- Local Hero
name = Local Hero
caption = Theatrical poster
writer = Bill Forsyth
Peter Riegert Denis Lawson Burt Lancaster
editing = Michael Bradsell
Warner Bros.(U.S.A.) 20th Century Fox(U.K.)
released = 17 February 1983 (U.S.A.)
runtime = 111 minutes
language = English
amg_id = 1:29815
imdb_id = 0085859|
"Local Hero" is a fy|1983 Scottish
filmstarring Peter Riegert, Denis Lawson, Peter Capaldiand Burt Lancaster. It was directed by Bill Forsythand produced by David Puttnam. [imdb title|id=0085859|title=Local Hero.]
The film is set in the fictional fishing village of Ferness on the west coast of Scotland. A young representative of an American oil company is sent to the village on a mission. The film features a notable ensemble of character parts.
"Mac" MacIntyre (
Peter Riegert) is a typical 1980s hot-shot executive working for Knox Oil and Gas in Houston, Texas. His lavish apartment is furnished with all the latest modern gadgets.
The eccentric chief of the company, Felix Happer (
Burt Lancaster), sends MacIntyre to Scotland to acquire the village of Ferness to make way for a refinery, largely because his surname sounds Scottish. Mac (who is actually of Hungarian extraction) is a little apprehensive about his assignment, complaining to co-workers that he would much rather take care of business over the phone and via telex machines.
Happer, an avid astronomy buff, wants to have his name on something; it bothers him that his father didn't change the company's name when he bought it — this manifests itself in Happer's search for a comet to discover and name. He tells Mac to watch the sky while visiting Scotland, especially around the constellation Virgo.
Upon arriving in Scotland, Mac teams up with local Knox representative Danny Oldsen (
Peter Capaldi). During a visit to a Knox research facility, Mac and Danny learn the scope of the company's plans, which entail replacing Ferness with the refinery. There they meet (and admire) marine researcher Marina ( Jenny Seagrove).
Mac ultimately spends several weeks in Ferness, gradually adapting to the slower-paced life and getting to know the eccentric residents, most notably the hotel owner and accountant, Gordon Urquhart (
Denis Lawson) and his wife, Stella ( Jennifer Black).
As time passes, Mac becomes more and more conflicted as he presses to close the deal that will spell the end of the quaint little village he has come to love. The villagers are tired of the hard life they lead and are more than eager to sell, even feigning indifference to induce a larger offer. Mac receives encouragement from an unlikely source: Victor (Christopher Rozycki), a capitalistic Russian fishing boat captain who periodically visits his friends in Ferness (and checks on his investment portfolio with Gordon).
Meanwhile, Danny befriends Marina, who is under the impression the company is planning to build a research centre at Ferness. During a date, he discovers that Marina, who seems more at home in the water than on land, has webbed toes.
As the deal nears completion, Gordon discovers that Ben Knox (
Fulton Mackay), an old beachcomber who lives in a snug driftwood shack on the shore, actually owns the beach, through a grant from the Lord of the Islesto his ancestor. MacIntyre tries everything to entice Ben to sell, even offering enough money to buy any other beach in the world, but the old man refuses to budge. He is content with what he has.
Happer finally arrives on site, just in time to forestall a potentially nasty confrontation between some of the villagers and Ben; Happer mistakes the mob for a welcoming committee. When Mac informs him of the snag in the proceedings, he decides to negotiate personally with Ben and in the process, discovers a kindred spirit.
Happer opts to locate the refinery offshore and set up an astronomical observatory instead. He instructs MacIntyre to go home to implement the changes. Danny brings up Marina's dream of an oceanographic research facility and suggests combining the two into the "Happer Institute", an idea that Happer likes. Later, Danny finds Marina swimming offshore and tells her the good news.
The film closes with a sombre MacIntyre back home in his apartment as he pins photos of his stay in Ferness to his bulletin board; the film then cuts back to a shot of the phone booth in Ferness, as the telephone rings unanswered, to the music of
Mark Knopfler's "Going Home".
Burt Lancasteras Felix Happer
Peter Riegertas Mac
Fulton Mackayas Ben Knox
Denis Lawsonas Gordon Urquhart
* Norman Chancer as Moritz
Peter Capaldias Oldsen
Rikki Fultonas Geddes
* Alex Norton as Watt
Jenny Seagroveas Marina
Jennifer Blackas Stella
* Christopher Rozycki as Victor
* Christopher Asante as Reverend Macpherson
Critic Richard Skorman lauded the film, noting that, "Bill Forsyth's "Local Hero" spawned a series of imitations, creating a whole new genre of film -- the wacky Scottish comedy...Built on a mountain of metaphysics, "Local Hero," demands a few leaps of faith that are a bit difficult to make. But the premise of a yuppie from Texas traveling to an isolated town in Scotland to make poor but savvy fisherman wealthy is hilarious in itself...Forsyth also superbly contrasts the warmth of Scotland's North Shore with the impersonalization of super-modern Houston... [and] cinematographer Menges captures the serenity of the expansive beach and the power of the ocean and the stars as effectively as any filmmaker in recent history." [Skorman, Richard. "Off-Hollywood Movies," film review of "Local Hero," page 200. New York: Harmony Books, 1989. ISBN 0-517-56863-2.]
Roger Ebertalso gave the film a positive review, commenting, "Here is a small film to treasure, a loving, funny, understated portrait of a small Scottish town and its encounter with a giant oil company...And what could have been a standard plot about conglomerates and ecology, etc., turns instead into a wicked study of human nature." [ [http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19830415/REVIEWS/304150301/1023 Ebert, Roger] . " Chicago Sun-Times," film review, 15 April 1983. Last accessed: 11 January 2008.]
"Variety" magazine film critic, Todd McCarthy, wrote, "After making the grade internationally with the sleeper hit, "
Gregory's Girl," Scottish writer-director Bill Forsyth has broken the sophomore sesh jinx the only way he could, by making an even better film...Given a larger canvas, director Forsyth has in no way attempted to overreach himself or the material, keeping things modest and intimate throughout, but displaying a very acute sense of comic insight." [ [http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117792665.html?categoryid=31&cs=1&p=0 McCarthy, Todd] . "Variety" magazine, film review, 16 February 1983. Last accessed: 11 January 2008.]
The film's soundtrack, which outsold the film itself, was written by
Mark Knopflerof Dire Straits, and is considered amongst his best work. This has led to the popularity of the film with fans of the band; Knopfler has since performed an arrangement of the main theme music ("Going Home") as an encore at many of his concerts.'Local Hero' from the soundtrack is played as Newcastle Unitedtake to the field in their home games played at St James' Park.
"Local Hero" was filmed at several places around Scotland. Most of the village scenes were filmed in
Pennanon the Aberdeenshirecoast, most of the beach scenes at Moraron the west coast. [ [http://www.scotlandthemovie.com/movies/flocalhero.html Scotland: the Movie Location Guide] web site. Last accessed: 9 January 2008.]
Forsyth slipped some sly references into the characters' names. The recurring theme of sea and sky is echoed in the names of the two principal women, Marina and Stella. Also, Ben shares his last name with Happer's oil company and the radio station MacIntyre listens to in his car at the opening of the film (KNOX).
* [http://www.scc.net/~heather/localhero.html "Local Hero"] at Bill Forsyth web-site
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