Synopsis: A reconstruction of the Battle of Culloden, the last battle to take place on British soil, as if modern TV cameras were present.
69 min

Wednesday, April 16th 1746.

This is the advance battalion

of an English Government army

of 9,000 men.

Their objective:
Culloden Moor,

four and a half miles southeast

of the Highland town of Inverness.

Their purpose:
the destruction of the

Highland Jacobite army of rebellion,

a tired, ill-administered force

of less than 5,000 men

who wait just beyond

the top of this ridge.

Sir Thomas Sheridan,

Jacobite military secretary.

Suffering advanced debility

and loss of memory.

Former military engagement

56 years ago.

Sir John MacDonald,

Jacobite captain of cavalry.

Aged, frequently intoxicated,

"described as " a man

of the most limited capacities.

John William O'Sullivan,

Jacobite quartermaster general.

"Described as " an Irishman

whose vanity is superseded

only by his lack of wisdom."

Prince Charles Edward Stuart,

Jacobite commander in chief.

Former military experience:

10 days at a siege at the age of 13.

You must understand, without

putting too fine a point on it,

that the army here is

in a total shambles.

I've got half my company missing.

I just can't find them.

They've gone off somewhere to sleep.

Your Royal Highness,

why exactly are Mr Sheridan,

Sir John MacDonald and Mr O'Sullivan

handling the administration

of your army?

Because I chose them.

I consider those gentlemen to be

utterly trustworthy and competent.

The first thing my men will find

when they do awake

is the enemy on them,

cutting their throats.

James MacDonald, taxman.

Senior officer

in a ruthless clan system,

who's brought with him

on to the moor

men whose land he controls.

Alistair McVurrich,

subtenant of a taxman.

Owns one eighth of an acre

of soggy ground and two cows.

Alan MacColl,

subtenant of a subtenant.

Owns half-share in a small

potato patch measuring 30 feet.

Angus MacDonald,

servant of a subtenant.

He owns nothing.

Lowest in the clan structure,

he is called a cotter.

This man is totally dependent on

the men above him in the clan system.

They, in their tum, on the taxman.

They, in their tum, on this one man,

the man who has brought them all

onto the moor.

Alexander MacDonald,

called, in Gaelic, MacDhomhnuill,

chief of the MacDonald's of Keppoch.

The owner of all his tenants' land,

the rem he has charged them

is to fight with him as clan warriors

whenever he decrees.

This is the system

of the Highland clan: human rent.

I hold my land from MacCruachan,

as my father did,

by bringing him 20 fighting men

from amongst my tenants.

These I have brought.

To this man, who is rent,

today's battle is a matter of honour.

I fight today because it is an honour

to be with my chief, MacDhomhnuill,

and because my father

fought beside his father.

To this man, who is rem,

the battle is a matter of revenge.

I fight first for MacDhomhnuill,

then for Charlie.

Then because the Campbells,

who did steal my cows,

are with the enemy.

I have also raised

over 100 men from Rannoch.

Some were unwilling.

With these, I used force.

Alistair McVurrich, told by

his taxman that if he did not fight

he would have his cattle taken

and his roof burnt.

This is the system of the clan,

a system that has brought

on to the moor over 4,000 men,

men from Argyll and Inverness,

from Moidart, Appin and the isles,

Catholics, Episcopalians,


the MacDonalds, the MacLeans,

the Chisholms, the Camerons,

the Farquharsons, the Frasers,

men of 14 major Highland clans.

Men like this.

Donald Cameron of Loch Eil,

chief of the powerful clan Cameron,

fearing for the survival of

the ancient and ruthless society

to which he belongs.

Because he is here on the moor,

most of the other chiefs are here.

Because he is here, Keppoch is here.

Because I feel that

the Act of Union with England

is a betrayal.

Because Prince Charles is a Catholic

and I am a Catholic.

And the king in London

is a Protestant.

Because Charles is part Scot

and I am a Scot.

And the king in London is a German.

Prince Charles Edward Stuart,

the centre of all these men's hopes,

himself half-Polish.

Age 25 and four months,

son of the exiled

James the Pretender,

he landed in Scotland

nine months ago,

raised the clan army

on a Highland surge of nationalism,

marched to Derby and came within an ace

of toppling the Hanoverian dynasty

and regaining the throne

for his father.

Though since forced

to retreat back into the Highlands

and despite

all evidence to the contrary,

Charles remains supremely confident

both of victory and

his welcome by the English people.

King George ll is both

a usurper and a tyrant.

He's kept my father's crown

by enslaving all the people

of this island.

He's deemed unpopular

and I know that once victory is mine

the people of England

will welcome me.

Lord George Murray, age 51.

Lieutenant General in the clan army.

As their commanding officer,

this man forged

the undisciplined Highlanders

into an army that not only

almost reached London

but that also twice reduced

superior English forces

into a panic-stricken rout,

first at Prestonpans,

then at Falkirk.

Blunt, imperious, this man has

bitterly quarreled with Charles

over the chaos

in the army administration

and over the choice

of this battlefield,

chosen by John William O'Sullivan.

Flat, treeless, devoid of shelter,

ideal for the employment

by the British army

of its cannon and cavalry.

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Peter Watkins

Peter Watkins (born 29 October 1935) is an English film and television director. He was born in Norbiton, Surrey, lived in Sweden, Canada and Lithuania for many years, and now lives in France. He is one of the pioneers of docudrama. His films present pacifist and radical ideas in a nontraditional style. He mainly concentrates his works and ideas around the mass media and our relation/participation to a movie or television documentary. Nearly all of Watkins' films have used a combination of dramatic and documentary elements to dissect historical occurrences or possible near future events. The first of these, Culloden, portrayed the Jacobite uprising of 1745 in a documentary style, as if television reporters were interviewing the participants and accompanying them into battle; a similar device was used in his biographical film Edvard Munch. La Commune reenacts the Paris Commune days using a large cast of French non-actors. In 2004 he also wrote the book Media Crisis, which also discusses the monoform and the lack of debate around the construction of new forms of audiovisual media. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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