Top 10 Movies Set in Scotland – Best Scottish Movies Ever Made

When it comes to British movies, usually films made in England – particularly London – get all attention. But believe it or not there’s been a lot of awesome films made and set in Scotland.

Here’s our list of top movies set in Scotland.

Local Hero

This is my favorite Scottish movie. It tells the story of an American who’s sent to a remote Scottish village to get them to agree to sell up so it can be developed for oil exploration. The movie may be a product of it’s time- but the irony of the movie is that the villagers can’t wait to sign on the dotted line despite living in a perceived paradise. There’s a cavalcade of interesting characters and provides an interesting look at life in early 80′s Scotland. Not to mention a great score.

Braveheart

Well, how can I make a list about movies in Scotland and not include Braveheart? The movie may have questionable history behind it and take much creative license but one thing is clear – this movie IS Scotland. From the rainy mountains to the gritty battle scenes, Scotland drips from this movie. Braveheart probably inspired more people to visit Scotland than any other movie.

Highlander

While this movie is not exactly fine cinema – it’s still a fun movie and features many iconic Scottish sights. By far the coolest shots are of Eilean Donan Castle. There can be only one!

Trainspotting

This movie is a gritty and realistic look at drugs in Glasgow. It’s a bit of a downer of a movie – but it’s quite good. If you’re OK being a little disturbed you’ll see Ewan McGregor’s breakout role.

Dog Soldiers

I’m not a big fan of scary movies but this one is fun. A British Squad is sent on a training mission in the Highlands of Scotland against Special Operations squad. Ignoring the childish “campfire” stories heard about the area, they continue with their mission and come across the bloody remains of the Special Ops Squad, and a fierce howling is pitching the night sky… With two mortally wounded men, they make an escape, running into a zoologist by the name of Megan – who knows exactly what hunts them. What began as what they thought was a training mission turns into a battle for their lives against the most unlikely enemies they would have expected – werewolves.

Gregory’s Girl

This is a small but fun story. In his Scottish New Town home, gangling Gregory and his schoolfriends are starting to find out about girls. He fancies Dorothy, not least because she has got into the football team – and is a better player than him. He finally asks her out, but it is obviously the females in control of matters here, and that very much includes Gregory’s younger sister.

The Queen

While the subject of this movie is very British – a large majority of it takes place in Scotland at a fictional version of the Queen’s Balmoral Castle. There’s much lovely shots of the countryside. The wildlife even plays an interesting symbolic role in the film and we get an interesting look at Scottish hunting culture.

Rob Roy

In the highlands of Scotland in the 1700s, Rob Roy tries to lead his small town to a better future, by borrowing money from the local nobility to buy cattle to herd to market. When the money is stolen, Rob is forced into a Robin Hood lifestyle to defend his family and honor. Fine performance by Liam Neeson.

Stone of Destiny

The story of Ian Hamilton, a dedicated nationalist who reignited Scottish national pride in the 1950s with his daring raid on the heart of England to bring the Stone of Scone back to Scotland. This is a fun adventure film!

The Wicker Man (1971)

Not the Nicolas Cage remake! The original is about a police sergeant who is called to an island village in search of a missing girl whom the locals claim never existed. Stranger still, however, are the rituals that take place there. Pretty scary movie even if it’s a little dated.

What’s your favorite movie set in Scotland? Let us know in the comments!


Comments

    • avatarEmily Elizabeth says

      Whatcha talkning bout lassy, Brave hearts the biggest Scotish movie ever
      FREEDOM
      Who are we SCOTSMEN

  1. avatarErin says

    I highly recommend “Dear Frankie” with Emily Mortimer and Gerard Butler. One of my all-time favorites, and filmed in Scotland.

  2. avatarKathleen says

    On A Clear Day–a great film with excellent performances by Peter Millan, Brenda Blethyn, and Sean McGinley. The husband-wife relationship and father-son struggle are a joy to watch unfold…and Glasgow looks great!

    Mrs. Brown–2 words Judi Dench!

    Prime of Miss Jean Brodie–Maggie Smith

    The Winter Guest-Alan Rickmand directs Emma Thompson and Phyllidia Law and a very young Sean Biggerstaff (Oliver Wood from HP)

    The 39 Steps–especially the most recent version with Rupert Penry Jones–the cinematography is breathtaking!

  3. avatarGarry Jantzen says

    How can we forget most of the outdoor scenes in the Harry Potter series – esp. crossing Glenfinnan viaduct on the Hogwarts Express (Ft. William to Mallaig)

  4. avatarGarry Jantzen says

    Chariots of Fire (Ayr), The DaVinci Code (Roslyn Chapel and Roslin Glenn and castle (note: town not spelled the same as the chapel). Monty Python and the Holy Grail (Doune Castle), Casino Royale (Falls of Dochart) – vintage car scene.

  5. avatarGrant says

    The beach scenes from Chariots of Fire were in St Andrews.

    And how about GreyFrairs Bobby? Comfort & Joy?

    Have to agree with Local Hero and Gregory’s Girl, though. Also “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie”.

  6. avatarPaul says

    Restless Natives, (1985) a comedy set in the highlands, with a score by Big Country with wonderful shots of the highlands it is about as Scottish as it is possible to be.

  7. avatarSarah McQuarreie says

    What about all Bill Forsyth’s Scottish films, especially early ones like That Sinking Feeling.

  8. avatarMaureen says

    Braveheart for the scenery & the soundtrack, not the historical accuracy! Local Hero is my favorite, quirky and hilarious, dated perhaps but still wonderfully eccentric.

  9. avatarMarion peacock says

    The classic five star comedy ‘Whisky Galore’ should be number one choice because it didn’t have to rely on blockbuster names to carry the story. This was pure comedy with character actors.

  10. avatarNiamh says

    … Edinburgh is literally full of Americans this time of year, how could you not know it’s where Trainspotting’s set????? – they even beat up that American festival tourist … I mean I could have guessed that a website called “Anglotopia” would know nothing about most of Britain (it’s four countries mate), but SERIOUSLY??… have you even seen any of these films (not the American ones – which is most of them)??? Scottish Cinema is really excellent – don’t defile it with the likes of Braveheart

  11. avatar says

    Wow. not impressed by this list. For a start, how can a film set in a remote location of scotland (local hero) be an insight into life in scotland during the 80s? Scotland was crazy during the 80s, thats like a film set in the desert in texas be an insight into america… secondly Trainspotting is set in Edinburgh, seriously man, everyone knows that. and its not really depressing, its energetic and funny aswell as deep and controversial… also trainspotting is set during the 80s so are you gonna say that local hero and trainspotting show the same sort of people? and thirdly, Britain is England, Scotland and Wales, and the UK is them three countries plus N Ireland. so to say the film is british but set in scotland is like saying the film is scottish but set in scotland. i know alot of americans are bad at geography but come on, i mean we are allies for god sake, not some un heard of place on mars. also you have missed out like a million other films better than this lot. trainspotting is amazing and gregorys girl was at the time though. i think you should update your list if you have any respect for scotland.

  12. avatarPatrick Rice says

    Ty, for the list. And for those of you who are insulting the man why don’t you instead share some of the movies you speak of.

  13. avatarLyndsey says

    Thank you for a fab list of movies – local hero is my all time favourite movie as an adult, with Ring of Bright Water my favourite as a child – memories of sitting in the cinema in Oban watching this film – what fun,

  14. avatarMindy vG says

    Your “About Me” seriously made me laugh out loud -loved it!
    Thanks for having a list in reply to my google search.

  15. avatarFelicity Kelly says

    Would love to know the names of the good Scottish films made by the Scots themselves. Are there any movies done in the Gàidhlig? Would love so much to see those. Thanks.

  16. avatarIan Thomson says

    I was involved in the making of the Bill Forsyth film “Comfort And Joy,” set in Glasgow in the 80′s.
    I advised on the driving parts of the film which involved Bill Paterson driving (although, at the time, he had only a provisional licence !)
    We managed to overcome this mere detali, but won’t reveal just how we did it !!

  17. avatarProfessor Eagle Owl Excelsior Ponsonby Smythe III says

    A few touchy comments made here. Ok, yes, Trainspotting is set in Edinburgh not Glasgow. beautiful reminders that the UK is 4 countries not one etc etc. Are you( those who felt the need to be so abrupt) really that sure of your identity?? Think it over. To Jonathan and Jackie, theres some real cracking Scottish movies out there. Check out “Neds” a Peter Mullen Movie about gang life in Glasgow in the 70′s. “The Acid House” another Irvine Welsh novel adaptation, 3 stories about despair, drug use and living at the shit end of society, very funny, witty, yet rather disturbing at the same time. ” Filth” is another one, the brilliant James McAvoy as a disturbed drug taking Policeman trying to get his life back on track over the festive season. If you haven’t already seen these, they’re well worth it.

  18. avatarMax Ranieri says

    I consider very intriguing the “original” Wicker Man. Ok, Scotland has Glasgow and Edinburgh, but also rural areas (just like Plockton in this movie) not less authentic than urban settings. Sometimes you feel a sense of bewilderment along the mysterious coast of the Wester Ross, even if you’re fully aware that under the water there are atomic submarines and not a kelpie!

  19. avatarMary Fugett Clemente says

    Two outstanding oldies: I Know Where I’m Going with Wendy Hillar (sp?), a delightful romance complete with ancient curses against the Laird and Tunes of Glory with Alec Guiness…complex, dark and filled with the music of the pipers.

  20. avatarMKS Koger says

    “I Know Where I’m Going” is a beautifully shot, slice-of-WWII life that takes place in the Scottish Isles.

  21. avatar says

    Two of my favorite movies are set in Scotland. “Dear Frankie” which has been mentioned by others is one of them. The other one is called “My Life So Far.” It is based on the true story of a boy who lives with his eccentric extended family on their ancestral Scottish estate. The cast includes famous actors like Colin Firth, Malcolm McDowell and Rosemary Harris but the heart and real star of the movie is Robert Norman who plays 10 year old Fraser.

  22. avatarTammy says

    I guess there are two ways of looking at this – films that are set in Scotland, and films that are products of the Scottish film industry. Trainspotting is brilliant, although it can be difficult to watch in parts. Robert Carlyle’s Begbie is one the best characters I’ve ever seen in film.
    I’ve got a soft spot for Rob Roy, and I Know Where I’m Going is an absolutely great film. The Water Horse is another enjoyable film which takes place in Scotland.

  23. avatarJulie Bozarth says

    Dear Frankie is beloved at our house. Miss Potter has some scenes in Scotland. On a Clear Day – wonderful low- key movie. I Know Where I’m Going – wonderful movie. Made of Honor – not the best movie, but love the Scottish location and scenery at the wedding, with Glenfinnan and Eilean Donan. And the end of Skyfall. And The Water Horse, love that one.

  24. avatarMike Dinsmore says

    Thank goodness, several people have mentioned “Dear Frankie,” which is a personal favourite. But “Local Hero” is still at the top of my list. Loved “Restless Natives,” even though the director is American. “Hold Back the Night” has never received the attention it deserves, and “My Name is Joe” is another gritty Peter Mullan film that I love. Edinburgh has never looked better than in “Sunshine on Leith,” which, although recent, should be in everyone’s top ten list of Scottish movies!

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