Billy Connolly is solely responsible for the success of the film in my opinion, injecting a hefty dose of Big Yin right into the heart of the plot. Without that realism (I mean, the realism of his screen congruence rather then the fact he is portrayed as dying), I think I would actually quite hate the cloying nature of this film. Apparently he had prostate cancer during the filming, but didn’t mention it to the directors at the time. Incredible. I should watch/ listen more to Billy Connolly’s films and comedy routines as much of his good stuff was being done when I was a kid in the 70’s.
The other great ‘star’ of the show is the location. The nature scenes shot in Gairloch in the Scottish Highlands and Loch Lomond evoke such a primitive and forlorn sense of openness that they become a canvas into which you can project infinitely and not come back, just like Billy Connoly does on his death and Viking burial at sea. Note to self: Must Go To Gairloch!
In addition to some excellent live folk music in the film, there is ever such a brief inclusion of The Waterboys- Fisherman’s Blues from the eponymous 1988 album. Fisherman’s Blues becomes a skilfully deployed musical spear that prises open your heart chakra by a million minute degrees. I don’t know what I was doing in 1988 but whenever I hear that tune I am young again, naïve and full of life and wonder. Researching their album, I found out The Waterboys have in recent times released a 7 CD version of Fisherman’s Blues, containing 121 tracks which were recorded over a 2 year period in a variety of locations; and that the folk elements of the album marked a radical departure from their earlier work, which I must admit I am very grateful for. So looks like, in addition to listening to many hours of Billy Connolly comedy routines, I have a 7 CD 121 track journey of Irish folk- blues to work my way through. Happy New Year!