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August 18, 2014 12:39 AM   Subscribe

On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart fought loyalist troops commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands. In 1964, Peter Watkins wrote and produced a docudrama for the BBC, from the perspective of a documentary crew on the ground, depicting the battle and its aftermath: Culloden. [1:12:14]
posted by cthuljew (15 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy shit,,this film is incredible.
posted by quazichimp at 3:26 AM on August 18 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm watching it now, it's totally worth the time. I knew the story from folk music, but I'd never really had a sense of what it meant.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 3:36 AM on August 18


Thanks for posting - I'd never heard of this one. A little more about Peter Watkins. His films also include The War Game (1965) - similar "on the ground" treatment given to a possible nuclear war and its aftermath in the UK.
posted by rongorongo at 3:52 AM on August 18


It really reminds me of ISIS; pointless, hopeless and disgusting.
posted by evil_esto at 4:23 AM on August 18


Culloden drew part of its inspiration from You Are There, a U.S. based radio and TV series recreating historic events as breaking news; among the episodes were the assassination of Julius Caesar (not to mention two episodes focusing on the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and subsequent pursuit of John Wilkes Booth), the Storming of the Bastille, The Salem Witchcraft Trials, the Defeat of the Spanish Armada, the Burr-Hamilton duel, The Death of Socrates, The Defeat of Sitting Bull and the Signing of the Magna Carta.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:56 AM on August 18 [5 favorites]


Culloden Moor is one of the saddest places I've ever been to. The '45 has been romanticized as the attempted return of a rightful king, but in reality was more of a sectarian and cultural war. It killed off any hopes of Scotland's independence for a couple of hundred years.
posted by scruss at 4:58 AM on August 18


My high school history teacher screened this film in class over two consecutive days. I came out shaking. I still think about it sometimes.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 6:01 AM on August 18


An' did legs, an’ arms an’ heads then sned,
Like taps o’ thrissle?
posted by sneebler at 6:44 AM on August 18


Peter Watkins is fascinating - one of those directors worth following down whatever rabbit hole he goes. Here's his take on Culloden from his official site:

This was the 1960s, and the US army was ‘pacifying’ the Vietnam highlands. I wanted to draw a parallel between these events and what had happened in our own UK Highlands two centuries earlier..Secondly, I wanted to break through the conventional use of professional actors in historical melodramas, with the comfortable avoidance of reality that these provide, and to use amateurs - ordinary people - in a reconstruction of their own history. Many of the people portraying the Highland army in our film were direct descendants of those who had been killed on the Culloden Moor.

...we made and edited our film as though it was happening in front of news cameras, and deliberately reminiscent of scenes from Vietnam which were appearing on TV at that time.


Previously:
Director Peter Watkins on the Hollywood Monoform
2007 post on The War Game
Watkins' 60s hippie incarceration "documentary" Punishment Park
posted by mediareport at 7:51 AM on August 18 [2 favorites]


Well this puts Outlander in a whole new light.
posted by Kimberly at 10:03 AM on August 18


Thanks for posting this. I don't think I'd ever quite grasped just how predictable the battle itself was, nor quite how brutal the immediate aftermath.
posted by tyllwin at 11:53 AM on August 18


Thanks for posting this. This is a horrifying, great little film. I had a film teacher in the 1980s that wrote a book on Watkins. He screened 16mm prints of this, Wargames, Edvard Munch, and Punishment Park, which deserves its own post.
posted by marxchivist at 2:55 PM on August 18


Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series is around this time. Does it have any truth or reference? Other than the attempt for Scottish independence, of course.
posted by epettitkruse at 5:23 PM on August 18


Culloden wasn't about Scottish independence. It was about a French backed attempt to put an Italian catholic on the throne of Britain and to oust the reigning German protestant king.

Fucking stupid is what it was.

My wife grew up a 20 minute walk from the battlefield and we walk around it a lot when we visit. We overhear tourists saying how spooky the place is. But it isn't. It's just a bit of heather and muck but you know that lots of folk died badly right there so your head does the rest.

The fancy new visitor's centre sells very nice fudge.
posted by gnuhavenpier at 1:15 AM on August 21 [2 favorites]


I watched this last night (as well The War Game) and I just wanted to thank you for posting it, it was fantastic.

And what a final line! "They have created a desert, and have called it 'peace'."
posted by Ian A.T. at 11:23 PM on August 31


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