Monday, January 24, 2022

Kidnapped 1978

 Kidnapped 1978 is a mini-series of 13 short episodes based on the novel by R.L. Stevenson (actually on the novel and its sequel, Catriona as most of the adaptations). The story proved so popular that it was adapted many times. I do remember watching a 2005 movie which was also quite good.

The plot goes as follows. David Balfour, a young lad of about 17 after the loss of both of his parents goes to stay with his uncle who is a lord of an estate but lives in pretty destitute conditions due to his extreme greediness and paranoia. In his house, David discovers that his father was actually the eldest son which makes him a wealthy heir, but his uncle uses his naivety to sell him into slavery. The ship which is  supposed to bring him to America takes a passenger, Alan Breck Stewart, one of the leaders of the Highland rebellion which had happened several years before.

When the ship captain discovers  that Alan has a belt full of gold, his decision is taken, Alan must die, but David has other plans. Here is his chance to do an honourable deed and to escape slavery and so he warns Alan and the two manage to escape, after killing half of the crew which leads to a shipwreck. Yet the way back goes through Highlands which are crawling with British soldiers and Alan has a price on his head. To make the matters more complicated, the two become chief suspects in a political murder case...

The 2nd novel is much less exciting and mostly deals with the relationship between David and Catriona, the daughter of James McGregor, the eldest son of Rob Roy. 

The story is ostensibly about David yet Alan somehow always manages to become at least just as important. It's no wonder since he is such an alpha male. Handsome despite his smallpox scars which gave him his nickname Breck, good with the sword, loyal and brave even when death seems imminent, never loses his head (unless alcohol and gambling are involved), popular with women, altogether a dashing hero, especially compared to David with his bourgeois prejudices. 

Stevenson was aware of the danger of him getting all the attention so he gave him some unpleasant character traits like arrogance, pride and certain pettiness, but in the1978 production they actually made him a better person than in the novel, which I was quite happy about. Alan is played by David McCallum, who was a very popular actor  and a quite handsome man himself, though he was probably a bit too old for Alan who should be in his late thirties, in my estimation. (McCallum was 45 at that time but still particularly good-looking). They also gave a bigger role to Catriona, which made the story more romantic.

Now in case you wondered, the novel is based on the historical events (the Appin murder) and Alan Breck Stewart really existed. Even though the original story doesn't tell us what happened to him in the end, (apparently he served in the French army and fought against the British in North America) according to his family he later moved to Ireland, married, set up a farm and lived happily ever after (to the good old age of 80, which was not bad at all for those times and considering the sort of life he led) and left many descendants who still live there.

I would recommend  this miniseries to anyone, young and old. I really enjoyed it. The only drawback was the dialect which they spoke that was difficult for us to follow. Here is the link to Ep.1 on YouTube:

Kidnapped Part 1