What would you watch, if time was of the essence? If you could enjoy and appreciate one film, and one film only. Choose one cinematic experience to relive. If you were given 60 seconds to choose one last film? Could you take your pick? I could, hands down. It would be Local Hero. The 1983 film that will forever be timeless for me. A fusion of superb music and a wonderful story that is bought to life by characters who are both hopelessly flawed and funny. Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame created a sensitive backdrop for the the lives of the characters. In fact, the characters are many things, but above all they are familiar. One can empathise with at least one of them. None more so than Mr Mac, the main protagonist of the film.
It is a joy to watch the plot of this beautiful film gradually transform, but an even greater pleasure to watch Macintyre become progressively more dishevilled. In the opening scenes he is a clean shaven, suited and booted afficianado of the Fossil Fuels rat race. Serendipity (and a Scottish-sounding name) appoint him as the negotiator for a new Oil refinery venture in remote Scotland, and he throws himself in to it with Capitalist aplomb. Nevertheless, once he arrives he undergoes a baptismal sea change. He metamorphoses in to a stubly shell-collecting sea and beach addict. The place ignites his bones. I love it.
Local Hero is full of wonderful, subtle references to stepping back and taking time to look at the world around us, but the most crystal clear moment for me is a brief shot in which the tide washes over Macintyre’s abandoned digital wristwatch, doggedly announcing conference time in Houston as the Scottish sea swirls in to its inner workings. He laid it aside whilst collecting sea shells, a practice that I still adore, whenever close to the seashore. Another favourite scene of mine (there are so many), is the conversation captured in the image below. A Russian, Vodka Loving Romantic and the reformed Oil Tycoon, thrown together by fate. It is a joyful metaphor for what life can reveal to people when they least expect it. The key is to step out of one’s comfort zone, and look around.
There is a true smorgasbord of characters to this superb film, but the most underappreciated is surely the scarlet telephone box from the image above. In sleepy Scotland it is the one means of contact, the bridge, and bedrock, between this new experience and Macintyre’s old life. He has a cosmic experience within the four red walls when describing a meteor shower to his heartbreakingly eccentric boss, and it is this box that takes centre stage in the final frame of the film. What better way to end a film than with a ringing telephone, and all of the questions that this raises? If you have watched this film, then I hope that you feel some affinity with what I have written. If not then please, please go and buy this film. Watch it. Enjoy. It is special.
© Tom Tide 2016