The 25 Best Movies About Scotland That You Need to Watch

Movies About Scotland

Watching movies about Scotland makes me want to travel there even more. Maybe that’s because I have never felt such a strong connection to a place as I have with Scotland. Half of my family heritage is Scottish and I grew up hearing a Scottish accent through my grandparents. When I visited Scotland, I felt an immediate sense of belonging. In fact, once I returned from Scotland in April 2019, I knew that I had to go back as soon as possible.

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Movies About Scotland: The Top 25

I had two trips planned to Scotland for 2020: one in April and one in June. Unfortunately, both are scrapped because we’re all staying home right now. Hopefully, once we’re able to travel again, I can revisit those trip plans and make my way back to dreamy Scotland. In the meantime, I’m getting my Scottish fix through movies set in Scotland. As it turns out, there are so many movies about Scotland that I could easily make a part two or three to this list. I’ve capped this one at 25 for now. How many have you seen? Without further ado, here are the 25 best movies about Scotland that you’ve gotta see.

Brave (2012)

Brave (2012) - Movies about Scotland
Photo Credit: Disney/Pixar

Yes, Brave is an animated Pixar movie, but it’s set in a fictitious medieval Scotland. Princess Merida is not your typical princess, as she prefers archery and horseback riding to customary royal duties. She defies her mother, Queen Elinor, bringing chaos to the kingdom and strives to set everything right. Pixar’s animators adored the natural attractions of Scotland, and their trips to Scotland undoubtedly led to the movie’s dramatic and stunning landscapes.

Places That Inspired the Movie: The Highland Games of the Braemar Gathering, Glen Affric, Calanais Standing Stones, Dunnottar Castle

Braveheart (1995)

Braveheart (1995) - Films set in Scotland

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Braveheart is a beloved movie for many, but hated by many Scots. It’s filled with historical inaccuracies and it’s mostly a work of complete fiction. However, it’s an international blockbuster film that put Scotland on the map for many.

After the movie’s release, a statue of Mel Gibson was erected outside of the Wallace Monument in Stirling, Scotland. My family is from Stirling, and I heard about it from my granny. In fact, even nowadays, every time the Wallace Monument comes up in conversation, my granny brings up this darn statue and how much everyone despises it. As it turns out, the statue was constantly vandalized, and it was eventually put into storage in 2008.

Anyway, love it or hate it, Braveheart did bring some elements of Scottish history to the forefront worldwide. It’s entertaining and action packed, and I just had to include it on this list of movies about Scotland. Braveheart is available to stream on Netflix.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Wallace Monument, Stirling Bridge, Glen Nevis

Brigadoon (1954)

Brigadoon (1954) - Movies about Scotland

Two Americans embark on a hunting trip in Scotland and discover a quaint village called Brigadoon. Little do they know that it’s a magical village that only appears for a day once every one hundred years. One of the lead characters, Tommy Albright, falls in love with a woman from the village named Fiona. If any villagers leave, it will disappear from existence forever. If an outsider loves someone in the village, they must leave everything from the outside world behind. As it was too expensive at the time to shoot the movie in Scotland, they built elaborate studio sets to replicate the Scottish Highlands.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Scottish Highlands

Comfort and Joy (1984)

Comfort and Joy (1984)

Comfort and Joy is a comedy starring Bill Paterson as a DJ who witnesses a strange attack on an ice cream truck. He’s drawn into an intense rivalry and turf war between two Italian families who are ice cream truck vendors in Glasgow. Naturally, hilarious hijinks and misadventures follow.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glasgow

Edie (2017)

Edie (2017) - Movies about Scotland

Edie, an 83 year old woman, recently lost her husband, George. Her relationship with her daughter is also taking a turn for the worse. As her daughter plans to move her mother to a retirement home, Edie decides to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. During her marriage, Edie’s father planned a hiking trip to the Scottish Highlands that she didn’t end up taking. George made her stay home. Now, Edie packs up her camping gear and intends to hike Mount Suilven on her own. It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Suilven, village of Lochinver

Geordie (1955)

Geordie (1955) - Movies about Scotland

“Wee” Geordie is a small Scottish boy who applies for a mail-order bodybuilding course. Through intense training, he manages to gain both strength and height by age 21. He decides to take up the sport of hammer throwing and goes on to represent Britain in the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. There’s also a love story woven into the film between Geordie and his longtime friend, Jean.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs

Gregory’s Girl (1980)

Gregory's Girl (1980)

Directed by Bill Forsyth, Gregory’s Girl is a romantic comedy that takes place in a secondary school. Gregory is an awkward teenager who plays on the school football team that also happens to be doing quite poorly. While scouting new players, Dorothy tries out and happens to be a fantastic player (even though the coach is sexist about letting her join). Gregory develops a crush on Dorothy and must compete with many other boys at school for her attention.

Places That Inspired the Movie: North Lanarkshire

Highlander (1986)

Highlander (1986) - Films set in Scotland

Highlander is an action-adventure fantasy starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery. It weaves the present day with a story line from 16th century Scotland. The Highlander (Connery) is an immortal warrior who lives on for many centuries, settling in New York City in the present. He can only be killed through decapitation. His enemy who wants to kill him stands to become the last living warrior, gaining power over the entire human race. The film wasn’t popular during its initial theatrical release. But, it gained a cult following that led to sequels and television spin-offs. Highlander is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Eilean Donan Castle, Glen Nevis, Glencoe, Loch Shiel, Torridon and Isle of Skye

Just Another Saturday (1975)

Just Another Saturday (1975)

Just Another Saturday, starring Billy Connolly, originally aired on the BBC as a “Play for Today” (a series of TV dramas, featuring original television plays). It’s all about the Orange walks organized by the Orange Order, a protestant fraternal order out of Northern Ireland. In the film, the main character initially looks forward to the annual Orange walk in Glasgow, but begins to grow disillusioned as the day arrives. It’s available to watch in its entirety on YouTube.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glasgow

Local Hero (1983)

Local Hero (1983)

Local Hero takes place in a fictitious town called Ferness on the west coast of Scotland (actually filmed in Pennan in Aberdeenshire). A wealthy American oil company executive sends an employee to Scotland in order to buy the town on behalf of the company. As keen as the locals seem at first, things don’t always go as planned. It’s a chance to witness old world Scottish charm and the beautiful scenery of a seaside village all at once.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Pennan (Aberdeenshire coast), Morar, Arisaig

Loch Ness (1996)

Loch Ness - Movies About Scotland

Why not watch the movie, Loch Ness, before searching for Nessie yourself? This is a family drama film starring Ted Danson and Joely Richardson. Danson’s character, Dr. Dempsey, travels to Scotland with the goal of disproving the existence of the Loch Ness Monster. Fun fact: screenwriter John Fusco penned this screenplay at age 23 as a tribute to his Scottish grandmother, Isabel Moffat. In the movie, Fusco named a young character, “Isabel”, who lives at the Moffat Arms Inn.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Loch Ness

Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Mary Queen of Scots (2018)
Photo Credit: Liam Daniel / Universal Pictures

When developing this list of the best movies about Scotland, I had to include the fascinating historical film, Mary Queen of Scots. It’s a historical drama examining the life of Mary Stuart and the conflicts between two rivals, Mary Queen of Scots and her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I. It also establishes the tense clashes between Scotland and England. This film is based on John Guy’s biography, Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart. It is available for streaming on HBO.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Blackness Castle, Glencoe, the Poldullie Bridge in Strathdon, Seacliff Beach

Neds (2010)

Neds (2010) - Movies about Scotland

Neds stands for “non educated delinquents”. The film is a coming-of-age drama focused on a teenage boy growing up in 1970s Glasgow. Despite the fact that the lead character, John McGill, is a brilliant student, he’s surrounded by street gangs and an abusive family life. It delves into the challenges facing teenagers raised in a rough environment and its effects on an emotionally destitute child. Neds is one of the movies about Scotland that provides a glimpse into 70s youth culture in Glasgow. It is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glasgow

Outlaw King (2018)

Outlaw King (2018)
Photo Credit: Netflix / David Eustace

Outlaw King is a Netflix original film about Robert the Bruce, the Scottish King who led a rebellion against the English from 1304 to 1307. The English Empire declares Bruce an “outlaw” because he led an army of Scottish warriors in a war against the English. This historical action drama follows Bruce through the Scottish countryside up until the epic Battle of Loudoun Hill. You’ll only find Outlaw King to stream on Netflix.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Craigmillar Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Blackness Castle, Dunfermline Abbey, Glencoe, Isle of Skye, Glasgow University

Restless Natives (1985)

Restless Natives (1985)
Photo Credit: EMI Films

Restless Natives is one of the top adventure comedy movies about Scotland, featuring the story of two friends who commit non-violent robberies together. One wears the mask of a clown and the other dons the mask of a wolfman, and they rob coach busloads of tourists in the Highlands. During a time of high unemployment in Edinburgh, they become modern day Robin Hoods by giving money to the poor while facing pursuit by the police.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Edinburgh, Glasgow, Linlithgow, the Highlands

Rob Roy (1995)

Rob Roy - Movies about Scotland
Photo Credit: MGM Studios Inc

Released in the same year as Braveheart, Rob Roy is a Scottish historic film about the 18th century Scottish chief of Clan MacGregor. Rob Roy, played by Liam Neeson, becomes an outlaw after he is falsely charged with theft by a nobleman. Although not entirely historically accurate, it’s one of the best films about Scotland set entirely in Scotland. Many areas in the Scottish Highlands were only accessible by helicopter, and the cast and crew had to battle rainstorms and swarms of midges while filming.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glencoe, Glen Nevis, Glen Tarbert

Shallow Grave (1994)

Shallow Grave (1994)
Photo Credit: Channel Four Films

Shallow Grave is a dark comedy crime film set in Edinburgh. As three friends choose a new flatmate, they barely get to know him before they find him dead in his room. Furthermore, they find his large suitcase full of cash. After concealing his death and keeping the money for themselves, the friends have a series of dilemmas. Two criminals search for the money as the three friends start to turn on one another. Shallow Grave is available to stream on Starz.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Edinburgh

Skyfall (2012)

Skyfall (2012)

While there are several stunning destinations in Skyfall, my favorite filming location has to be Scotland (maybe I’m biased!). Of course, Skyfall is the 23rd movie in the James Bond franchise. Featuring Daniel Craig as 007, James Bond returns to his roots in the Scottish Highlands at the Bond family estate. The plot centers around Bond investigating an attack on MI6 and his attempt to seek and destroy the threat.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glencoe and Glen Etive

Stone of Destiny (2008)

Stone of Destiny (2008) - Movies about Scotland

Stone of Destiny is another one of the top historical movies about Scotland, where the film is based on real events from the 1950s. It follows the story of Ian Hamilton, a Scottish nationalist, who successfully steals back the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey. The Stone of Scone was stolen from Scotland by King Edward I in 1296. This adventure/comedy details the story of four Glaswegian youth who outwit the Brits to take back this symbol of Scottish pride. It’s available to stream on Amazon Prime.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glenfinnan Viaduct, Paisley, Glasgow

Sunshine on Leith (2013)

Sunshine on Leith (2013)
Photo Credit: Entertainment Film Distributors

Sunshine on Leith is a romantic musical movie, adapted from a stage musical, featuring songs by The Proclaimers. The cast of the movie performs the songs themselves. There’s also a short cameo appearance by The Proclaimers themselves. The film tells the story of two soldiers who return to Edinburgh after being at war in Afghanistan. They have to figure out how to return to daily regular life and routines in Scotland outside of the army. The film follows their struggles with relationships, their families, and employment.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Edinburgh

Sweet Sixteen (2002)

Sweet Sixteen (2002)

Sweet Sixteen tells the story of a struggling teenage boy from Glasgow. After his mother’s release from prison, he’s determined to start fresh with her. He strives to rescue himself and his mother from troubled relationships with her boyfriend and father (the boy’s grandfather). The boy tries to raise funds so they can have their own home. His misadventures and money making schemes lead to more trouble than he originally intended.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glasgow

Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting (1996)

Trainspotting is quite possibly one of the most iconic movies about Scotland and Edinburgh. It’s a drama/comedy that explores the drug culture of Edinburgh, one man’s attempts to kick his heroin addiction, and his relationships with his friends. While some perceive the film as glamorizing drug use, it also paints the picture of urban poverty, decay, and the destruction of lives.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Edinburgh

Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin (2013)
Photo Credit: StudioCanal

Under the Skin, starring Scarlett Johansson, is a science fiction movie set in Scotland. Johansson is an alien possessing the form of a woman. She seduces her male victims into a void where they are obliterated. However, over time, Johansson’s character starts to identify with humans and begins to discover her true self.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Glasgow

Whisky Galore (1949)

Whisky Galore (1949)

Whisky Galore is a comedy film based on the real life events, set on a fictitious Scottish island. Through wartime rationing, the residents of the island have run out of whisky. However, a nearby shipwreck contains 50,000 cases of whisky. The islanders attempt to ransack the shipwreck without the knowledge of the local customs officials.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Outer Hebrides

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man (1973)

The Wicker Man is a horror film, and I suggest that you watch the original version and not the newer, Nicholas Cage movie! It takes place in a small, Scottish village. A police sergeant goes to the village in search of a missing girl. The villagers deny the existence of the girl. At the same time, the officer (a religious Christian man) is troubled by the pagan traditions of the residents.

Places That Inspired the Movie: Gatehouse of Fleet, Newton Stewart, Kirkcudbright, Creetown

More Movies From Around the World

Interested to view more movies featuring countries and cultures from around the world? Please take a look at the following movie guides:

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How many of these movies about Scotland have you watched? Were you inspire to travel to Scotland after seeing any of them?

2 Responses

  1. Emily
    |

    Outlander is a must for a Scotland trip!!!

    • Lauren
      |

      Oh definitely! If I do a round-up of TV shows in the future, it will be at the top of my list. Love it!