16 Terrific Movies About Scotland To Watch Right Now

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Travel across Europe via the big screen with the best movies about Scotland to watch right now.

If you are looking to travel the world from the comfort of your armchair, why not watch these films about Scotland to take you there and teach you more?

Below, find our favorite movies set in Scotland – both in present-day and historical times – sure to bring the country and its history to life.

Meet prominent figures, watch important battles, and take journeys of self-discovery, including coming of age. Survive that hiking trip, too.

Uncover animated films, thrillers, mysteries, period dramas, romantic comedies, war films, and more.

Don’t forget to let us know your favorite movie about Scotland in the comments. Let’s get started!

You may also love these fiction and nonfiction books about Scotland.

Movies About Scotland with brown Scottish Highland cow with large antlers sitting in front of mountain on green grass
Travel across the world with the best movies about Scotland to watch before you go.

Read your favorite books and watch films about Scotland here:

  • Express VPN – Using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allows you to view movies worldwide – and they help keep your information safe. Our writers couldn’t have such diverse film reviews without a VPN.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Stream thousands of ad-free movies and TV series on demand with Prime Video.
  • Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.

16 Best Movies About Scotland

By Jeremy Paterson

Braveheart Movie Poster with image of man with long redish orange hair holding a sword with fire behind him

Braveheart (1995)

It is 1280, and the cruel King Edward “Longshanks” of England has invaded and conquered the lands of Scotland.

During his bloody campaign, he kills many Scottish lords and noblemen, as well as the father and brother of young William Wallace, who is then spirited away to Europe by his uncle.

Years later, Wallace returns to Scotland as a grown man and finds the English ruling his people with an iron fist.

Together with a band of ragtag Scotsmen, who also desire freedom from the tyrannical English king, they begin the fight that will hopefully see Scotland free and independent once and for all.

Braveheart is one of the most globally famous movies about Scotland.

Both directed by and starring Mel Gibson – who won an Academy Award in the process – it is a gripping film, though it’s not without its controversies.

Let’s just say that the thrilling battle scenes will hopefully distract the history buff viewers from the number of historical inaccuracies throughout the runtime.

Trainspotting Film Poster with black and white images of people and scenes from the movie

Trainspotting (1996)

(Trigger warnings for hard drug use and other adult scenes)

For Renton, life as a heroin addict has lost its sheen.

Having spent a good amount of time getting regularly high with his “friends” Sick Boy, Spud, and their dealer, “Mother Superior,” he’s decided to try and get clean.

But leaving such a powerful drug behind is by no means easy, and soon his life has become even more complicated.

He’s having trouble controlling the effects of withdrawal, and he’s just entered into a relationship that he really shouldn’t have.

Plus, the fact that he even knows the psychotic Francis Begbie could be enough to get him in trouble.

Will he be able to avoid falling back into drug-fueled bad habits and keep a steady job? Or is he doomed to an aimless – and probably short – life of addiction?

Even in the UK where it was made, Trainspotting is deservedly known for being a heavy film to watch.

Though you may well have seen its influence in other popular culture in the years since its release, seeing as it’s adapted from one of the most famous Scottish books ever written.

Be warned: this film has earned the highest possible rating certification in the UK for a reason.

But despite its dark subject matter, if your sense of humor is attuned to the British mentality, Trainspotting could be one of the funniest movies set in Scotland you’ve ever seen.

Hallam Foe Movie Poster with image of two people embraced on top and two people climbing extra large stairs on bottom

Hallam Foe (2007)

Young Hallam Foe has a talent, and it’s spying on people.

For a while, the seventeen-year-old has been able to do it from his treehouse, but now that his father has a new partner following Hallam’s mother’s death, he needs to go and spy somewhere else.

Plus, he’s pretty sure his new stepmother had something to do with his mother’s drowning. So, Hallam heads to Edinburgh and finds himself employed in a hotel in the city.

Here he has plenty of opportunity to spy on people, seeing as his sleeping quarters happen to be high up in a clocktower.

His new main subject is Kate, an administrator at the hotel who gave him the job and who looks surprisingly like Hallam’s mother.

With the help of some questionable hijinks at the hotel and some valuable life lessons, Hallam just might survive his coming-of-age in this strange city.

Containing a cast of strong performances and a dash of mystery, this romantic drama is one of the most engaging films set in Edinburgh made in recent years.

The 39 Steps Movie Poster with man and woman embraced on top and then image of man with hand over woman's mouth on bottom

The 39 Steps (1935)

An evening at the theater turns into a desperate race against time for the protagonist of this mystery crime thriller.

Richard Hannay is happily watching a performance of “Mr. Memory” one evening when gunshots stop the show and send the audience into a panic.

A frantic woman falls into his arms, and she persuades him to take her to his apartment. She says her name is Annabelle Smith and that she fired the shots as a distraction.

It turns out Annabelle Smith is a spy on the run, and things get even worse for Richard when she dies in his arms with a knife in her back and a map of Scotland in her hands.

Now Richard must head to Scotland to uncover why she was killed, and reveal the mystery of “The 39 Steps.”

Legendary Alfred Hitchcock directed this old-school thriller, so you know the suspense will be intense. The 39 Steps is one of the greatest classic Hollywood films set in Scotland.

Brave Movie Poster with girl with red frizzy and curly hair wielding a bow and arrow

Brave (2012)

Merida is the daughter of King Fergus and lives with her royal family in Scotland.

While her family has some strict traditions she is expected to follow, she would rather make her own way in the world, especially when it comes to archery practice (which is un-Princess-like).

This rebellious streak comes to a head when, in a fit of anger and exasperation at her mother for trying to get her to partake in an unwelcome betrothal, she flees the castle into the woods.

There, she meets a strange old woman who turns out to be a witch, and who will grant Merida one wish.

However, far from getting what she wanted, Merida must now face up to the consequences of her actions.

This is Pixar’s first animated movie to feature a female lead, and in their celebration of Scotland, they pushed the Scottishness of this film through the roof.

Featuring the vocal talents of plenty of Scottish acting gems, Brave is one of the best movies about Scotland for younger viewers – and parents too.

Calibre Movie Poster with two men back to back and one is carrying a shovel

Calibre (2018)

In order to take a break from his business job in Edinburgh, Marcus brings his boarding school friend Vaughn up into the Scottish Highlands for a weekend hunting trip.

While there, the two spend time drinking in a pub and meeting some of the local villagers.

When the two go out hunting, they luckily find a deer in an open clearing. However, when the deer moves while Vaughn takes his shot, he accidentally shoots a boy that was hidden behind it.

Shortly after, the boy’s father arrives and attempts to shoot Vaughn, but Marcus shoots him dead first.

Now, having each killed someone on their hunting trip, the two friends resort to desperate measures in order to avoid getting caught.

Calibre is a tightly-executed drama/thriller, with constant tension keeping viewers on edge until the end.

If you like serious films about Scotland set in the great outdoors, this is the nail-biter for you.

The Wicker Man Film Poster with image of robot like human with orange rays coming out of it and water and cliff landscape in the background

The Wicker Man (1973)

Police Sergeant Neil Howie is on a particularly serious case: he needs to find young Rowan Morrison, a girl who has seemingly disappeared.

Following a lead in the form of an anonymous letter, he travels to the Scottish island of Summerisle and begins to question members of the local community.

The islanders are, alarmingly, a Pagan community, which perturbs the devoutly Christian Police Sergeant.

They also, in his eyes, seem to be hampering his investigation, claiming that Rowan Morrison doesn’t exist.

Little does he know that his path is leading towards doom… in the form of the Wicker Man.

Featuring a bravura performance from Christopher Lee as the imposing Lord Summerisle, leader of the island, The Wicker Man is a masterpiece of horror, suspense and, it has to be said, dark humor.

It is one of the best folk horror movies about Scotland, and any similarities to the more recent Nicholas Cage remake of this film are entirely coincidental.

Watch even more gripping films about island troubles.

Sunshine on Leith Film Poster with image of person holding up another person and their arms in the air with a large sun over the horizon behind them

Sunshine on Leith (2013)

Davy and Ally are two friends from Edinburgh who are serving in the military in Afghanistan.

When they are discharged, they both return home to their families in Edinburgh, but life has taken on some new challenges.

Both men struggle with the return to everyday life, and the activities and machinations of their family members aren’t making things any easier.

Will they be able to find love and a place for themselves outside of life as soldiers?

If it feels like Sunshine on Leith has something of a minimalist plot, it’s because this movie musical is an adaptation of the stage play by the same name that’s based on the songs of the Scottish band The Proclaimers.

As such, the mood here is definitively feel-good, and any shortcomings in the narrative can be excused by the catchy tunes and high-energy performances of the cast.

Not many movies about Scotland are this overtly positive, so enjoy it while it lasts!

Red Road Movie Poster with cityscape and skyscrapper with birds in the sky

Red Road (2006)

CCTV operator Jackie leads a mostly solitary life. Despite the occasional adulterous fling with a married man, she mostly spends her time monitoring the Red Road Flats in Glasgow.

One day, she sees the face of a man she recognizes on her screens. His name is Clyde, and Jackie has a history with him that she cannot ignore.

Despite her better judgment, Jackie begins to stalk Clyde, following his movements from her secret surveillance vantage point.

Eventually, she decides that she cannot stay away; she needs to confront him, no matter the consequences.

This effective and taut mystery thriller from writer/director Andrea Arnold unfolds at a satisfying rate.

Add to this the well-executed performances of the lead actors, and you’ve got one of the best films about Glasgow to enjoy.

Shell Movie Poster with person with long redish hair running in long green shirt toward a car driving on road in mountainous landscape

Shell (2012)

Abandoned by her mother as a child, Shell lives with her epileptic father at a remote gas station in the Scottish Highlands.

Her daily life is pretty bleak as she works at the gas station, with very few visitors and plenty of harsh cold winds.

The only people she frequently comes into contact with are her father and regular customers Hugh and Adam.

While Hugh is much older, Adam is about Shell’s age, and the two begin something of a relationship.

One day, she decides, she’s going to get on one of the trucks that passes through and never look back.

Shell is a hard-hitting drama with some adult themes but nevertheless has some gorgeous cinematography that really shows off the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Anyone who has felt stuck in a rut – or felt trapped in a lonely place they thought they’d never be able to leave – may find a connection with both this and other independent films about Scotland.

The Legend of Barney Thomson Film Poster with three white people, two men and a red-haired woman, and sky and cityscape behind them

The Legend of Barney Thomson (2015)

To say Barney Thomson doesn’t have much going on in his life is an understatement. His entire life and personality seem to revolve around the fact that he’s a barber.

He’s been a barber for 20 years in the same barbershop, and not only is he not the owner yet, he’s not even the manager.

But things are about to change drastically for Barney because he seems to have accidentally killed his boss.

This is a huge problem (of course), but it’s made even more disastrous because there’s a serial killer operating in the area; now, the local police are starting to suspect that it’s Barney.

Movies about Scotland are usually dark affairs, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be funny. And this film (which is also known simply as Barney Thomson in the United States) is definitely both.

If an accidental serial killer trying to keep his job as a hairdresser doesn’t hook you, the cast – which features Robert Carlyle, Dame Emma Thompson and Ray Winstone – is fantastic.

Mary Queen of Scots Movie Poster with two women in long yellowish brown period gowns

Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

Set during a turbulent time in the history of what would become the United Kingdom, this biographical drama focuses on Mary Tudor.

Sent abroad from Scotland at a young age, Mary was betrothed to the King of France and married him at the age of 16, though he died just two years later.

Now a widow at 18, and heir to the throne of Scotland since she was just six days old, she returned to her homeland to claim her birthright.

But trouble comes in the form of the formidable Elizabeth 1st of England. Both women are wary of – and yet fascinated by – each other, being female rulers in a patriarchal world.

When one attempts to overthrow the other, it can only mean imprisonment and execution.

With strong performances from Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as the two Queens, Mary Queen of Scots is perfect for those who love historical drama films about Scotland.

A Lonely Place to Die Film Poster with image of lake surrounded by trees at night with glow of moon

A Lonely Place to Die (2011)

When five friends decide to go for a climbing and hiking trip in the Scottish Highlands, the most exertion they expect to encounter is from the rugged terrain.

So when they find a young woman buried alive in a chamber in the wilderness, their expectations are thrown completely.

Deciding to try and help the girl – who seems to be European and doesn’t speak any English – they begin to travel back towards civilization.

However, one of the group falls to his death whilst abseiling down a rock face. When the rest find his body, they see that the rope holding him up did not snap; it was cut.

Little do they know that they are now in the middle of a hunting ground and those who imprisoned the girl are picking them off one by one.

There’s plenty of tension and anxiety to experience whilst watching this crime thriller, making A Lonely Place to Die one of the movies set in Scotland perfect for fans of action and drama alike.

Find even more thrilling movies about hiking.

Dog Soldiers Film Poster with blue and black wolf with red eyes over person in blue and back forest

Dog Soldiers (2002)

Sent on a training mission in the Scottish Highlands, a squad of British soldiers is expecting to be pitted against a SAS Special Ops unit.

To the soldiers’ surprise, instead, they find the unit’s bloody remains.

Soon after, they begin to hear what sounds like monstrous howling in the distance, and they discover a zoologist who knows that they are all being hunted… by werewolves.

Suddenly trapped in an isolated area, the team must now try and survive until dawn, but as their numbers (and their ammo) start dwindling, it looks like none of them will escape with their lives.

This low-budget supernatural horror launched the career of writer/director Neil Marshall, who went on to direct the modern horror classic The Descent as well as episodes of Game of Thrones (before it went off the rails).

Dog Soldiers is one of the most innovative UK horror movies about Scotland, reshaping a classic movie monster for a new generation.

Highlander Movie Poster with blurry image of a white person with brown hair in building with cityscape in the window

Highlander (1986)

There is nothing unusual about Russell Nash. He’s just your average NYC antique dealer, the latest in a long line of his family who has lived in the same address for a few hundred years.

He’s definitely not an immortal being named Connor MacLeod from 16th-century Scotland, locked in an eternal duel with the other members of his kind until only one remains, standing victorious above the decapitated bodies of the rest.

But if any of those other immortal beings turn up looking for Connor MacLeod in order to cut his head off and obtain limitless power, you know he’s going to take up his ancestral sword and meet them in glorious battle.

Wow, the 80s was a heck of a decade.

Not only are there too few films set in Scotland that get this creative, but there are plenty of sci-fi and fantasy films that don’t come close to how bonkers this is.

Through flashbacks, we get to see MacLeod’s Scottish ancestry and upbringing, as well as his first encounters with other immortals like him.

Highlander spawned numerous movie sequels (both live-action and animated), as well as more than one TV adaptation and a web series.

Restless Natives Film Poster with two people, an older and younger son, looking at open material on table and skulls in cases in background

Restless Natives (1985)

Living in southwest Edinburgh can sometimes be exceptionally boring. Will and Ronnie are young men in such a situation, and together they decide to do something about it.

Thinking that they’ll enjoy pretending to be modern highwaymen, they put on some clown masks and use a novelty toy gun to hold up a coach full of tourists.

In doing so, they inadvertently achieve two things: they end up with a substantial amount of money and suddenly become a tourist attraction themselves.

Deciding to emulate Robin Hood, the two give their newfound loot to the poor of the city, but they also start attracting police attention – and soon they’re in over their heads.

This is one of the most gentle, lighthearted, and whimsical comedy films about Scotland you can find.

It’s easy to root for the two young lads as they try to make the most of what they’re doing, and the fact that it’s not malicious is a refreshing change from the usually dour tone of other Scottish crime movies.

Read more about and watch these movies about Scotland:

Amazon Prime Video | Netflix | IMDb | Hulu | Max

Save The Best Films About Scotland For Later:

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Did you find a new movie about Scotland to watch? Save this list for later, and travel around the world with The Uncorked Librarian.

Grab or watch books and films set in Scotland here:

  • Express VPN – Using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) allows you to view movies worldwide – and they help keep your information safe. Our writers couldn’t have such diverse film reviews without a VPN.
  • Amazon Prime Video – Stream thousands of ad-free movies and TV series on demand with Prime Video.
  • Audible Plus: From Amazon, listen to Amazon Originals, podcasts, and audiobooks. They add new titles every week.

What are your favorite movies set in Scotland?

What movies about Scotland do you love and recommend? Let us know in the comments.

Travel Across Europe With These Movies:

This Scotland movie list pairs well with our 2023 Uncorked Reading Challenge.

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Jeremy Paterson

Jeremy (pronouns: any) is an autistic writer, hobbyist, and movie buff, as long as that movie is Labyrinth. Since leaving the corporate world behind in 2018, he has read more books than he thought possible. True to his British upbringing, his first instinct in any given situation is to put the kettle on.

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