THE first images have emerged from the location filming of the big-screen version of Sunset Song in the Aberdeenshire countryside where Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s classic novel is set.
They offer the first proper look at the transformation of Agyness Deyn, the English model, fashion designer and actress for the iconic role of Chris Guthrie in the long-awaited film.
The 31-year-old, who was famously discovered by a dress shop owner while working in her local fish and chip shop in Lancashire, has been filming since last week with her Scottish co-stars - Peterhead-born actor Peter Mullan, star of Trainspotting, My Name Is Joe and War Horse, and Glasgow-born Kevin Guthrie, who shot to prominence last year with his role in the “Proclaimers musical” Sunshine on Leith, which Mullan also appeared in.
Edinburgh-based producer Bob Last and Terence Davies, the English director who made House of Mirth with him, have spent around 15 months trying to get the first film version of the 1932 novel off the ground.
They have pledged to ensure the beauty of the landscape in the film’s “spiritual home” will be fully captured so that “the land will feature as a character in its own right.”
The Scotsman revealed last month how two weeks of filming were planned in rural Aberdeenshire in a bid to capture the mood of Grassic Gibbon’s book, which a young woman’s struggles growing up in a dysfunctional family in a small north-east farming community.
The cast and crew have already travelled to the other side of the world to film scenes set during the Aberdeenshire harvest season, with a farm in Christchurch, New Zealand, standing in for the Mearns landscape where Sunset Song unfolds, while interior filming was carried out at a major studio in Luxembourg.
The film’s producers say the film - which is partly set during the First World War - see Deyn play “a young woman coming of age as her family is beset by tragedy, all during a time of great social upheaval and unrest.”
Sunset Song was the first in what became to became to be known as Aberdeenshire-born Grassic Gibbon’s “A Scots Quair” trilogy. The BBC turned the book into a TV series in 1971 and in 2005 Sunset Song was named the “Best Scottish Book of All Time” at the Edinburgh International Book Festival after a six-week poll.
The making of Sunset Song is being backed financially by BBC Scotland, the British Film Institute and arts agency Creative Scotland.
Ben Roberts, director of the BFI’s film fund said: “Terence Davies is one of our finest filmmakers, whose visually stunning and emotionally penetrating films have opened the eyes, hearts and minds of audiences around the world. We are excited beyond belief by how he is working with the landscape and bringing his long-cherished Sunset Song to the big screen.”
Ewan Angus, BBC Scotland’s commissioning editor, said: “Sunset Song is one of the classic Scottish novels and it’s a book which really resonates with all age groups, so we’re delighted to support this latest dramatisation.”
Caroline Parkinson, director of creative development at Creative Scotland, added: “It’s great to see an iconic and well-known Scottish story being translated to the big screen by an internationally renowned director.”