Highlander to return to big screen after 30 years

IT is the swashbuckling fantasy about an immortal warrior who must do battle with the forces of evil in order to keep his head.

Highlander has been restored. Picture: contributed
Highlander has been restored. Picture: contributed

Boasting epic sword-fights, a soundtrack by Queen and a starring role for Sean Connery, the film became a cult classic after its 1986 release,

Now, 30 years later, a digitally restored version of Highlander is set to have its world premiere at next month’s Edinburgh International Film Festival.

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The anniversary screening at Cineworld, Fountain Park, on June 18 will be attended by US actor Clancy Brown, who played hero Connor MacLeod’s head-hunting nemesis, the evil Kurgan.

And the screening comes as the festival celebrates a milestone of its own – its 70th edition.

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The storyline, which is told in a series of flashbacks, flits around between New York in the 1980s and the 16th-century Highlands when Connor MacLeod (Christopher Lambert) first discovers he is not like other men.

After doing battle with a rival clan he is dealt what should be his death blow by mercenary Kurgan only to find he cannot die.

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Brutally driven out of his home by villagers suspicious of his strange powers, he is then befriended and trained in the art of swordsmanship by the charismatic Ramirez (Connery).

And he soon learns from the newcomer that he is part of a group of immortals who must do battle until there is only one left alive.

Brown was acclaimed as a cult icon thanks to his performance as the evil Kurgan while Lambert was soulful as the hero Connor – though the Frenchman’s attempt at a Scottish accent is widely recognised as dreadful.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh-born Connery proves that crimes against accents cuts both ways when he portrays the an Egyptian/Spaniard with his Scottish brogue.

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Clancy said: “It’s taken a while, but I swore to myself that I would return again to Scotland after filming Highlander 30 years ago where I first learned of Robert the Bruce, James Macpherson, The Fortingall Yew and, most blissfully, single-malt Scotch whisky.”

Film restorers from Deluxe London have scanned the original camera negatives to create a 4K high-resolution version with the approval of director Russell Mulcahy.

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Mark Adams, EIFF artistic director, said: “We are truly delighted to be screening this cult classic on its 30th anniversary. It is a vibrant, fun and thrilling film and just as entertaining as it was all of those years ago.

“Plus it features some magnificent Scottish locations. This will be a great celebratory event for the 70th edition of EIFF.”

A spokesman for the Festival added that other special guests would be revealed closer to the date of the screening.