THE SCOTSMAN: Review - "worth shouting about"

15th August 2007



SEACHD: The Inaccessible Pinnacle is worth shouting about, not least because it is reflective of something important happening on the artistic and cultural fringes of this country. Directed by first-timer Simon Miller, it's the first Gaelic language feature film to secure cinematic distribution and is thus part of an increasingly visible artistic movement to keep the language and its attendant traditions alive. It's also part of a more global cinematic movement in which works such as Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner and Ten Canoes have established an audience for films from marginalised, minority cultures told in their own language. Like both those examples Seachd is a film about the importance of storytelling and the oral tradition in understanding the past and the present. Set in Skye, it revolves around Aonghas (Coll Domhnallach), a young man on a quest to uncover the truth about his parents' death, both of whom died years earlier while trying to scale the titular Munro mountain peak. Aonghas thinks his estranged, dying grandfather (Aonghas Padruig Caimbeul) holds the answers he's looking for, mainly because when he was a child his grandfather regaled him and his sister with so many tall tales he has come to believe he may also have kept details about his parents' fate from him, especially those concerning a mysterious man from Glasgow.

The film takes place mainly in flashback. Scenes of the young Aonghas (nicely played by Padruig Moireasdan) struggling to cope with his parents' death are intercut with fantasy segments inspired by his grandfather's stories (the true meaning of which, naturally, come into clearer focus by the film's end). Running the gamut from medieval fairytales about crimson snowdrops to stories about magicians during the Highland Clearances, the film manages to bring these vividly to life despite what I can only assume was a tiny budget. There's plenty of humour too, and the performances are natural and warm, ensuring that unlike its central motif, Seachd is very accessible indeed.

• Cameo, tomorrow, 7.30pm and 19 August, 3.15pm.

By Alistair Harkness