Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle

Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle

****

Reviewed by: Chris

The Scots excel at storytelling. The traditional sort. Many years after the event, I can still see in my mind's eye an elderly lady, my friend's mother, retelling the Battle of Culloden. She made the characters come alive. Her passion was that of an eye-witness. One to the events on the sodden heath a mile or so from where she lived.

Of course, it happened many years before she was born, but you wouldn't have guessed that from the way she told it. The same story is told in bars the length and breadth of Scotland. As I discussed it with a friend one night in Mallaig, a local cut in to give his version. The discussion continued until closing time.

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Stories passed down like this become part of our being. Who doesn't remember the stories our parents told us when we were children? They become our invisible world. And, as we grow older, they maybe still serve as inspiration or as an emotional reservoir. Fact and fiction blend with aspiration, role models. Warning stories. Archetypes. Magic and mystery.

"My name is Aonghas, like my grandfather and his grandfather before him," our protagonist introduces himself. And also introduces the story that stretches back through generations. It produces stories within stories. Stories that evoke the impenetrable wonder of Scotland, its rugged mountains shrouded in mists. The stuff of legend. Yet Seach'd is rooted in reality. This is what gives it its special charm. It has a rough beauty and authenticity, tempered with some of the finest Gaelic singing you will ever hear.

Aonghas (Angus) visits his grandfather in hospital shortly before his death. He burns with frustration. Part of him yearns to be in the twenty-first century, to hang out in Glasgow. But he was raised on the Western shores among a Gaelic-speaking community.

Yet there is a deeper conflict within him. He yearns to know the truth. The truth behind his grandfather's ancient stories. Where does fiction end? And he wants to know the truth behind the death of his parents.

He is pulled to make a last fateful journey, to the summit of one of Scotland's most inaccessible mountains. Can the truth be told? Or is it all in stories?

In this story about stories, we revisit bloody battles, poisoned lovers, the folklore of old and the sometimes more treacherous folklore of accepted truth. In doing so, we each connect with Aonghas, as he lives the story of his own life.

Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle is probably the most honest, unpretentious and genuinely beautiful film about Scotland ever made. Like our hero, I got slightly annoyed with the pretext of hanging stories on more stories. But, also like Aonghas, I forgave this once I saw the 'bigger picture'. Forget the box-office pastiche of Braveheart and its ilk. You might even forego the justly famous dramatisation of The Wicker Man. As a film that is true to Scotland, this one is probably unique. If you meditate on it deeply enough, you might even re-evaluate the power of storytelling, and the age-old question of whether there are some truths that cannot be told but only experienced.

Reviewed on: 08 Oct 2007
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A young man visiting his dying grandfather finds himself once again entangled in the stories he was told as a child.
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Read more Seachd: The Inaccessible Pinnacle reviews:

Andrew Robertson ****

Director: Simon Miller

Writer: Joanne Cockwell, Iain Finlay MacLeod

Starring: Aonghas Padruig Caimbeul, Padruig Moireasdan, Crisdean Domhnallach, Winnie Brook Young, Dolina MacLennan, Coll Domhnallach, Daibhidh Walker, Vidal Sancho

Year: 2007

Runtime: 100 minutes

Country: UK

Festivals:

EIFF 2007

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