From "The Moving Picture" by Angus Peter Campbell in "As an Fhearann:
from the land", 1986.
The other more recent film which broke new territory was "Flight
from Vatersay" which was shown on BBC 2's '40 Miunute' series. There
was no lush, false romanticism here in the film of a lonely young
man's escape from what he saw as the boredom of life on Vatersay
for the excitement of life in Glasgow.
Flight From Vatersay and its subject, Neil Gillies, laid bare
many of the pretences that have surrounded island life, and in
particular, island exile. During the past one hundred years many
youngsters have taken the path of Neil Gillies and escaped island
and close family strictures to seek sexual and other freedoms
elsewhere only to find that the new world was like the old, full of
restrictions, failure and disappointment.
Flight From Vatersay was about disillusionment and in particular
the disillusionment of the young in island society which cannot
offer them the glossy freedoms and riches that are being presented
to them each night by television advertising as the norm in the late
twentieth century society. Youngsters in Vatersay, like youngsters
in Benbecula, and Ness, and Glasgow, and Newcastle, and Liverpool,
and London, and Vancouver and New York, look around them and find
ordinariness and unemployment and alcohol and drug addiction whilst
the television world suggests that others live in a world of tight
jeans, fast cars and full employment. No wonder there is
disillusionment, in Vatersay as much as in Handsworth.
Disillusionment, and its destructive social consequences,
may be about the gap between the reality and the ideal, the gap
between life as it really is and the images that are given of life
as it is supposed to be. Hitherto the Highland gap was the reasonably
harmless gap between the real Barra and the mythical Brigadoon, but
now the increasingly dangerous gap is between the real
disillusionment of Daliburgh and the imagistic delights of Dynasty.
If destructive social consequences are not to follow, not only do
the real disillusions have to be tackled but the apparent images also
have to be taken into account. Both tasks are essentially political
tasks, both are urgent, and both require that the local communities
should be in control, in order that life, and its images, can be
relevant and fulfilling...
I am reminded, finally, of an old man in Barra who, in 1970, tired
of returning home to any empty house as television took over from
the ceilidh, one night painted THE END in large white letters on
the end of his thatched cottage. It remains an appropriate
symbol for the passing of one tradition and the arrival of the
brave new world...