Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Overlooked Movies: Highlander

From the dawn of time we came; moving silently down through the centuries, living many secret lives, struggling to reach the time of the Gathering; when the few who remain will battle to the last. No one has ever known we were among you... until now. -Juan Sanchez Villa-Lobos Ramirez

Born in the Highlands of Scotland in 1518, Connor Macleod is immortal. When he is wounded in battle but does not die, he is banished from his village. He meets another like himself, Ramirez, who teaches him swordsmanship--the only way to kill another immortal is to take his head--and the ways of the immortals. Modern-day New York is the location of "The Gathering," where Connor and the few remaining immortals must battle to the last for "The Prize."

Click here to watch the trailer:

-He fought his first battle on the Scottish Highlands in 1536. He will fight his greatest battle on the streets of New York City in 1986. His name is Connor MacLeod. He is immortal.
-There can be only one.
-Don't lose your head

Fun Trivia:
Mickey Rourke was considered for the role of Connor Macleod.

Christopher Lambert spent time with a dialogue coach, developing an accent which sounded non-specifically foreign. oh so that explains it. Lambert had just barely learned to speak English when he took this role. The only other English-speaking film he had been in at that point was Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes, in which he spoke only a few words.

Clancy Brown nearly turned down the role of Kurgan, concerned that his allergy to makeup would prevent him from wearing the prosthetics required late in the film.

The brandy scene with Macleod and Brenda was inspired by Russell Mulcahy's dinner with Jim Steinman who, as a wine bottle from 1949 was being opened, sniffed the air between the cork and the bottle and told Mulcahy that he just sniffed air from 1949.

Among the many ancient artifacts in MacLeod's storeroom is Ramirez's vest and hat.

The priest in the church scene was actually an orthodox rabbi.

The castle they used for the shoot is the same castle they used in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Lambert and co-star Beatie Edney who played Heather had an affair while making the film. Can you blame him? She's quite lovely!

In the scenes following Connor taking the Kurgan's head, director Russell Mulcahy had originally envisioned an animated dragon with the Kurgan's skull battle helmet emerging from the Kurgan's decapitated body and challenging Connor again. Only after Connor had defeated this Ghost-Dragon would he have received the final quickening and subsequent Prize. This idea was eventually cut due to budget restraints.

All of Sean Connery's scenes had to be filmed in a week due to Connery's schedule.

Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert got along so well during filming that they called each other by their characters' names even when they were not filming and it was at Lambert's insistence that Connery and his character returned for the sequel.

The quickening is a term for when a baby in the womb shows its first sign of life, its first noticeable movement within the womb.

Fun Quotes:
Connor MacLeod: Tell me how'd it happen for God's sake.
Ramirez: Why does the sun come up? Or are the stars just pin holes in the curtain of night, who knows? What I do know is that because you were born different, men will fear you... try to drive you away like the people of your village. You must learn to conceal your special gift and harness it until the time of the gathering.
Connor MacLeod: What gathering?
Ramirez: When only a few of us are left, we will feel an irresistible pull towards a far away land... to fight for the prize.

Connor MacLeod: I am Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod. I was born in 1518 in the village of Glenfinnan on the shores of Loch Shiel. And I am immortal.

Ramirez: If your head comes away from your neck, it's over!

Kurgan: Tonight you sleep in hell.

Connor MacLeod: I apologize for calling your wife a bloated warthog, and I bid you good day.

This is the real thing. Ignore anything Highlander that was made after this movie because it's pretty much crap.


Anonymous said...

I was going to write that Highlander was probably the worst movie to ever launch a 20 year franchise, but then Leprechaun and a host of far greater offenses came to mind.

I like the way that the movie jumps between centuries. That was pretty cool. So is Connery. So are sword fights. And Clancy Motherfuckin Brown. And I like the French Revolution vignette where drunken highlander keeps getting run through with a rapier but doesn't die.

If there "can only be one", how come we've gotten like six sequels and a TV series out of this story? Odd. Good article though, Becca!

Scurvy said...

My first thought was "Highlander is an overlooked movie?" :D

Great film! One of my favorites, but man oh man did they ever ruin a good thing by making just one sequel. Pretty much screwed the pooch from there on in.

Becca said...

Yeah Leprechaun in the Hood now that's going too far.

And I too really like the way the movie floats between time periods. I don't think they would ever do that today...people aren't smart enough to get it... That rapier scene cracks me up too.

I kind of think of this movie the same way I think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...it's a great movie that is far overshadowed by a lesser and more popular TV show.

Yeah the minute the second movie starts and they talk about how they are aliens I want to turn it off...

...of course I don't because I actually enjoy watching the second movie even though it's shit compared to the first one.

Ty said...

Highlander is a ton of fun! Lambert at his best.