Walt Disney’s 1960 film of Robert Louis Stevenson’s _Kidnapped_ is not only the best movie version of the 1886 novel but is also one of the finest cinematic treatments of any of the author’s works. Filmed on location in Scotland and featuring an outstanding ensemble of mostly British actors, this _Kidnapped_ is faithful to the spirit — and even, for the most part, to the letter — of the RLS masterpiece, which is half adventure tale and half meditation on Scottish history, culture, and character. Director Robert Stevenson (presumably no relation to Tusitala) never dumbed down the story or the 18th-century context, which may account for the movie’s present limited appeal. It’s atmospherically and thematically darker than the ususal Disney fare, and adult viewers may find it surprisingly rewarding.
As good as cinema has been in retelling the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. It also happens to be my favourite novel, as it was the first I read (age 11) where the central character, David Balfour speaks with my accent and dialect. Furthermore, as a young man growing up I related to David’s character, beliefs and values which reflect those of my own upbringing in a loving secure Lowland Scots Presbyterian (Church of Scotland) family. My biggest criticism is that the character of David as portrayed by James MacArthur spoke with the petulance of a spoiled American kid which did not ring true for a country bred but well educated Lowlander ,who is the recently orphaned son of a Dominie (parish schoolmaster). The late John Laurie played Ebenezer Balfour pretty much as I imagined him from reading the book. Peter Finch made a surprisingly good Alan Breck Stewart, and his speech patterns were faithful both to the book and to a Gaelic speaker speaking in Scots. Many of the incidental character…
If most people are asked what story by Robert Louis Stevenson they are acquainted with, more than likely they will say either TREASURE ISLAND or DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE or KIDNAPPED. KIDNAPPED is a close second to TREASURE ISLAND as Stevenson's most popular complete novel (DR. JECKYLL is a novella). Like THE MASTER OF BALLENTRAE it deals with the great trauma of Scotland's 18th Century history – the failure of the 1745/1746 Jacobite Rebellion of Bonnie Prince Charlie which came so close to success. But it does not deal straight with the events of those years, but rather with the aftermath for Scotland, for England, and for Scottish society.David Balfour (James MacArthur) is a lowlander – he is from the urban centers of Scotland like Glasgow and Edinburgh and Dundee. These commercial centers play a serious role in his story, for David is returning to the home of his ancestors, which is also a business run by his uncle Ebenezer(John Laurie). He is met by a stingy miser who is h…
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