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Friday, July 3, 2009

The Stone of Destiny DVD Review

The Stone of Destiny - An Alliance Films’ Release

On DVD: June 30th, 2009

Rated PG for coarse language, and language may offend.

Running time: 97 minutes

Charles Martin Smith (dir.)

Charles Martin Smith (screenplay)

Based on the Book ‘The Taking of The Stone of Destiny” by Ian Hamilton Q.C.

Mychael Danna (music)

Charlie Cox as Ian Hamilton

Kate Mara as Kay Matheson

Stephen McCole as Gavin Vernon

Ciaron Kelly as Alan Stuart

Billy Boyd as Bill Craig

Robert Carlyle as John MacCormick

Special Features: Taking and Making The Stone Of Destiny, Director’s Audio Commentary.

Charlie Cox and Billy Boyd star in The Stone of Destiny, in an Alliance Films’ release.

© 2008 Destiny Films, Inc. / The Mob Film Company (Stone) Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Distributed exclusively in Canada by Alliance Films. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


The Stone of Destiny DVD Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Stone of Destiny is a low-key but sometimes suspenseful and exciting heist film that is based on a true story, and told on film in a very believable way. 23 year old Scottish man Ian Hamilton decides to steal the ancient Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey, in London, and bring it back to Scotland, as a symbol of national pride for the Scottish people.

Because of the time it takes place in, the heist sequence is very low-tech. But the filmmakers still manage to have an incredibly cool, suspense filled sequence, without any alarm systems blaring, or shoot-outs in the street. The sheer irony of some of the scenes, also make it very funny and immensely enjoyable.

The DVD has a very interesting 25 minute feature titled The Making and Taking of The Stone Of Destiny, and audio commentary with the director, Charles Martin Smith.


The Stone of Destiny DVD Review By Erin V.

***1/2 (out of 4)

The Stone of Destiny, known as the Stone of Scone, (pronounce “scoon”) looks like an ordinary slab of red sandstone. More than just it’s physical appearance, the stone’s importance lies in the meaning it carries for Scotland. After hundreds of years belonging to the Scots, in 1296 the stone was stolen from them by Edward I, and taken to Westminster Abbey, where it remained until it was taken back in 1950 by four Scottish students who were determined to get this symbol back for their country.

Based on the book ‘The Taking of The Stone of Destiny’ by Ian Hamilton - written mere months after the event while the facts were still hot in his mind - this is a story that was destined for the big (and little) screen since it happened. Ian Hamilton mentioned in the press notes for the film that “a screenplay would arrive at least once a year since then”. But it wasn’t until Charles Martin Smith’s script that he felt the story would be done justice. He also mentioned that there was a previous TV account of the events on the BBC. As he put it, it was an “atrocious production”.

While this is a ‘heist movie’ of sorts, since it took place in 1950, it is not one filled with gadgets to get past security alarms, and all those kinds of things. Thinking it over, it’s a good thing they got the stone out of there when they could, for when this happened, they had only a nightwatchman to contend with, and no cameras silently watching their every move, automatically sending the police within two minutes. No, hard as it was back then, it would be practically impossible to do what they did nowadays.

Despite all of this, the suspense does build up considerably. Be it just missing each other as one goes in one door, and another goes out another, losing the keys to their getaway car, and getting almost caught, this movie is very well paced. The quiet, non-violent rebellion that these young college students staged, was remarkable to say the least. Armed with the naiveté (that many young people have) to not know how impossible it would be to actually carry out their ambitious plan, they were not deterred from actually trying it. With visits to the Abbey, sketches of the floor plans etc., the students, led by Ian Hamilton tried to plan everything out as closely as they could. There were still surprises though, and estimates that were off, e.g., the stone, which weighs nearly 152 kg, or about 335 lbs, was heavier than they had expected it to be, when they actually went in to try to drag out of the Abbey.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this movie. The acting is good, as is the cinematography, and music. Canadian Mychael Danna’s score coupled with traditional Scottish music really added to the feel of this movie. The Stone of Destiny was shot on location in Glasgow, Scotland, London, England, and Vancouver, Canada. The sweeping shots of Scotland are beautiful to look at - it was nice to hear that the producers felt so strongly that parts of the film had to be shot in Scotland. There is no replacing the value that was added for that. The 25 minute bonus feature included on the DVD, entitled, ‘The Taking and Making of The Stone of Destiny’ covers some of these decisions, while talking to the cast and crew, as well as the real Ian Hamilton. After seeing the movie, it really is a good watch.


The Stone of Destiny DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

Stone of Destiny is a beautifully shot film following four college students and their quest to bring the Stone of Destiny back to Scotland. The stone was used in the coronation of Scottish kings and queens, until Scotland became part of Great Britain, in 1296. The stone was brought to Westminster Abbey, and used for British coronations. In 1951 however, one bold university student, Ian Hamilton, wants to steal the stone from Westminster Abbey and bring it back to Scotland. He recruits three other students to help him liberate the stone. It is decided that the heist will take place on Christmas Eve, when everyone else is busy. The heist is both exciting and suspense filled. The amazing thing about this movie is that it is based entirely on a true story.

The scenery in this film is spectacular, the acting is great, and the story is exciting and fun. We really root for these four, as their act frees the hearts of the Scottish people. Mychael Danna's score is beautiful, capturing the beauty of Scotland. This low key film is a pleasure to watch.

The DVD contains a commentary track, and an excellent featurette entitled "The taking and making of the Stone of Destiny". Here we have interviews with the actors and director. talking both about their experiences filming, and the history behind the film. The real Ian Hamilton is also interviewed, and has a cameo in the film.

Buy this DVD. You will want to see it more than once.


The Stone of Destiny DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Stone of Destiny is an enjoyable, low key adventure story. The fact that it is based on a true story makes it all the more appealing.

Set in Scotland in 1950, the story revolves around four Scottish students who take it upon themselves to break into Westminster Abbey Christmas Eve and bring back the famous ‘Stone of Destiny’ and symbolically free Scotland.

Watching the four pull off this daring heist is a lot of fun. The fact that all this really happened is incredible to think about.

The strength in Stone of Destiny is the excellent acting, the beautiful scenery and the lovely musical score and of course the amazing story itself.

The DVD has a “Taking and Making The Stone of Destiny” feature that is excellent. It was especially interesting seeing and hearing Ian Hamilton, the man who actually organized and carried out this daring heist.

Stone of Destiny is worth checking out especially if you have Scottish roots.


The Stone of Destiny DVD Review By Tony

***1/2 (out of 4)

Based on the recent book by Ian Hamilton (Charlie Cox), Stone of Destiny tells how he and three other Glasgow university students raided Westminster Abbey to retrieve the Stone of Destiny on Christmas eve in 1950. Originally a coronation seat for Scottish kings, it was taken out of Scotland in 1296 and placed under the coronation throne of English and subsequently British monarchs. After World War II, Scottish nationalism was far from the minds of most Scots, save for some activists encouraged by the university head John MacCormick (Robert Carlyle). Retrieving the Stone could rekindle it–failure to do so could result in long prison terms and ruin the lives of the perpetrators. Without giving anything away, I will simply say that Scotland eventually got a measure of self rule with its own parliament in 1998.

The exuberance of the good young cast in this Scottish/Canadian coproduction under American director Charles Martin Smith keeps the film lighthearted. While there is some suspense, the pace is much more leisurely than we are used to with today’s sophisticated security systems. Canadian composer Mychael Danna’s powerful score incorporates Scottish tunes in both full orchestral and traditional arrangements. Though I am of neither Scottish nor Irish heritage, I felt the same kind of vicarious nationalistic stick-it-to-the-English enjoyment that I got a few years back from the charming Irish film Hear My Song.

The DVD includes a moving featurette that, with spoilers, should be seen after the film. We meet the real Ian Hamilton, now in his 80s, who was always around to provide essential details, and was delighted with the results. As an actor himself, Charles Martin Smith was very supportive of the young cast, and they bonded quickly. They were further inspired by the actual locations used whenever possible.


Consensus: Based on the remarkable true story, The Stone of Destiny is a film worth seeing. ***1/2 (Out of 4)


Robert Carlyle stars in The Stone of Destiny, an Alliance Films’ release.


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