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Chasing the Deer is a very fine film - for those acquainted with the
historical background of the Scottish civil war in 1745-46, the last
attempt to restore the old Stewart royal line in place of the new
Hanoverian dynasty, whom the Jacobites regarded as usurpers. Every
nuance of the film is historically correct - unlike Braveheart, which
is a first-class film but a historical disaster. I can understand the
incomprehension of viewers - probably most viewers - who know nothing
of Scottish history in the mid-18th century and are therefore unable to
appreciate Chasing the Deer's first-rate qualities. The characters of
the two main protagonists, Prince Charles Edward and the Duke of
Cumberland (both 25 and second cousins) are very accurately portrayed.
The film brings out the wide divisions in Scottish (and especially
Highland) society between those loyal to the old royal line and those
who have already come to terms with the new. Charles Edward won his
battles against the government forces at Prestonpans and Falkirk, but
the final one at Culloden (the last land battle fought on Scottish
soil) ended in disaster for the Jacobite cause and marked a watershed
in the history of modern Scotland. Nothing was ever the same again.
This film sweeps away all the romantic glamour that has surrounded the
name of Charles Edward Stewart. It demolishes the legend that Culloden
was a Scottish-English conflict; members of one and the same family
could be found fighting on both sides at the battle at Culloden. Of the
major historical films about Scotland, Rob Roy probably comes closest
to historical accuracy, albeit with Hollywood icing. One could quibble
about details of film technique in Chasing the Deer, but for me it
remains the best-ever portrayal of a major watershed in Scottish
history and the personal motivations of those caught up in the
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