Give a dog a bone: representations of Scotland in the popular genre cinema of Neil Marshall

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The best-known and most influential cinematic image of Scotland is that which constructs the country as the civilised modern world’s northern boundary and ideological antithesis. This historically venerable representational tradition incorporates Brigadoon (Vincente Minnelli, USA, 1954), Brave (Mark Andrews/Brenda Chapman/Steve Purcell, USA, 2012) and much else in between. The following essay examines what is perhaps the most explicit and extended twenty-first-century manifestation to date of Scotland’s classic celluloid stereotype: the oeuvre of British popular genre filmmaker Neil Marshall. Analysis of this director’s Scottish trilogy – Dog Soldiers (GB/Lux/USA, 2002), Doomsday (GB/USA/SA/Ger, 2008), and Centurion (GB/Fr, 2010) – suggests not simply the historical persistence of a particular cultural representation of a particular national culture and identity, but also the varied, and often non-nationally specific, thematic uses to which Scottish cinematic stereotypes can be and are put. That conclusion suggests a number of possible future directions for Scottish cinema criticism more generally. Firstly, the need for a more inclusive critical engagement with popular genre cinema, a hitherto under-examined area with the study of Scotland’s relationship with the moving image. Secondly, the extent to which critics might usefully approach Scottish-set and –themed cinema in a more multifaceted manner than has frequently been the case in historical terms. Neil Marshall’s oeuvre exemplifies the complex interplay of nationally and non-nationally specific images and ideas that exist within many popular filmic representations of Scotland.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-237
Number of pages11
JournalVisual Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 4 Oct 2013


  • Neil Marshall; Scotland; Scottish cinema; British cinema; national cinema; national identity


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