Monday, 9 January 2017

Lockerbie film is a tantalising prospect

[This is the headline over a report in today’s edition of The Scotsman. It reads in part:]

There is no doubt over the quality of filmmakers like Ken Loach, Lynne Ramsay and Peter Mullan, who have been garlanded at some of the world’s leading film festivals for the work they have made in Scotland in the last 20 years or so. There have been numerous portrayals of working class Scots in films like Red Road, My Name is Joe, Ratcatcher, Small Faces and Orphans.

But it is hard to think of many films which have even touched upon the major events of modern-day Scotland.

While the playwrights of the day have regularly tackled the political upheaval in Scotland since the 1970s, filmmakers have been curiously reluctant to tackle some of the defining events that have shaped the country. That is perhaps why it is so intriguing to hear that a feature film exploring the conspiracy theories behind the Lockerbie disaster is being planned by one of the current crop of leading filmmakers.

Lockerbie has long been seen as an untouchable subject for writers and filmmakers to tackle. But the sensitive filmmaking deployed in Fire in the Night, the BAFTA Scotland-winning documentary about the Piper Alpha disaster, offered proof of the power of the real-life stories behind the tragedy and its enduring impact.

Kevin Macdonald, who made State of Play and The Last King of Scotland is perhaps best known for the Oscar-winning documentary One Day In September, which charted events at the 1972 Munich Olympic when a group of Israeli athletes were massacred.

With his Glasgow roots and strong track record over the last two decades it is hard to think of a British filmmaker more suited to attempting the unenviable task of distilling the Lockerbie story into a couple of hours. While expectations are already sky high about the forthcoming sequel to Trainspotting, the prospect about a feature film on the biggest conspiracy of modern times in Scotland is a tantalising one.

[RB: A report in today’s edition of The Times contains the following:]

The Lockerbie disaster, in which 270 aircrew, passengers and town residents died in a terrorist bombing, is to be made into a film by one of Scotland’s leading directors.

Kevin Macdonald, who won an Oscar for his documentary about the murder of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics, said he planned to shed light on the “unanswered conspiracy” behind Britain’s worst terrorist atrocity. (...)

The script is being developed by David Harrower, one of Scotland’s most acclaimed playwrights. The film will be produced by the dramatist Christopher Young. (...)

Film4 and the British Film Institute (BFI) are providing finance, with a possible release date at the end of next year to coincide with the disaster’s 30th anniversary. (...)

Young said: “We don’t believe al-Megrahi was responsible. There are a number of people in Scotland who feel very strongly that justice was ill-served. If we are to have any faith in our justice system we need to know the truth.”


  1. Excellent!

    We now hope that these people will refrain from exercising too much artistic freedom for the benefit of drama.

    An inclusion of the decisive evidence in Morag Kerr´s "Adequately explained..." could make the movie one of the more important contributions of our time.

  2. Several people have contacted me about various films, over the past three years. These guys have not. If they've been considering this for ten years that puts the original concept way before the Heathrow revelations. It may be they are entirely unaware of that aspect.

    After all, it's not something that any of the main players in the Lockerbie saga have thought worth mentioning much, so they may think it's not important.

  3. Professor your blog used to float to page 2 when ppl google Lockerbie Bombing & now it floats to page 7.... seems like ppl fear the truth. I just know there was a cover-up and would like to know it sooner rather than later. Have a great day! Sharyn

    1. Positions in Google for specific keywords change all the time.
      Not surprisingly, large and famous publishers tend to go higher than smaller ones.

      Among many other parameters, the title and the headlines of a publication is important. There is not really a reason why this blog should end near the top for "lockerbie bombing" (at time of writing it came on the middle of page 3). For "lockerbie case" it is number 1.

      All is well!