Making the Grades
Once in the highlands of Scotland, two weary hunters lost their way.... or so begins the tale of Brigadoon.
Leaving the hubbub of New York City far behind, Tommy Albright (Gene Kelly) and Jeff Douglas (Van Johnson) head overseas for a quiet vacation. But instead of finding wild game to shoot, the city slickers get hopelessly lost in the glens. Not until the first rays of sunlight melt the morning mists do they catch sight of a small village. Although there is no indication of its existence on their map, the baffled bachelors are sure the locals will be able to provide them with directions, and maybe even a bite of breakfast.
Crossing the bridge into the hamlet of Brigadoon is like going back in time. Thatched roofed cottages surround the town square where the residents, clad in old-fashioned tartan attire, gather to sell their wares. The appearance of the strangers brings their business dealing to a halt. Yet it's difficult to tell who is more bemused--the hungry American tourists, or the curious members of the close-knit community.
However (in the tradition of all good Hollywood musicals), the ice between the two groups is broken after a rousing rendition of Go Home With Bonnie Jean. By this time, the idealistic Tommy is completely smitten by his quaint surroundings and especially the beautiful Fiona Campbell (Cyd Charisse). With his toes tapping, he expresses his sentiments as Almost Like Being In Love. The more pragmatic Jeff can't quite embrace the magic or the amorous attention of a pretty shepherdess (Dody Heath) hoping to make him part of her fold. Instead, he savors his sullen outlook between ample swigs of ale.
Whether dreamers or realists, when the pals discover the real secret of the Scottish settlement, they face some sobering decisions sure to test the strength of their friendship, the emotions of their hearts, and their faith in miracles.
Based on a popular Broadway musical, this lavish production polishes over mild sexual innuendo, portrayals of alcoholism and main characters smoking. Other concerns for parents will be an accidental death from a careless gunshot, a character threatened by swords, and a romantic view of marriage solemnized by consent rather than authority.
Those who love this genre will thrill to the performances by some of show business's best entertainers. Those who don't (and this might include your young children) may tire as Gene and Cyd tarry amidst The Heather On the Hill. Fans will be happy to note three songs cut from the 1954 theatrical release are included in the bonus features on this 2005 DVD release. (The more lukewarm group will likely applaud the editor's original decision.)
Just like Brigadoon itself, this movie is a time capsule of a simpler way of life when dancing and singing could put all problems aside. Perhaps that's why we like to escape there. And if we're as lucky as Tommy and Jeff, maybe someone will make a sequel to this film--to premier in 2054 of course.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Brigadoon.
How do you feel about the advice of some of the village elders who council the younger folk: “You’ll never find peace by hating, lad. It only shuts ye off more from the world,” and “It’s the hardest thing in the world to give everything. Though it’s usually the only way to get everything.”
Most of the residents of Brigadoon think of it as a “blessed place,” but one of the characters feels its strict boundaries make it a prison. How does our attitude affect the way we see the world? Why do Jeff and Tommy have such different reactions to their experience in the Highlands?