New on DVD: Stone of Destiny

The retrieval of the Stone of Scone was a moment in history that revived a nation and restored its faith in its country. Though the event may have been swallowed by the black of hole of memory, this film is sure to bring it back to the forefront of people’s minds.

In 1296, England’s Edward I claimed Scotland’s Stone of Scone as part of his spoils of war and took the 300-pound sandstone home with him. It remained a not so subtle symbol of England’s rule over Scotland.

Ian Hamilton (Charlie Cox) is a loyal member of the nationalist party but their inability to accomplish any of their goals and the lack of support from most of the country irks him. The party leader (Robert Carlyle) is smart and charismatic, but he’s also at the end of his rope. In a moment of clarity, Ian enlists the help of his best friend (Billy Boyd) to provide the country with a symbol, a reason to fight – they are going to steal the Stone from Westminster Abbey and return it to Scotland, its rightful home. With extensive plans but no prior experience, Ian and three others (Kate Mara, Ciaron Kelly and Stephen McCole) imperfectly but successfully recovered the Stone on Christmas day 1950. All of Scotland rejoiced but the Stone was eventually reclaimed by the English only to return to Scotland on loan.

The actors portraying this determined group really bring the story to life; they are passionate and sincere. The audience is swept away by the story and made equally mad by the dispossession regardless of their background. Cox’s enthusiasm and determinism is inspiring. Happily, the romance between Ian and Kay (Mara) remains a secondary storyline, only coming to the forefront in service of the narrative. Also, the friendship between Kelly and McCole feels quite real, as does Kelly’s character’s transformation from meek to effective.

The story is one of hope that individuals can make a difference. It also implies not doing anything, being apathetic, is part of the problem. These points are underlined by the juxtaposition of an inspiring speech with one of hopelessness.

The DVD special features are director commentary by Charles Martin Smith, which discusses corresponding moments in history with sections of the film as well as the significance of shooting locations, and a featurette titled “The Taking and Making of the Stone of Destiny,” which includes interviews with Smith, the cast, the real-life Ian Hamilton and snippets from a newsreel about the robbery.

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