by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Outlaw King, a film about Robert the Bruce, was released on Netflix and in selected cinemas on Friday. Naturally, it’s gathered a lot of attention among the Yes community. While those who know about the actual history have, as usual, complained about the historical flaws, it must be said that these are relatively minor with the exception of having Edward II present at the final battle. While this grated a bit, we must remember that this is a film made to entertain, not a historical documentary, and the narrative of such films requires a final showdown. So, while I knew this part of the story was inaccurate, I can live with it.

The film was pretty good overall, and certainly more authentic to the period than Braveheart, although whether it will capture the public imagination in the way that Braveheart did remains to be seen.

The story was well told, showing how the character of Bruce developed. Yes, it was told from a very pro-Bruce perspective, but every film needs a hero, so that is to be expected.

But the real surprise about this film is that it shows just how little most Scots know of Scottish history. How many of us had heard of the Battle of Loudon Hill? We know the legend of the spider, but for most Scots that legend and the Battle of Bannockburn are pretty much all they know of Bruce. This highlights how, while we all learn about the Battle of Hastings and the Tudors, Scottish history is largely overlooked in the school curriculum. There is now some stuff on Wallace and Bruce, and Mary, Queen of Scots, usually gets a mention but, for far too many young Scots, that’s about it.

Let’s hope this situation changes. For the moment, I am going to follow the learning path I have always followed. Having seen the film, I am now going to read a couple of books on the genuine history of Robert the Bruce. I hope others will do the same because, instead of complaining that films are not historically accurate, we should applaud the film-makers for raising awareness and inspiring us to learn more.