‘BLOODY HELL Robert the Bruce movie Outlaw King will feature some of the bloodiest battle scenes in cinema history’, put Braveheart in the shade and boost tourism like Outlander.


© Daily Record

That’s the typically restrained headline from the Sun, above, for the new £100 million epic being produced for Netflix, on the life of Robert the Bruce. It’s expected to have levels of violence comparable to Game of Thrones and, I expect, a bit more accuracy than Braveheart as it will be scripted by Scottish writer David Mackenzie who previously wrote the critically acclaimed Young Adam and Hallam Foe.

We know that Outlander has had a part to play in Scotland’s recent tourism boom. See these earlier reports:

‘Outlander links see visitors to historic sites soaring’

Tourism spending in Scotland surges ahead of UK figure

We can surely expect further increases after Outlaw King is released. Hopefully it will not be held back before Indeyref2, as Outlander was for the first referendum in 2014. Filming was completed last month but I can’t find a release date. I’ve already considered whether Outlander alone might have an effect on Indyref2 at:

Outlander arrives on Freeview TV. Can it affect the outcome of Indyref2?

I suppose the key issue/concern is that it accurately reflects the popular nature of the struggle and doesn’t focus just on the personal vanity and ambitions of an Anglo-Scottish aristocrat.

Footnote: Here’s a short amateur video and stills of two of the film locations:




30 thoughts on “‘BLOODY HELL Robert the Bruce movie Outlaw King will feature some of the bloodiest battle scenes in cinema history’, put Braveheart in the shade and boost tourism like Outlander.

  1. William Henderson December 10, 2017 / 1:34 pm

    Good for business and I suppose all publicity is good publicity, but I wish the film industry would turn its attention to the life and times of William Wallace – the non-Anglo-Norman hero of our past.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. William Henderson December 10, 2017 / 1:41 pm

    PS: ‘Braveheart’ I Know, but I’m referring to the real deal on Wallace.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. BSA December 10, 2017 / 3:42 pm

    Dismissing Bruce’s achievement as the vanity of an Anglo Scottish aristocrat is a cheap Unionist argument, the kind of nonsense we have had from ‘British’ history for some 200 years.
    Scotland survived because, unlike Wales and Ireland, it was a mainstream European Kingdom with the feudal and ecclesiastical institutions which made it effective and, in the eyes of Europe and the Pope, legitimate. That kingdom was created by a line of kings who were a mix of the Celtic and the Anglo Norman. Feudal aristocracies throughout Europe were not dissimilar in their diversity.
    The Scots kings grafted the new feudal and Roman Catholic systems on to the native Celtic populations and structures in ways which respected the Celtic base, which were largely supported by it, and which produced a looser and more consensual rule than some ( e.g. England). But it was a kingdom which could still produce armies united from very diverse regions.
    The revolt against the English began with the ‘middle sort’ of people who rejected the much heavier hand of English rule and they followed Bruce because he was the most effective leader and because he was from the class which every Kingdom in Europe looked to for leadership. He was also the son of an ‘Anglo Scottish’ (of 200 years standing) father and a Gaelic speaking mother from the Celtic feudal aristocracy.
    The real inaccuracy of Braveheart was its depiction of Scots as plucky but primitive people wearing skins. By dismissing Bruce’s achievement you are endorsing that view and ultimately endorsing the narrative of British history which tells us that these plucky but primitive people would eventually have to be civilised by the Union. Without its Celtic/Anglo Norman feudal mix and the effective modernising kingdom which that helped to create Scotland might have had Ireland’s history of 600 years of racial warfare imposed by an oppressive colonising Anglo Norman aristocracy fresh out of England. Instead Scotland absorbed the Anglo Norman contribution gradually on its own terms along with other modernising influences in exactly the same manner we will need post independence.

    Liked by 1 person

    • William Henderson December 10, 2017 / 4:50 pm

      Interesting and well put BSA, but without the efforts of Wallace it’s debatable that Robert de Brus would have had his opportunity for glory. That glory was found in a power struggle not between the Scots and English peoples, who supplied the soldiery, but between foreign elites of the respective countries

      On a broader point, those who participated as principals in the signing of the Treaty of Union were largely descendants of those of the (partially) Anglo-Norman aristocracy of the time of Wallace and de Brus. The political and social arrangements of early 1300s Scotland contained the elements of their nation’s downfall.

      Liked by 1 person

      • BSA December 10, 2017 / 9:23 pm

        Comparing Wallace, the ‘people’s hero’, with Bruce, the ‘scheming aristocrat’, is pointless. That’s what ‘Braveheart’ does. It judges medieval society by present day ideas. They were both products of the same age and society. Wallace’s contribution was huge but he was a Guardian a position, the creation of which, showed how robust and sophisticated the Scottish Kingdom was, and a position which was used successfully more than once when a Scottish king was impotent, as Balliol was. Independence would only be guaranteed by a Scottish king recognised by the Pope and a king could only come from the ‘elite’. That was the norm in feudal society everywhere and the elites in feudal society generally crossed present day national frontiers because there were no nations in the modern sense. Bruce was the man, through both birth and ability, who was able to lead popular resistance (the ‘soldiery’ ) to the English and to guarantee an independent kingdom. The fact that he was an aristocrat seeking the throne is irrelevant. He was both a man of his time and a winner and the circumstances of his and Wallace’s achievements created what was in some respects the first of the European nations.

        Blaming the Union on the Anglo Norman aristocracy is, with respect, daft. There were far more factors at work as well as 400 years elapsed.


    • Alasdair Macdonald. December 10, 2017 / 5:15 pm

      BSA, I endorse you measured and nuanced response, with its caution against unionist attempts to divide and rule, by insinuating that those who lived in Scotland at any period of history were inferior ‘primitives’ who required the leadership of some incomer class to resist the hegemonic power, and that, in any case, that leadership class was just in it for its own ends.

      The history of the ‘creation’ of Scotland, like the history of all nations, is about the fusion of different cultures of different groups who were seeking to make a living in this part of the world – the Picts, the Britons (Welsh), the Scots, the Angles, The Norse, etc and the various intruders, such as Romans and Normans. It is a dynamic process. Our history contains glorious, heroic, creative, bloody, shameful, destructive periods as do the histories of other nations.

      But, we have history and it is a distinctive history. We are not claiming to be superior or cringing in our inferiority. We are simply asserting that we have history. It intertwines with a lot of the history of England, but, as you say, it also has strong European branches.


    • johnrobertson834 December 10, 2017 / 8:58 pm

      You feel Bruce was a patriot? I just would like to be sure credit goes the popular rising.


      • BSA December 10, 2017 / 9:32 pm

        That is explicit in my first post. But a mediaeval popular rising could not be united or sustainable without a king and a king could only come from a member of the feudal elite with a royal lineage that would allow him to be anointed by the Pope. That was how the Middle Ages worked. John McLean would not have cut it in 1314.


      • BSA December 10, 2017 / 9:43 pm

        No-one was a patriot in the modern sense in the 1290s. Patriotism in Scotland only began to be forged through the subsequent wars with England and Bruce was important to that as anyone else.


  4. Dsn December 11, 2017 / 5:38 am

    I loved all the comments!


  5. johnrobertson834 December 11, 2017 / 10:01 am

    BSA, sorry for not reading your first comment thoroughly before responding. You are explicit about the popular element in the revolt. I’m not sure that no one was a patriot in the 1290s though. One of my offspring is doing History at Glasgow and her course material suggests a sense of Scottish identity was emerging even in the 12th C with the introduction of common law and a separate Church.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. johnrobertson834 December 11, 2017 / 10:03 am

    When I say, patriot, I don’t of course mean in the modern sense, but still something of the sort.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. johnrobertson834 December 11, 2017 / 10:05 am

    BLOODY HELL 1 692 readers! Best I’ve had since I argued Hilary would even worse for world peace than Trump would be and had 9 701!


    • BSA December 11, 2017 / 1:19 pm

      History is important. It is especially important to Scotland because ‘British’ history has always told us that we were backward and ungovernable. It also tells us that English history was a steady and inevitable progress towards civilisation and democracy which, along the way, absorbed and saved the Welsh, Irish and Scots and then the Empire and the world. They looked backwards from the height of Empire and deluded themselves that their rise was inevitable because of their innate superiority. Those views are now ingrained among many Scots as well as English and ‘British’ history still tells us essentially the same story, especially popular broadcast versions. BBC network is full of English and Anglocentric British history, both drama and documentary. Endless Tudors annually. Lately the Wars of the Roses, The English Reformation, The Gunpowder Plot. All of these and many more celebrate English history while Scottish history is totally ignored except as a few stereotypical ‘noises off’ in the British story. There is no opportunity for popular history to challenge the ‘loser’ myth. Is that deliberate ? You tell me.

      Liked by 2 people

      • johnrobertson834 December 11, 2017 / 1:51 pm

        I used to be in teacher-training and would find schools teaching about the Tudors because a publisher chose to produce books for pupils on a combined theme of ‘Tudors and Stuarts’


    • John August 4, 2018 / 9:14 am

      See , you don’t know whose lurking out there John , one thing this piece tells you is that your readers like their Scottish history , but only of course if it is accurate . No kilt for Wallace , no face paint , not much long hair , people mostly dressed like most other Europeans , they were actually quite civilised by the standard of the day . But hey ho , without these things would the film have had such an impact ,after all it really was aimed at the American market and we know how much they love their Scottish heritage even if it was all in Gibson’s head .


  8. William Henderson December 11, 2017 / 10:15 am

    Ah, I see. So Wallace’s part in history has to be down-played because he caused upset to a section of the sacred feudal system?


    • BSA December 11, 2017 / 12:56 pm

      I don’t understand your comment. Wallace was one of two Guardians, a position created to lead the country in the absence of a functioning king. The nobility supporting Balliol endorsed the appointment because Wallace, although of much lower rank, was a leader. His role has never been downplayed, just the opposite. But the idea that he was somehow morally superior to Bruce because of his rank and his integrity does not acknowledge the conditions of the time or the complexity of the politics. It also plays to the story of ‘British’ history that Scotland was a loser until the Union.
      To whom is the feudal system sacred ? It was just a fact of the period, with Scotland having a version that suited its own circumstances.


      • Alasdair Macdonald December 11, 2017 / 9:03 pm

        BSA, Again, I agree. We have to evaluate things in the circumstances of their own times and locations.

        Often, when we delve into the lives of heroes of a previous generation we are disappointed to find they supported some things that are not acceptable in the present circumstances. Indeed, if we are to be honest with ourselves and look back at things we did and attitudes we held even a few years ago do we have the courage to admit to ourselves we were wrong? As often as not, we will justify these actions to ourselves because of the conditions ‘at the time’ – and, probably, we will mainly be right and not just for self-delusion.

        So, let us give historical figures some consideration in the context of their times, because what they did had a lasting effect and brought significant change. There were probably things in their lives that were reprehensible, even by the standards of their time, but these do not annul the good.

        Often, those of us who are always scrupulously ‘politically correct’ – and most of us are on some things, some of the time – fall victim to the perfectionist fallacy that unless everything in a person’s life was Simon pure, then one flaw damns every action, no matter how good. Consider how some used Robert Burns reported intention to go to the West Indies as a slave driver as evidence that ALL his works, including such as “A Man’s a Man for a’ That” should be damned as hypocrisy. Another example is the ‘false dichotomy’, where Wallace and Bruce have been presented as opposites or contenders because of their relative stations in life.

        These weasel arguments have to be confronted.


      • Alasdair Macdonald December 11, 2017 / 9:31 pm

        BSA – does that not stand for “Birmingham Small Arms”? Although it made famous motorcycles it was originally a weapons company and since I am opposed to the arms trade and as you share initials with a former company everything you say must be tainted!!!??? An example of politically correct unco guidness.

        Liked by 1 person

      • BSA December 11, 2017 / 10:05 pm

        BSA = Best Scrap Available Alasdair, so I was always told.

        Liked by 1 person

    • William Henderson December 11, 2017 / 2:31 pm

      Hush, John. Your blog has just become the go-to place on the internet for information on the history of early Scotland.


  9. Graemeo Rab December 12, 2017 / 1:22 pm

    Great read and great comments. With regards readership numbers I have only in the past few weeks found this page/blog and now add it to my top 5 go to places for Information.(more than happy to donate a few quid when required) .


    • johnrobertson834 December 12, 2017 / 2:32 pm

      Thanks Graemeo
      Now 4 650 reads
      I often get less than 1 000 so pleased
      It’s free. I’m retired with time on my hands apart from this mission

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Pete December 12, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    I am no expert on Scottish history, but on the subject of accuracy, it is GAME, not ‘Land’ of Thrones. Try watching a single episode, that will fix it in your head (as well as give you an idea of the levels of violence you are talking about).


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s