Tilda Swinton to present special Culloden battle screening


By Rory Reynolds

SCOTS Oscar winner Tilda Swinton is to present a special screening of the 1964 film Culloden – at the site of the battle where the Jacobite army was originally crushed.

And audiences are to wear black tartan in memory of the Highland troops slaughtered there in 1746.

The acclaimed docu-drama, which shocked many viewers at the time, was filmed in the style of a modern news report to draw parallels with the war reports coming out of Vietnam.

48-year-old Swinton and filmmaker Mark Cousins are hoping to focus audiences’ minds on those killed during current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

She said: “The battle itself took just over an hour, as does the film.

“Imagine how moving it would be if we could get permission to show the film at Culloden itself.

“Imagine if we started the screening at 1pm, when the combat began.

“We are honoured to say that the custodians of the site have given us permission to do this.”

The battle took place in 1746, and saw exhausted and starving Highlanders massacred by better-equipped government forces.

Her filmmaker colleague Cousins is encouraging viewers to dress in black or tartan to honour those killed in current conflicts, as well as those who died in the original clash.

He said: “We are asking people to dress in tartan or black if they wish because the film is an angry art that says to the dead ‘you have not been forgotten’”

“It says to the audience ‘look how military f**k-ups cost lives’ and we want to make a visual statement out of respect for those who died.

“By showing this film we are not pointing only to the Scottish dead in Afghanistan, but to any combatants who have died in current wars as a result of bad politics and bad planning.”

Historian and SNP MSP Rob Gibson hopes the screening will encourage people to understand the significance of the battle.

He said: “Tilda Swinton’s efforts in bringing the film to the moor are valuable as part of helping people understand the complexities of what happened before, during and after Culloden.

“Peter Watkins’ film is a fantastic depiction of what the battle was actually like and did an excellent job of highlighting the horrors of war.

“In our year of Homecoming it’s important to remember that many people will find out that their descendants fought on both sides, with some family members even lining up against each other.”

The film will be presented at a one-off screening on 5 August at the site, which is managed by the Scottish National Trust.