be in the film but there is something in every face that tells you you are.

14-15 August 2015, 10.30pm.