This wasn’t the case in the 1990s when a whole plethora of films featuring kilt wearers were released.
Two movies that were issued in 1995 immediately spring to mind. They both portrayed real-life Scottish heroes of old. Liam Neeson starred as Scottish outlaw, Robert MacGregor, in Rob Roy and then there was Mel Gibson’s kilt-wearing portrayal of William Wallace in Braveheart. Whether William Wallace actually wore a kilt going into battle against the detestable English is a moot point, but it certainly made for some unforgettable scenes in the movie.
Billy Connolly stars as another famous real-life kilt wearer, John Brown, in Mrs. Brown (1997). Historians and movie buffs alike will recall that Brown was the Scottish servant with whom Queen Victoria formed a close relationship after her husband’s death.
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) is another movie from the same era that includes a famous kilt-wearing scene. The wedding in Scotland of Andie MacDowell’s character, Carrie, to ghastly politician, Sir Hamish Banks, gives the perfect justification for most of the men to appear in kilts. Sadly this occasion does not end well for Gareth (played by Simon Callow), who drops dead and becomes the unfortunate recipient of the funeral in the film’s title.
So I Married An Axe Murderer (1993) is another movie that features multiple characters wearing kilts at a wedding. Mike Myers plays the dual roles of a San Francisco poet, unlucky in love, and his Scottish father, hence the kilt-wearing connection.
As if that wasn’t enough, the kilt-wearing wedding scene strikes again at the end of A Life Less Ordinary (1997). This black comedy, directed by Danny Boyle, stars Ewan MacGregor, a bona fide Scotsman who has been known to wear a kilt in real life.
Possibly the only redeeming feature of the much panned 1998 movie re-make of 1960s classic TV programme, The Avengers, is Sean Connery’s kilted villain, Sir August de Wynter. Nothing more to say on this movie other than the obvious question – with such a stellar cast how did it turn out so badly?
You would expect a movie called Loch Ness (1996) to feature a kilt wearer and it does not disappoint. The Beautiful Game (aka The Match) from 1999 is also set in Scotland. Set in an idyllic Highlands village, this very British comedy tells the story of a football grudge match between two pubs. Unsurprisingly, given the setting, one of the characters wears a kilt throughout the movie.
All in all, this constitutes quite a list of notable movies from the 1990s. That is before we consider kilt wearing cameos such as the Highland regiment that appears in The Last Of The Mohicans (1992) and the Scottish student at a party in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore (1998).
It has been good to recall the halcyon days of the kilt in the movies during the 1990s. It must surely be time for a movie to be made about the tempestuous life of Bonnie Prince Charlie, or even Robert Burns. Either of these biopics would enable the kilt to make a much overdue comeback on the silver screen.
— Margaret Brecknell