Despite its classic status, efforts to bring Sunset Song to the big screen have toiled for around 15 years – until now.
Cameras are finally about to start rolling in the Aberdeenshire countryside, where Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s story of a young woman’s struggles growing up in a dysfunctional family in a farming community is set. However, it has emerged that key scenes have already been shot in New Zealand.
But the film-makers – including Dundee-based producer Bob Last, who worked on the mainly Edinburgh-set animated feature The Illusionist – have revealed they have travelled to the other side of the world to shoot some scenes, with a specially harvested crop on a farm in New Zealand standing in for the Mearns landscape where Sunset Song unfolds.
Last, who has reunited with Liverpool-born director Terence Davies on the project, insisted the move was necessary to help keep production costs down during the shoot, which has to reflect the changing of the seasons in rural Aberdeenshire, where Grassic Gibbon was raised.
Two images of the film’s main stars – English actress Agyness Deyn and veteran Glasgow actor Peter Mullan – show them in the Christchurch countryside.
Published in 1932, Sunset Song was the first in what came to be known as the author’s A Scots Quair trilogy. The BBC turned the book into a TV series in 1971 and, in 2005, it was named the best Scottish book of all time at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.