Susan Morrison: Why I’m feeling quite contrary about Mary

You wait yonks for a film set in Scotland, and then two show up at one time. Typical. Robert the Bruce got in first with Outlaw King. Our hero was portrayed by the new Captain Kirk in the recent Star Trek reboot.

Universal's epic historical drama, Mary Queen of Scots.
Universal's epic historical drama, Mary Queen of Scots.

It was actually pretty good, once you got past the idea that the commander of the USS Enterprise was somehow stuck in 14th century Scotland with a beard and a passable Scottish accent. C’mon, that’s an episode of Star Trek we’d all want to see.

It moved along at a right old clip. There were some great action scenes, swan strangling (not a euphemism), beheading, arms getting nailed to posts and Chris Pine in the bare buff. I am aware that we should all be on our guard against objectifying members of the opposite gender, but, heavens above, this actor suffered for his art. He was forced to swim in a Highland burn whilst wearing nothing but a Morningside accent and then stand up in the altogether. The very least we can do is admire his courage. Which I did.

That global superstar of the Stuart dynasty, Mary Queen of Scots, recently landed in all her movie glory. I went to see it, so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

Filmed in Scotland, Outlaw King reunites director David Mackenzie (Hell or High Water) with star Chris Pine alongside Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Florence Pugh and Billy Howle.

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There’s a cast of seriously good Scottish actors in there. Actual Scottish people with actual Scottish accents, who for some reason ramp up those accents to level 11 and start to sound weirdly like American actors playing Scottish people.

Noblemen in the 16th century must have been slightly deaf. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the endless bellowing at each other. Of course, it might be that they can’t hear because of the hair. Everyone has hair. Lots of it.

Mary was apparently surrounded by the surviving members of a 1970s heavy metal band, complete with leather codpieces. Perhaps that’s why they were a bit Mutt and Jeff. Too many stadium gigs.

David Tennant shows up as John Knox, looking alarmingly like the ­villain who gets his disguise pulled off by the Scooby Doo gang at the end of each episode.

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Mary’s life was complicated. We know that, because everyone endlessly told us what was happening in the plot of another, far more expensive film that we weren’t allowed to see.

Doors were forever being barged open and blokes just breenged in shouting things like “Your Grace, the Earl of Tesco marches now on ­Sainsbury. Make haste. The Duke of Lidl rides this night with the French Count of Asda for the coast. Your overlordship of the throne of Aldi is threatened.”

Bang on cue (well, you’d expect that, these people are professional ­actors) some other dude would say “The Queen cannot relinquish Waitrose!” And off they’d go again explaining stuff to us.

There was an eerie moment when I thought at least one hairy man was ­going to lean out of the screen and bawl “keep up at the back there, ­because there’s a multiple choice exam at the end”.

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Well, the frocks were nice.

When the shouty men got tiresome, we could at least tick off the castles. Linlithgow, Craigmillar and Blackness all got screen glory, some in both films. They must have had nothing but hairy men in leather traipsing about the castles all summer.

Must have been tricky. Looks like they had to move pretty sharpish to get those Bruce era rotting heads off the spikes outside Blackness before Mary and her backing band showed up, roaring the plot at bemused Chinese tourists.

Pretty as a picture

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In both films Scotland played an absolute blinder in the starring role and looked sensational, with a lot less of that Ireland standing in as a stunt-double we saw in Braveheart. I could practically hear VisitScotland weep for joy.

At the third stroke it will be a total wind-up

The young man sitting next to me in the meeting said: “That’s an unusual fitness tracker on your wrist”

“It isn’t,” I said. “It’s a watch.”

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“It just tells the time?” says he.

“Yes”, I said, “that’s all it does.”

He frowned, little lamb, and then said, “Ah, these days we use our phone to check the time.”

I said: “We used to use our phones to tell the time, too. We would pick up the receiver and dial and a posh woman would tell you what time it was.”

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“That was a landline,” he cried. “My gran had one!”

Ouch.

“But,” said my tactless young friend, “how did you find out the time if you were out?”

“Well,” I said. “We wrote it down and carried it about for the whole day. If people asked you for the time later, you would say, I don’t know, but when I left the house at the third stroke it will be 3.33 and 10 seconds, and we figured it out from there.”

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Do you know, I think he believed me . . .