Local Hero

Bill Forsyth (1983)



Bill Forsyth is perhaps the quintessential British maverick film director – self taught, never courted fame and fortune, made a handful of films, two of them enduring classics – and then just pretty much walked away.

As a teenager he answered an ad in a local paper requiring a “lad” to work for a one man company making public information films. Bitten by the film bug, he went on to set up his own small production company and wrote a sweet, funny script about a gangly boy in love with the cool girl on the school football team.

Gregory’s Girl” was turned down for funding by the BFI (some of us can relate to that) as the script was “too commercial” but by this time Forsyth had developed a rapport with some of the kids from a Scottish youth theatre – together they went on to make “That Sinking Feeling with a few hundred quid, and suddenly people began to take notice of him.

In the end Gregory’s Girl quadrupled its initial costs and became so successful that it was one of few independent British films to be released in America – with subtitles in case no-one could understand the accents!


Local Hero” was Forsyth’s step towards bigger budgets and the inevitable call of Hollywood. He even has American actors and a real movie star with Burt Lancaster. The film perhaps encapsulates Forsyth’s own mixed feelings about his increasing success -the tug of war between past and present, the lure of technology and the traditional life, Scotland versus the world.

Local Hero is famously one of critic Mark Kermode’s all-time favourite films and is one of those relatively small pictures that attract a huge following.  We enjoyed the warm and tender film in the darkest part of the year as our Christmas get together. If this film fails to move you then you need to check you have a pulse. Bill Forsyth at his absolute best.