Lighthouse mystery coming to the big screen

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ONE of Scotland’s most gripping real-life mysteries is being made in to star-studded movie.

The three keepers of the Flannan Isles lighthouse vanished without a trace more than a century ago.

The chilling tale is now being recreated for the big screen by the director of the Nordic noir hit TV series The Killing, with Scots actors Gerard Butler and Peter Mullan taking lead roles.

The stars – plus talented newcomer Joe Alwyn – will play the original keepers, Thomas Marshall, Donald MacArthur and James Ducat.

ONE of Scotland's most gripping real-life mysteries is being made in to star-studded movie.
ONE of Scotland’s most gripping real-life mysteries is being made in to star-studded movie. Credit: Chris Downer

The men disappeared from the island, 20 miles west of Lewis, in 1900. No bodies were ever found.

There was no sign of struggle in the lighthouse other than an overturned chair, but oddly there was a set of unused oilskins left behind, suggesting one of the men had gone outside without them.

Although the island was badly damaged by wind and waves, the oil fired lamps were clean and refilled and the men’s beds were unmade, however the clocks in the tower had stopped.

The story, which has been told for generations, has become almost folklore in Scotland.

Award-winning Danish film-maker Kristoffer Nyholm confirmed this week that the movie, to be called Keepers, is in pre-production.

A script has been written and filming is due to start, in the UK, next year.

The official investigation in to the keepers’ disappearance concluded that they were likely swept over the cliffs in to the sea whilst trying to secure something outside.

But the new take on the mysterious story, according to the synopsis, will offer an interesting fate for the men.

Gerard Butler to star in the gripping film. Credit Gordon Correll
Gerard Butler to star in the gripping film. Credit Gordon Correll

The “terrifying” new incarnation of the story will pit the three men against on another and it will become a “tense battle for survival”.

It reads: “as Thomas [Mullan], James [ Butler] and Donald [Alwyn] settle into their usual, solitary routines, something unexpected and potentially life-changing occurs – they stumble upon something that isn’t theirs to keep.

“Where does it come from? Who does it belong to? A boat appears in the distance that might hold the answer to these questions…

“What follows is a tense battle for survival as personal greed replaces loyalty – and fed by isolation and paranoia, three honest men are led down a path to destruction.”

Mr Nyholm said: “I feel incredibly fortunate to have Gerard Butler, Peter Mullan and Joe Alwyn leading the cast of the Keepers.

The three keepers of the Flannan Isles lighthouse vanished without a trace more than a century ago. Credit: Chris Downer
The three keepers of the Flannan Isles lighthouse vanished without a trace more than a century ago.
Credit: Chris Downer

“They are great actors who are deeply committed to this project, and who will go the distance. These men are the strong and unique characters at the heart of this story, which is a journey from innocence to animalistic survival.

“Keepers was great to read, will be an adventure to make, and terrifying to watch.”

Still Game’s Greg Hemphill who wrote and directed West Skerra Light, a lighthouse horror comedy shown on the BBC last night, commented on the new film.

He joked: “That was quick. West Skerra Light only went out last night and The Hollywood remake is already in the works!”

 
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