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Writer Jonathan Melville from Golspie – who has written a book about the film Highlander – will introduce a special screening at Eden Court on Saturday


By Margaret Chrystall

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Jonathan Melville was 10 and living in Golspie when Highlander – the film he has just written a book about – came out.

Writer Jonathan Melville (second left) with Highlander cast members Beatie Edney (left), Christopher Lambert and Roxanne Hart.
Writer Jonathan Melville (second left) with Highlander cast members Beatie Edney (left), Christopher Lambert and Roxanne Hart.

He will introduce a special 35th anniversary screening at Eden Court next Saturday (August 7) and will be signing copies of his book A Kind Of Magic: Making The Original Highlander after the screening.

Jonathan himself didn’t get to see the film until 1994.

He said: “I was too young to see it when it came out and the nearest cinema was in Inverness.

Clancy Brown as The Kurgan during filming. Picture: Richard Easson
Clancy Brown as The Kurgan during filming. Picture: Richard Easson

“I first watched it as a student at the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh.

“I remember loving the music video look of the film, the amazing transitions between scenes – particularly the one that moves from a fish tank to a Scottish loch, all the Scottish sequences – and, of course, Sean Connery.”

It made such an impression that Jonathan, who is a freelance arts journalist, wanted to write his book.

“I was intrigued by many aspects of the film.

“There’s the fact Russell Mulcahy, the director of the first music video shown on MTV, brought his skills to Highlander.

“There’s the decision to ask one of the world’s biggest rock groups, Queen, to create the film’s soundtrack. And there’s the fact that Scotland is one of the stars of the film.

“As nobody else had written a book about it, it seemed like I should give it a go!”

But how easy was it to track down all those who played their part in the story of immortal Scottish warrior Connor MacLeod who battles evil – and the Kurgan – through the centuries?

“The first person I spoke to was the Kurgan himself, Clancy Brown, who came to Edinburgh to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary in 2016.

Jonathan Melville's book on the film Highlander.
Jonathan Melville's book on the film Highlander.

“After that, it became easier to talk to others, though Christopher Lambert and members of Queen took a few years to pin down.

“But generally people were happy to talk about a project that is loved around the world.”

While doing his research and interviews, Jonathan came across lots of stories about Sean Connery, who plays Spanish swordsman Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez in the movie.

“Everyone I spoke to was in awe of Sean during production, though he was only on set for a couple of weeks due to his fee being so large.”

But the heroic qualities of the James Bond actor emerged on set.

Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod in Highlander.
Christopher Lambert as Connor MacLeod in Highlander.

“One of the make-up ladies recalls Sean carrying her to dry land on his back from a small rowing boat – and ruining his costume in the process.

“At one point the producers refused to feed breakfast to the hundreds of extras in Glencoe and an assistant director threatened to tell Sean – the decision to feed everyone was soon reversed!”

Highlander is at Eden Court Cinema on Saturday, August 7 at 2pm and 7pm. Details: https://eden-court.co.uk/event/highlander

Jonathan’s book, published by Birlinn, is in hardback and on ebook.

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