Oscar-nominated filmmaker David Mackenzie has revealed how his Highland Perthshire roots proved key to his portrayal of Robert the Bruce in the historical epic Outlaw King.
In an exclusive video released by national tourism body VisitScotland on the anniversary of the film’s release, the director remembers growing up in the area and being dropped off by his mum south of Dalwhinnie to hike home.
He returned to the same spot more than 30 years later to film Chris Pine as Robert the Bruce, King of Scots.
The video comes as Historic Environment Scotland and the National Trust for Scotland, which own historical properties that appear in Outlaw King or have links to Robert the Bruce, say the film has been a major factor in a rise in visitor numbers over the past 12 months.
Shot entirely in Scotland, the film remains the largest production to be made in the country, featuring locations and attractions such as Craigmillar Castle, Blackness Castle, Linlithgow Palace, Glen Coe, the Glasgow University and the Isle of Skye.
Mackenzie said: “It was a great responsibility to try to tell the story of one of the great Scottish national heroes, if not the great Scottish national hero, and to do him justice while making a film of integrity that tells an element of the story of his life.
“That was at the forefront of everything that we were doing all the way through.
“It was really important to us to use as many sites as possible that Robert himself had a connection with.
“Treading in these hallowed places and feeling that your feet are on the same ground that these guys were on 700 years ago is a really resonant thing for me, as a director, for the actors to get into their part and for everyone on the film set.”
Outlaw King charts the story of Robert the Bruce from defeated nobleman in 1304 to victorious King of Scots at the Battle of Loudoun Hill in 1307.
It was released globally on streaming platform Netflix to its 130 million subscribers in more than 190 countries on November 9 last year.
The VisitScotland video to celebrate the first anniversary, ‘Outlaw King: In Conversation With Director David Mackenzie’, was filmed at Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries at an exclusive screening of Outlaw King in the shadow of Dunfermline Abbey, the resting place of Robert the Bruce which doubled as Westminster in the film.
Venues like Dunfermline Abbey have been given a huge fillip by the film, borne out by the success of VisitScotland’s interactive online guide, ‘On the trail of the Outlaw King’, which highlighted 20 film locations and 24 sites linked to Robert the Bruce across the country.
New figures have revealed the map has been viewed more than 45,000 times since the film’s release, with the majority of users from Germany (40%), followed by France (31%), the UK (14%) and the USA (9%).
Loch Lomond, Dunstaffnage Castle and Claigan Coral Beach are the three most popular venues, but all of the sites featured have reported a hike in visitor numbers.
Jenni Steele, film and creative industries manager at VisitScotland, said: “It’s fantastic to see so many film fans and history lovers taking advantage of our Outlaw King map to explore Scotland and the real story and locations behind the King of Scots.”