‘Make Do and Mend’: Crafting a Scottish Underdog in The Flying Scotsman (2006)

Journal article


Robinson, M. 2018. ‘Make Do and Mend’: Crafting a Scottish Underdog in The Flying Scotsman (2006). Open Screens. 1 (1), p. 1–26.. https://doi.org/10.16995/os.7
AuthorsRobinson, M.
Abstract

The Flying Scotsman (2006) charts the exploits of Graeme Obree, who won the World Cycling Championship in 1993 on his homemade ‘Old Faithful’ bicycle. It was the first biopic to focus exclusively on Scottish sporting achievement and this article asks how does that Scottishness interact with the tropes of the sporting biopic and how can The Flying Scotsman be located in the discourses surrounding the sport of cycling? It contends that The Flying Scotsman remodels the sports film’s underdog theme to present Obree as a Scottish underdog hero, untouched by contemporary doping scandals within cycling and who, following Michael de Certeau’s explanation of ‘tactics’ in The Practice of Everyday Life (1984), adopts an improvisational ‘tactical’ approach which enables him to overcome cycling’s dominant forces embodied in English cyclist Chris Boardman and the World Cycling Federation’s bureaucracy. Within the film, Obree (played by Jonny Lee Miller) appropriates different junk materials to craft Old Faithful and describes this approach to cycling as ‘make do and mend’. These ‘tactical’ appropriations are coupled with the film’s ‘textual’ appropriations: The Flying Scotsman draws on generic characteristics familiar from the biopic and sports film which are then blended with visual and narrative references to Bill Forsyth’s films and the depictions of Scottish life presented in British cinema. The film, a bricolage of different traditions, is thus a textual expression of the ‘make do and mend’ philosophy.

KeywordsGraeme Obree; biopic; underdog; The Flying Scotsman; cycling
Year2018
JournalOpen Screens
Journal citation1 (1), p. 1–26.
PublisherOpen Library of Humanities
ISSN2516-2888
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.16995/os.7
Web address (URL)https://www.openscreensjournal.com/article/id/6922/
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online23 Nov 2018
Publication process dates
Accepted14 Nov 2018
Deposited04 Aug 2022
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https://repository.derby.ac.uk/item/98128/-make-do-and-mend-crafting-a-scottish-underdog-in-the-flying-scotsman-2006

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