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November 13, 2015

Bagpipes on the Silver Screen

Filed under: Bagpipe Music — caber @ 1:12 AM

The bagpipe is a common instrument at funerals, especially for the fallen military and public safety personnel like firefighters and members of the police force. It has been a prominent feature at weddings and community gatherings since Irish and Scottish immigrants made it popular on this side of the Atlantic Ocean.

The Great Highland Bagpipes are easily the most famous and most familiar. These bagpipes have not only spread out across the country from major cities like Boston, New York and Boston along the east coast that provided refuge from the Potato Famine.

Some bagpipes have also played starring roles in Hollywood movies and popular TV series. Bagpipes have even appeared in a few memorable commercials too. You may recognize quite a few of the supporting actors who have appeared on screen in productions that included bagpipes.

  • 1935 – Bonnie Scotland, Laurel and Hardy inherit bagpipes

  • 1939 – Gunga Din, Cary Grant, Douglas Fairbanks set in India during British rule
  • 1949 – The Hasty Heart, Ronald Reagan and Richard Todd, World War II
  • 1958 – The Buccaneer, Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, the Battle of New Orleans
  • 1959 – Journey to the Center of the Earth, Pat Boone, James Mason and Arlene Dahl, Edinburgh City Police Pipe Band
  • 1965 – Help, the Beatles and a bagpipe band
  • 1967 – Casino Royale, a James Bond classic, with David Niven as 007
  • 1981 – Gallipoli, Mel Gibson and Mark Lee, Athol and Ulster Pipe Band (Australia)
  • 1985 – Braveheart, a Mel Gibson classic set in Scotland that used Uilleann Pipes (Ireland) instead of Great Highland Bagpipes (Scotland)
  • 1985 – Highlander, Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, first movie of the series
  • 1986 – Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, parade with bagpipe band
  • 1989 – The Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams (pipes and chanter)
  • 1995 – Burger King commercial, featuring the Los Angeles Police Pipe Band
  • 1996 – Invention, the Smithsonian and Discovery Channel explain bagpipes
  • 1997 – Coke commercial, featuring College of Wooster, Pipe Band of Ohio

This is a selection of bagpipes roles from the silver screen and its offspring (TV). You can find many more movies, commercials and TV series that have bagpipes in starring roles, as off-screen soundtracks or featured in other ways at Bagpipes Go to the Movies or by using the Internet Movie Database’s advanced search option.