Eden Court in Inverness will host a special 35th-anniversary screening of Highlander which will be introduced by a man who spent years trying to find out everything he could about the film starring Sean Connery.
Not very well-received by critics when it was first released in 1986, Highlander has become a cult classic much-loved by people all over the world.
One of those who fell in love with the film about an immortal Scottish swordsman was Jonathan Melville who became so invested in the film, he wanted to find out more about its characters, stunts and how it was filmed.
“I first saw the film in 1994 when I was a student in Edinburgh and I’ve been a fan ever since,” said Jonathan.
“Of course, then, in the 90s, Internet didn’t really exist that much and you couldn’t find out as much about films as you can now.
‘If nobody will do it, I will’
“For a long time, I’ve been wanting to find out more about the filming and I’ve just been waiting for someone to write a book about it and they never did. So I thought the only way to find out was to do it myself.”
And after securing interviews with star Christopher Lambert, the director Russell Mulcahy, Clancy Brown – who played the villainous Kurgan – and Roger Taylor and Brian May of Queen, who wrote the soundtrack, Jonathan published the definitive book on the making Highlander, A Kind Of Magic, in September 2020.
The author will introduce two Eden Court screenings of the film on August 7 – at 2pm and 7pm – and reveal some surprising facts and share funny anecdotes told by one of the 60 cast and crew he interviewed about the film.
Introducing Highlander and publicly launching book
He said: “I never had the chance to launch the book publicly because of coronavirus. This will be the first time I’ll be able to speak about the film publicly, introduce the film, point out things people didn’t notice in the film before and sign books afterward.”
One of the first things that surprised Jonathan about the film when he started doing research was that while a lot of the scenes were set in New York, many of them were filmed in London.
“I’ll reveal some other surprises about where things were filmed,” said Jonathan.
“For example, at the start of the film, there’s a strange fight scene in a car park and the baddie does a backflip.
“Ever since I first saw it, people wondered why he did that and who he was – I managed to track him down. He was brought it for a day to film the backflips – he’s not mentioned in the titles and he hasn’t really mentioned to anyone that he was in it.”
Eden Court’s marketing manager Neil Hepburn said: “Any excuse to screen Highlander would do, but this is a particularly good one.
“Jonathan Melville should be any film fan’s dream dinner guest, approaching cinema with endless curiosity, deep respect but always with a sense of fun and shared enjoyment.
“His outstanding books on Tremors and Highlander take deep dives into these enduring cult classics, illuminating for die-hard fans, yet accessible and welcoming to newcomers.”
Highlander became cult classic
Jonathan thinks Highlander became a cult classic because it’s “full of great things”.
“It’s funny, it’s got drama, fantasy and it’s got Sean Connery and Scotland is a huge part of it,” said Jonathan.
“Being Scottish, I think we latch on to films that are based or shot here. There are a lot of different reasons why I love the film.”
After interviewing Clancy Brown (The Kurgan) who came to the Edinburgh Film Festival to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Highlander, Jonathan managed to speak to other cast members – including Christopher Lambert (Connor MacLeod) and Roxanne Hart (Brenda Wyatt).
He added: “I also spoke to some of the stand-ins who had great stories of Sean Connery acting in the Highlands. I interviewed people doing make-up and visual effects too.
Securing interview with Brian May and Roger Taylor of Queen
“I managed to speak to Brian May and Roger Taylor because of the pandemic. I’ve been trying to speak to them for years, but they were always on tour. I noticed they were in London during lockdown, so I got in touch with them and they said yes.
“While the Highlander was being filmed in New York, Queen was playing Live Aid. At that point, they weren’t chosen to do the music for the film.
“One of the stuntmen talked to me about putting on TV after going back to his hotel after filming in New York and Live Aid was on.
“I really enjoyed learning what was happening at different locations.”