Let me start by saying that I’m no historian. I’m just an average guy who thoroughly enjoys movies and has had a lifelong passion for all things Scottish! I’m sure there is someone out there who could do a better job on this topic, but you’re stuck with me so hang on to your knickers!
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Scotland & Hollywood?
The first thing that comes to my mind is the movie “Braveheart” (1995) which is likely the most popular Scottish movie released within the past 30 years. There’s also the Pixar movie “Brave” (2012) which I will talk about near the end of this blog.
Does mainstream Hollywood accurately portray Scottish characters?
I think the answer is… yes – for the most part I believe they do.
Example 1: Sean Connery. He was born in Edinburgh so he would play a Scottish bloke pretty easily, hence the success of his James Bond character. I believe his James Bond character was and is the best Bond.
Example 2: Mike Myers. Though born in Ontario Canada, he plays the best Scottish guy of all time, I mean the best! I seriously doubt anybody would be able to come up with a more epic Scottish impersonation than him.
“So I Married an Axe Murderer” (1993) came out almost 20 years ago. As I play my pipes in public today people still randomly shout “PIPER DOWN!” or “HEED… MOVE… NOW!”. I think this film epitomized an old Scottish man living in San Francisco and they did a really good job at keeping his father authentic. The beer he was drinking in the film was McEwans Ale – so Scottish. Even the scene when he went to the butcher to fetch Haggis was brilliant. The kilt outfits they wore at the wedding were authentic and were accurately in the MacKenzie tartan since their last name was MacKenzie.Six years after he married an axe murderer, Mike Myers came out with his famous character called “Fat B@$!ard” which again he did another amazing job with. Finally in 2001 he came out with his acclaimed Shrek voice that blew us all away. Most people don’t know that the Scottish accent was added after Myers had already recorded some material in his normal voice. He watched a portion of it and didn’t like the ‘accent-less’ Shrek. He decided to add the Scottish flavor and had to start all over from the beginning. Crazy, but it worked so well.
Example 3: James Doohan. Speaking of Canadians who do a stellar Scottish accent, he played “Scotty” in the original Star Trek series and was born in British Columbia. I don’t know that he did anything else with the Scottish accent but he certainly impacted that famous series. Why didn’t Scotty wear a black kilt instead of black tights?
If I were to rate these few examples of Scottish characters in Hollywood on a scale of 1 to 10, I would give them all a 10 because I believe they were ultra entertaining and long lasting. People will remember Scotty, Bond, Shrek, and the dad from “So I Married an Axe Murderer” for decades to come. Legendary.
That portion covers Scottish characters. Let’s now talk about kilts in Hollywood. The number one most common kilt mistake that we see is people wearing a kilt backwards. The pleats of the kilt DO NOT go in the front!!
The question then is this: Do we see mistakes like this in major films?
In Braveheart, I believe they did a lot of research into the Highland gear that they would be wearing and to my knowledge everything was spot on as far as their kilts go. If we go that far back in time their kilts were very basic. Their color choices were usually brown and …. brown with a brown leather belt. The same goes for the film “Rob Roy” (1995) with Liam Neeson. Rob Roy is an epic film that only grossed $31 million compared to Braveheart’s $210 million.
A more modern day example would be the film “Made Of Honor” (2008). I’m not even going to talk about this film because I hated it and thought that they were making fun of Scottish folk and Scottish garb instead of admiring it. “Formula 51” (2001) with Samuel L. Jackson has a lot of Scottish scenes and was a fair film in my opinion. The story line and action sequences were good but not amazing. Jackson looked pretty stellar in a kilt, and most importantly everything was worn correctly.
And now to talk about Pixar’s newest movie Brave:
First let me say that I am a huge fan of all Pixar films so I am a bit biased in my opinion. Overall the movie was great. It was not their best film but it was great. I love that they used mostly Scottish actors for the main characters – this way the actor doesn’t have to fake the accent and it comes off so much more real. An animated film has a lot more freedom when it comes to costume design. That being said, their kilts looked interestingly cool and authentic at the same time. For an animated film it was very accurate: Merida’s horse was a Scottish horse called a Clydesdale, all of the characters had Scottish names, we saw standing stones which are all over in Scotland, and we heard the Scottish Highland Pipes. Watching the film, or should I say hearing the voices of the actors, reminded me tremendously of the Few years I lived in Scotland. Good times!
How does mainstream Hollywood portray Scottish music?
The intro tune & a large majority of the soundtrack for Braveheart was played on the Irish Uilleann pipes, which is classified as Celtic but is not officially Scottish. There is a scene in the film where they show a guy playing the Scottish Highland Pipes but the music being played is from the Irish Uilleann pipes…cheeky.
In the way of songs, one of the most famous scenes from “So I Married an Axe Murderer” is when Charlie’s dad (Myers) sings Rod Stewart’s “Do You Think I’m Sexy?” which I guess becomes a Scottish tune since Rod Stewart is Scottish.
By the way: Anyone deeply rooted in all things Scottish would automatically be classified as an Andy Stewart fan. One of my favorite tunes by Andy Stewart is “Donald Where’s Your Troosers?” (1961). For a really odd interpretation of this famous Scottish folk song, click this link to see how the TV series “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” (2008) used the song.
Until next time -
October 18, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Kilt Rental USA
What are Hunting Tartans and what are Dress Tartans?
Unlike the differing colors of tartans (modern, ancient, weathered), these two terms refer to different tartans all together. Some Hunting tartans will have the same “line pattern” as the corresponding “Clan” tartan with some slight color changes, while other Hunting tartans will look completely different. Some Dress tartans have a slight line of white, while others have a mostly white “base”.
Hunting tartans have been around for quite some time. Contrary to popular belief, they were not literally worn while hunting game. A common misconception is that Hunting tartans were worn by Scotsmen while hunting game & when they returned to their cottage they changed into their “formal” kilt for dinner. The modern day kilt wearer can feel free to wear a Hunting tartan to a formal event.
Hunting tartans almost always contain earth tones. For example, Buchanan Clan tartan has a lot of bright red & yellow but Buchanan Hunting is mainly brown & green. There are some exceptions to this rule – not all Hunting tartans have brown & green. For example: MacPherson Clan tartan is mainly red, but the Hunting tartan is mainly black & grey.
Dress tartans tend to have a lot of white in them. Most Dress tartans appear to have a white “base” or white “backdrop”. For example: MacKenzie Clan tartan is mostly dark green & dark blue with small “hints” of white, but the MacKenzie Dress tartan has quite a large amount of white in it. It’s also worth mentioning that Highland Dancers (both men & women) wear Dress tartans while performing.
Until next time,
Kilt Rental USA & Claymore Imports
February 15, 2012 at 4:15 pm | Kilt Rental USA
The Coyotes Curling Club is pleased to let you know that we will be hosting a Learn To Curl class DECEMBER 9th. The off ice portion of the class will start shortly after check in at 6:30pm. During the off ice portion of the class, we will go over the history of the game, how to play, and what to look for out on the ice. We will then take to the ice at 7:20pm for two hours of on ice curling instruction! The Curling Club has all of the gear you need to curl, just dress warmly, in layers, and bring dry clean running shoes (the flatter the better) to wear out on the ice!
Spaces for the class are limited to 40 so please fill out your registration form quickly and get them back in as the class is filled on a first come, first serve basis. Someone from the Club will contact you to confirm your spot once we have received your form. To get your form, please follow this link to our site: http://www.coyotescurling.com/Learn%20To%20Curl.htm
Coyotes Curling Club on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Coyotes-Curling-Club/161287086731
November 10, 2011 at 11:03 am | Kilt Rental USA
Why are some bagpipes priced at $60 and some are priced at $1,500?
Most people safely (& correctly) assume that we sell & rent kilts at our Scottish store in Scottsdale, Arizona. What a lot of folks may not know is that we ALSO sell bagpipes, reeds, cases and many other items associated with the Scottish Bagpipe.
While I am out playing my bagpipes, I get a lot of questions about my outfit, my instrument, as well as my family heritage. One of the most common questions is “What does a bagpipe cost?”
Just like anything else, there is a cost range for bagpipes – some can go all the way up to $9,000, while others are priced at $60.
So what’s the deal – why are some bagpipes priced so low and others are priced over $1,000?
Let’s look at this a different way: anyone can get a toy harmonica for $2, but if you want to really learn how to play like a professional, you are going to need to be packing a bit more than a toy. You will need a bona fide American made instrument, right?
On occasion we will have a customer walk in to our store holding a set of bagpipes. They would like us to give an evaluation and estimate on the bagpipes they brought in which they bought either online or at a local pawn shop. Over 75% of the time, I have to break the bad news to the customer and tell them that the bagpipes are only worth $20 and they really cannot (and should not) be played.
I can hear you saying to yourself “Hold on…these cheap bagpipes are not toys… they are real instruments…they do actually work, correct?”
Before we go any further, let’s clear something up. The knock-off bagpipes I am referring to are made in the Middle East of very, very (VERY) low quality wood that is ultra rough, lightweight, and sometimes painted or stained to resemble the look of African Blackwood. African Blackwood is what most Scottish bagpipes are made from. The bag on these pipes is not airtight and the reeds that come with the pipes do not work. When I say “do not work” I mean they will never sound decent.
As they come, these bogus bagpipes will not sound decent or work properly unless you do the following:
• Buy a new bag that is made by a reputable company. L&M Highland or Shepherd Bagpipes in Scotland are reputable companies that we frequently recommend. The cost on these bags can run $160 to $300.
• Buy new drone reeds. The cost of a good set of reeds is around $80.
• Replace the pipe chanter (the part that sticks out of the bottom of the bagpipe where your hands go). This replacement will run you about $160.
So far the total cost is $400 (on the low side) and even then the bore (the inside) of these pipes are not made with precision so they will never sound great. In all likelihood you will not be happy with a set like this and will probably end up getting a real set when you decide to stick with the hobby.
Authentic bagpipes are made in the UK, the USA, and Canada. Genuine pipes will always have a name brand like Kintail, David Naill, Dunbar, Peter Henderson, McCallum, Shepherd, and many more. The least expensive authentic wooden set will cost over $1,000 new. You might be able to find a good deal on a used set but make sure it has a name brand and check out the manufacturer’s website to make sure they are makers of legitimate bagpipes.
My final, and some would say most important, bit of advice: don’t buy bagpipes that are made in the Middle East or Asia unless you plan on hanging them on the wall as Man Cave decoration. If that is your plan, take off the plaid bag cover and get a solid bag cover – the plaid bag cover looks hokey.
If you need some advice on buying a used set that is posted online somewhere, call us and ask for Wheaton or Michael. We will be more than happy to check it out for you and ensure that the item you’re looking at buying is kosher.
Until next time,
Kilt Rental USA & Claymore Imports
July 28, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Kilt Rental USA
Understanding the different shades of colors used in authentic tartans (kilts).
The shades of color in a tartan can be altered to produce variations of the same tartan. The resulting variations are termed Modern, Ancient, Weathered, and Muted. These terms refer to color only.
MODERN represents a tartan that is colored using chemical dye, as opposed to natural dye. The reds and yellows will be vibrant, and the greens and blues will be dark.
ANCIENT refers to a lighter shade of tartan. This shade is supposed to represent the colors that would be obtained by using natural dyes. The reds are usually more of an orange, and the blues and greens are usually quite pale.
MUTED or WEATHERED refers to tartan which is a shade between Modern and Ancient. This type of tartan is very modern, dating only from the early 1970s. The reds will appear to have a slight coral tone, the blues usually appear to be a grayish blue, and the greens usually appear to be slightly brown.
July 13, 2011 at 10:02 am | Kilt Rental USA