As it happened, Putnam and Forsyth had their eye on Lancaster to star in the film. “The first thing Bill said to me when he gave me the script was, ‘I want Burt Lancaster to play Happer,'” says Putnam. Although securing Lancaster was critical to the film’s international appeal, it proved difficult as the star’s remuneration took up half of the film’s budget. It took a year of negotiations to get him on board.
Although stars such as Michael Douglas and Henry Winkler were considered for the role of Mack, Forsyth decided to cast Peter Riggert as the oilman who experiences awakening and succumbs to the charms of the rugged Scottish landscapes. For Oldson’s lead part, as the local guide who escorts Mack around the Furness, Forsyth chose Peter Capaldi, a then-newbie Scottish actor fresh out of art school with no credits to his name.
Another integral part of the film is the score by Scottish-born Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, who Putnam suggested to Forsyth. Although it is considered to be an important element of the underlying images of the Scottish coastline and the Northern Lights, it has never been.
“I heard his (Dire Straits) album Making Movies. So, I wrote to him and I got a letter from his manager saying, ‘Oh, that’s really cool’. I met Mark and Bill, and Bill didn’t like Mark’s music, so it was very interesting. “It was a tense meeting. But Bill liked a track called Telegraph Road. So I was able to have a meeting about Telegraph Road, the only track we talked about. In the end, they came through. They were able to work together like each other,” says Putnam.
Ahead of its time
Released to immediate acclaim, the film was a huge success in the UK and the US, being honored by New York’s National Board of Review as one of the top 10 films of the year and launching the future Doctor’s career. Who is star and multi-BAFTA winner Peter Capaldi? Forsyth – who won acclaim for the 1981 sleeper hit Gregory’s Girl – won a BAFTA for best director.
Local Hero remains the greatest film to come out of Scotland, and perhaps its most lasting legacy lies in its preoccupation with the environment. Fully aware that going ahead with the oil plant would cause irreversible damage to their village, the locals of Furness willingly agree to sell their land rather than oppose the corporation – bar one holdout, a puppy.
Before it echoes the case of the Scottish farmer who refused to sell his land when Trump built his golf course, Forsyth’s film urged audiences to think about how easy it is to protect and fight for the environment. can be destroyed.
In residents’ willingness to sell their land, Forsyth asked viewers to consider the irreversible effects of environmental degradation. Looking back on Scottish cinema 40 years later, Putnam says he believes it was prescient and his favorite of the films he made: “It was definitely 20 years ahead of its time.”
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