|You can trust a Robert Louis Stevenson tale to work in plenty of swashbuckling action, hair-breadth escapes … and moral clarity. Kidnapped doesn’t disappoint, and this 2004 made-for-tv adaptation (don’t confuse it with the earlier PBS version that plays fast and loose with history and the book) delivers a rollicking story with plenty of villains and heroes.
Young Davie Balfour (Brian McCardie) is the rightful heir to the Shaws estate in the Lowlands but his miserly and covetous uncle conspires to have Davie kidnapped for eventual sale into slavery in order to keep the estate for himself. On the ship carrying him away he meets another traveler who didn’t intend to be there, Alan Breck Stuart (Armand Assante), a supporter and agent for the Scottish king in exile, Bonnie Prince Charles. Stuart is a fugitive from the English trying to smuggle gold to Charles from his still loyal subjects after the failed Jacobite rebellion. Together they make a plan and escape the ship and its evil crew and find themselve cast up again on the shores of Scotland.
Stuart is a man of action and experience, while Davie is quiet and well-educated. They make an unlikely, and sometimes unwilling, team as they try to stay one step ahead of the British soldiers, complete Stuart’s mission and regain Davie’s inheritance. Despite their different backgrounds and circumstances, both are clearly men of honor who thereby bring out the worst in those who would harm them. Greed drives many of the actions of others, while some are in it for power. Stuart remains steadfast to his cause and his loyalty to his king, while Davie is “betwixt and between” in his political sentiments but committed to acting honestly and justly.
This version is nearly three hours long and Assante’s Scots brogue is as uneven as the terrain the men find themselves traipsing around, but the story is fun and the on-location scenery is spectacular. It is an entertaining movie for the whole family with several good talking points on the role and importance of honor, duty and honesty. It also has a stirring recitation from Psalms 35 from an innocent leader condemned to die.
Points to Ponder:
The role of clan feuds and long-standing enmity between the people of Scotland and the role this has played in the country’s history.
Questions to answer:
- Why did Davie not open the envelope his father left, even though it had to do with him?
- What question did Stuart ask Campbell the Red Fox that put him on the spot and proved that Campbell was lying to him? Why wouldn’t Campbell answer him?
- Why did James of the Glen surrender himself to Mr. Reed, the agent of King George? Why was this necessary?
- Describe the life of Uncle Ebenezer and the use he got out of his wealth.
- How did Davie change over the course of his adventures, and in what ways did he not? What affect, if any, did he have on Alan Breck Stuart?
(Despite my politics) “As a gentleman, it is my duty to see justice done if I can.” (Davie Balfour)