by Margaret Kearns
Bucking the Hollywood trend for flashy, starry and expensive movie openings, Hollywood director Charles Martin Smith heralded the release of his new film ‘Stone of Destiny’ by holding an exclusive private screening at the Morningside home of terminally ill resident Sir Neil MacCormick.
Professor MacCormick is the son of late ‘King John’ MacCormick, SNP founder and the mentor behind the successful repatriation of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1950. Director Charles Martin Smith, upon hearing of Sir MacCormick’s inoperable cancer, which has left him housebound, endeavoured to bring the unique screening to the venerable 67-year-old law professor; knighted in 2001 for his services to academia and legal scholarship.
Mr. Smith explained his efforts “I was terribly sorry to hear about his health problems. The students who ‘retrieved’ the stone idolised John MacCormick…It’s really only because of him that this ever happened, so I am just delighted to be able to show it to his son” Echoing those sentiments was Robert Carlyle who plays the role of John MacCormick “I took the part because I thought, “he’s a good man, who deserves to be remembered”
For these circumstances Smith was required to obtain special permission from the film company to make a DVD and guarded it carefully on his trip from America “They are very careful about making discs, with all the piracy problems. They don’t like to do it but in this case, absolutely”
In reactionary terms, the screening itself was a roaring triumph with the Professor hailing both the movie and Charles Martin Smith’s screenplay as “excellent” Speaking from his Pentland terrace home yesterday, he also extolled the faithfulness of the screenplay to the real events on which it is based and he referred to analysis on the film by the Scotsman as “highly overdone” His only personal criticism, that he felt his fathers position as a devoted family man was a disappointing exclusion from the story, although not detrimental to the production itself.
Sir Ian MacCormick also pointed to Carlyle’s portrayal of his father as “highly recognisable” and has spoken of his own memories as a nine-year-old surrounding that historical day after the break in at Westminster Abbey “My father came through and said we had better listen to the wireless news and the top story was about the Stone of Destiny. Always on Christmas Day we had the big extended family round in our house, aunts, uncles and cousins… there was great cheering.” The publication of his father’s book in 1955 entitled ‘The Flag in the Wind’ was his first realisation of his father’s involvement in the original plot.
‘Stone of Destiny’ is currently receiving a Scotland only release, with a general release scheduled for December.