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Saturday, 5th September 2009 (First broadcast on BBC1 on 15th December 1964)
10:30pm to 11:40pm
The film uses a pseudo-documentary style, recreating the events of the Battle of Culloden with historical accuracy but presenting the action as if the filmmakers are contemporaries of 1746. They use a fly-on-the-wall approach to filming and conduct fictional vox pop interviews with the protagonists from both sides. In using this approach the director, Peter Watkins, practically invents the genre of the drama documentary which is so in evidence right up to the present day.
As the film opens it is clear that the Clan army under Bonnie Prince Charlie are emphatically the underdogs. They suffer from hunger, fatigue and depleted numbers. Moreover, they have an inadequate battle strategy, the Prince favouring the advice of vain Irishman John O'Sullivan over Lord George Murray, their most effective General. The depiction of the battle scenes are graphic and capture the devastation among the Clan army, illustrating the incompetence of their leadership. Among its many statistics, the film states that within one hour and eight minutes, the Scottish Pretender lost approximately 1200 men to the English's 50.
The remainder of the film shows the English army conducting a vicious program of ethnic cleansing in the Highlands with the aid of the Scottish lowland army. It also describes how the clans were abandoned by their Prince. He sought exile in Europe, taking the remaider of the Jacobite funds and dismissing his army. The filmmakers decribe the consequences of the defeat, stating that the centuries to follow witnessed the pacification of the Highlands. The English government penalised clan culture and introduced sheep to the area, eventually displacing the people to Canada and Australia. They conclude by saying that the English 'created a desert and called it peace'.
I would advise watching this as a part of a triumvirate broadcast that night on BBC4: it's companion piece from 1996 about the making of Culloden (http://thebox.bz/details.php?id=90257) and from 2006 The Battle That Made Britain (http://thebox.bz/details.php?id=90290) about the impact of Culloden on the development of Britain in the 18th Century and on up to the present day.
=== Video Information ===
Video Codec Name: XviD
Video Bitrate: 1066 kb/s
Bits / Pixel: 0.171 bits/pixel
Resolution: 576x432 (1.33:1) [=4:3]
=== Audio Information ===
Audio Codec: 0x0055(MP3) ID'd as MPEG-1 Layer 3
Audio Bitrate: 137 kb/s (68/ch, stereo) VBR LAME3.90
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