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100th anniversary for landmark Inverness film


WORDS I ADRIAN HARVEY IMAGES I ALISTER MACBAIN


Believed to be one of the earliest narrative films made in Scotland, and almost certainly the first to be made in the Highlands, local photographer Andrew Paterson used the natural setting of the coast at North Kessock to make a silent movie involving smugglers, which premiered in May 1912.


ANDREWPATERSON opened his first photographic studio in Church Street in 1895, moving 8 years later to Academy Street in 1903. He became a frequent exhibitor at the Royal Photographic Society in London and won numerous awards both nationally and internationally for his work as a portrait photographer. In 1912, Paterson began experimenting


with moving film, producing one of the earliest cinematic films in Scotland. The French producer Leon Gaumont had made a series of short films in the 1890s and for many years his name was known throughout Europe in the cinemas which carried his products. These products were not just the films but the means for


making them. In 1912 one of his area salesmen selling photographic equipment persuaded Paterson to buy a cine camera. Paterson was much involved with amateur theatricals in Inverness at the time and decided to experiment with the new medium. Called ‘Mairi: The Romance of a


Highland Maiden,’ this silent, black and white film runs just over 17 minutes, and is the dramatised account of Mairi, a young girl in love with a Revenue Officer who is caught up in a fight to catch smugglers. The film was first shown to the public in the Central Hall Picture House, Academy Street, Inverness on 20th May 1912.


In 1953 it was re-edited by James Nairn,


who added a written introduction, intertitles and credits. This is the version that has since been preserved and it was shown again in June 1983 at the Eden Court Theatre. Written, produced, directed and filmed


by Andrew Paterson, the cast included local amateur thespians Evelyn Duguid as Mairi, Dan Munro, Jack Maguire, Dan Dallas, Alex Paterson, Tom Snowie, Hector McIver and Luis Lyon. The story involves Highland whisky smuggler Lovat MacDonald, whose daughter Mairi is in love with Revenue Officer Bates. Alpine, one of the smugglers, is also in love with Mairi and


34 www.north-magazine.com


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