Movies & TV

Scotland provides the perfect backdrop for the world of cinema with its rugged landscape and stunning scenery and has been used for a number of films, including Braveheart and Harry Potter.

Scotland’s stunning landscape, with its rolling hills, rugged mountains, picturesque towns and villages, castles and sprawling beaches has provided the perfect backdrop for the world of cinema.

What better way to celebrate this fantastic movie heritage than by following the country’s movie trails, seeking out the recognisable scenery from some of the best loved films of all time?

One of the most recent movie trails to open will take you on a guided James Bond Tour of Scotland and includes sites used in From Russia with Love, The World Is Not Enough and of course Skyfall.

Essential facts about movies made in Scotland

  • Delve into the magical world of Harry Potter with a trip to the Highlands and board the Jacobite train, which featured in the films as the Hogwarts Express. Follow in the footsteps of Harry and friends and take the journey from Fort William to Mallaig over the stunning Glenfinnan Viaduct.
  • Eilean Donan Castle, near the Kyle of Lochalsh, was transformed into MI6 HQ in the 1999 James Bond film The World is Not Enough and used in the 1984 Highlander film starring Sean Connery.
  • The animation, The Illusionist, which opened the 2010 Edinburgh International Film Festival and was partly set in Scotland, was created in a purpose-built studio in Edinburgh.
  • Head to the picturesque Isle of Mull and visit Duart Castle which served as a filming location for a number of motion pictures throughout the years, most notably the 1999 Entrapment with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones in 1999.

Timeline – top Scottish films and their locations

1945 – I Know Where I’m Going! – a romance film written and directed by British-based filmmakers Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, starring Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey. Filmed on location at Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, Argyll & The Isles.

1949 – Whisky Galore – adaptation of Compton MacKenzie’s novel, filmed on the Isle of Barra.

1971 – When Eight Bells Toll – based upon Scottish author Alistair MacLean’s 1965 novel of the same name, it stars Anthony Hopkins as a British agent. It was directed by Etienne Perier and filmed on location at Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, Argyll.

1973 – The Wicker Man – the cult movie was filmed in the Dumfries & Galloway towns of Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Creetown and Kirkcudbright.

1974 – Monty Python and the Holy Grail – a British comedy film parodying the legends of King Arthur that was part-filmed on the premises of Doune Castle near Stirling

1981 – Gregory’s Girl – Bill Forsyth’s coming-of-age romantic comedy used the exterior of Abronhill High School in Cumbernauld.

1981 – Chariots of Fire – the West Sands beach in St Andrews was used for the iconic scenes in this Oscar winning film.

1983 – Local Hero – filmed across Scotland including in Pennan, Aberdeenshire and on Camusdarach beach, Morar.

1995 – Braveheart – the sweeping landscape in and around Glen Nevis and Loch Leven provided the backdrop for Mel Gibson’s Oscar winner.

1996 – Trainspotting – launched the international career of Ewan McGregor and was filmed in Edinburgh (Princes Street and Calton Road), Glasgow and Rannoch Moor.

1999 – Entrapment – is a four time award-winning film directed by Jon Amiel and starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones. The plot is about an insurance agent sent by her employer to track down and help capture an art thief, and the filming took place on location at Duart Castle on the Isle of Mull, Argyll.

2002 – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was the first of the Harry Potter movies to feature the stunning view of the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Highlands.

2006 – The Da Vinci Code – the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel in Roslin, Midlothian, played an important role in Dan Brown’s award-winning novel and featured in the film adaptation, starring Tom Hanks.

2011 – Captain America: The First Avenger – Parts of the opening scenes in Norway were actually filmed in the picturesque Royal Burgh of Culross inFife.

2011 – The Eagle – Loch Lomond, Wester Ross and Stirling all feature in the historical epic directed by Glasgow-born Kevin MacDonald.

2011 – One Day – the film was based on the novel by David Nicholls. It featured many iconic shots of Edinburgh, where the two main characters went to university.

2012 – Prometheus – Ridley Scott’s return to sci-fi after more than 30 years saw stars such as Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Idris Elba exploring whether humans are linked to highly advanced extra-terrestrials. With the magnificent rocky landscape, misty skies, Cuillin mountains and glistening waters, it’s no surprise that Skye was chosen as one of the filming locations for this blockbuster sci-fi epic.

2012 – The Dark Knight Rises – Villain Bane’s dramatic escape from one aircraft to another was filmed above the Cairngorms. This spectacular scene was originally meant to be filmed in Arizona, USA, however filmmakers felt the Highlands were “more visually distinct”.

2012 – Brave – Disney•Pixar’s Oscar award-winning animation followed the flame-haired heroine Merida, a skilled teenage archer battling to change her fate.

2012 – Skyfall – Scenes from the James Bond film, featuring Daniel Craig in his third outing as 007 were shot in and around Glencoe, in the shadow of Buachaille Etive Mor.

2013 – Under the Skin – adaptation of Michel Faber’s book of the same name starring Scarlett Johannson. Areas around Glencoe, just south of Loch Ba were used in the film, as well as the harbour and beach area at Auchmithie, near Arbroath.

2013 – World War Z – Brad Pitt brought Glasgow city centre to a standstill in August 2011 as the city was transformed into the streets of Philadelphia for his zombie-themed movie.

2013 – Sunshine on Leith – based on the sensational stage hit of the same name, Sunshine on Leith features music by pop-folk band The Proclaimers. Set in Edinburgh, the story follows two soldiers who struggle to adjust to civilian life when they return home after serving in Afghanistan.

2014 – Outlander – an adaptation of a hugely popular time travel romance and fantasy adventure series adapted from the critically acclaimed novels by Diana Gabaldon. Shot entirely on locations in Scotland, it feature Doune Castle near Stirling among many other stunning locations.

2015 – Frankenstein – directed by Paul McGuigan, the film features award-winning cast, including James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliff in the lead roles. Parts of the film were shot in and around the dramatically set Dunnottar Castle, near Stonehaven, in Aberdeenshire.

2015 – Macbeth – a new movie adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth, directed by Justin Kurzel with Michael Fassbender in the lead role, filmed on locations on Isle of Skye in the Highlands.

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