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Monday, February 23, 2009

Rob Roy (1995)

Far more people would have seen the story of the Scot legend, William of Wallace (as depicted by Mel Gibson. Braveheart was a hugely successful film, detailing the efforts of an exceptional man to win the freedom of his country (Scotland) from the oppressive rule of the English royalty. Incidentally, there was a movie released just a month and a half before Braveheart, this one also dealing with the efforts of a Scottish hero who seeks to prove his honesty and bravery while facing incredible odds.
This was the movie Rob Roy, starring Liam Neeson in the title role of the Scottish Chieftain Rob Roy MacGregor, battling intrigue spun by feudal landowners, and how he manages to clear his name. The movie was nominated for a single Oscar (Best Supporting Actor) for the portrayal of the villain Archibald Cunningham (a psychopathic character) - played by Tim Roth.

Rob Roy (1995) starring Liam Neeson, Jessica Lange, John Hurt

MacGregor is a chieftain who wants to get into the business of trading Highland cattle, and hence borrows 1,000 pounds from the Marquess of Montrose (John Hurt). He entrusts the money to his sub-chieftain, but is however devastated when the Marquesses' factor (person tending to his grounds and collecting rents) Killearn (Brian Cox) and his sociopathic protégé Archibald Cunningham (Tim Roth) murder the sub-chieftain for the money. No one knows that they have done this, but the net result is that MacGregor is now in debt to the Marquess for 1,000 pounds (a sizeable amount).
When he wants to try to make a settlement with the Marquess, the Marquess agrees, but wants MacGregor to falsely testify that the Duke of Argyll (Andrew Keir) is involved with a Jacobite plot (an attempt to bring back the Catholic King James to the throne of England and evict the Protestant kings from the throne). MacGregor is not comfortable with perjuring himself and refuses. With this, hopes of clemency from the Marquess vanish and the Marquess orders Cunnigham to take MacGregor to debtors prison. MacGregor runs away, and his house and wife bear the brunt. His house is destroyed, livestock killed, and his wife Mary raped by the psychopathic Cunnigham. This is discovered by MacGregor's brother Alasdair, but he is sworn to secrecy by Mary.
MacGregor and Mary find out the truth about the stealing of the money from Betty, who is a chambermaid at the residence of Montrose, and who had been having an affair with Cunningham and who is dismissed from service when she becomes pregnant. She however kills herself before she can testify. And so goes a constant battle by MacGregor to prove the complicity of Killearn and Cunningham in the killing and theft, with constant struggles. In the end, a duel is arranged between MacGregor and Cunningham, where MacGregor is on the edge of defeat, but just when he is going to face the final blow, he counter-attacks and kills Cunningham.

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