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A film to challenge sentimental history

The Road Dance is a many layered understanding of rural community, and a realistic rewrite of Scots identity, writes Lola Bhlaire
Issue 2806
Kirsty in the film The Road Dance

Is The Road Dance – standard costume drama fare, or something deeper?

The Road Dance explores the often unrecorded history of women’s struggle and community conflict in rural Scotland. Images of the lush and desolate highland landscape contrast with a tragic drama and the brutality of a dark secret to create an evocative story.

The script plays to the viewers expectations. The story of Kirsty, village sweetheart and her betrothed Murdo, opens the film. It feels like simply another period romance flick, only to take a harrowing and complicated turn.

The Road Dance addresses what is so often left out of our idyllic fantasies about historical country life. It reveals the cruel silence that many women were forced into for fear of rejection or persecution, and why so many decided to leave the crofts for the promise of the new world.

Against the backdrop of the First Word War, and the impact of accelerated progress on isolated life, this is a realistic rewrite of nostalgic, shortbread tin Scots identity. But it is also a many layered understanding of the kind of tight knit community that has been lost. 

Despite the gentle sentimentality, the film has an outdated air, as well as stilted emotionality that sometimes pulls the film towards melodrama. But, for all that, The Road Dance offers a critical and touching story of pastoral life that rewrites our expectations.

  • The Road Dance is in cinemas now


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