|Directed by||Michael Hoffman|
|Written by||Ninian Dunnett|
|Produced by||Rick Stevenson|
|Music by||Big Country|
|Distributed by||Thorn EMI Screen Entertainment|
The story follows the adventures of two Scottish youths from the Wester Hailes district of Edinburgh, played by Vincent Friell and Joe Mullaney, who, in rebellion to their drab lives in urban Scotland in the mid-1980s, become modern highwaymen. Donning masks of a clown and a wolf-man and riding a Suzuki GP 125 motorbike, for a joke they waylay and hold up with a toy gun tourist coaches in the Highlands, in the process becoming a tourist attraction themselves. Having inadvertently acquired substantial amounts of money, they proceed to become modern Robin Hoods, doling it out to the poor of their city by scattering it on bike rides through its streets, attracting national media attention and pursuit by the police.
Restless Natives—as suggested by its title—has underlying themes beyond its superficial presentation as a light social comedy film. It was produced at a time of high unemployment in the United Kingdom, with Scotland being particularly affected by post-industrial economic blight, and being governed from London by an Anglocentric radical political order that the Scottish people had collectively electorally rejected in the recent 1983 United Kingdom general election. The main storyline's premise reflected the frustration of mid-1980s Scottish working class youth, with limited life chances and economic prospects at home, breaking free of their constraint in the dispiriting confines of a grim cityscape of mid-20th century Brutalist urban architecture, using the freedom facilitated by a motorcycle (in a tacit reference to a recent admonition from a British Government Minister to the millions of unemployed in the country to "get on their bikes" to find elusive jobs) to escape into revitalizing open vistas of the landscape of the Scottish Highlands. The production was a part of a group of small-budget cinematic productions, along with titles such as Gregory's Girl (1981) and Local Hero (1983), that brought stories of contemporary life in Scotland to a global cinema audience. The film acquired cult status, being regarded as a homemade expression of local Scottish cultural pride, becoming a minor media source of insurgent Scottish cultural identity, subliminally juxtaposed to Britishness, and feeding into the developing proto–Scottish Nationalist movement in the arts, with its soaring distinctive soundtrack from the band Big Country, whose music dealt with the same themes.
The soundtrack features music from the band Big Country. This music was not released on an album but was combined into two lengthy tracks, each featuring various pieces of music and clips of actors from the film's audio, which appeared on limited edition formats of two Big Country 12" singles. The soundtrack was released on CD for the first time on the 1998 Big Country collection Restless Natives & Rarities, where it is presented as a single 35-minute track.
The film performed well at the box office in Scotland, but commercially failed in other markets.
- Alexander Walker, Icons in the Fire: The Rise and Fall of Practically Everyone in the British Film Industry 1984-2000, Orion Books, 2005 p35
- "Back to the Future: The Fall and Rise of the British Film Industry in the 1980s - An Information Briefing" (PDF). British Film Institute. 2005. p. 28.
- "Our Top 10 Most Scottish Films - Number 7: Restless Natives". 4 March 2015.
- Canby, Vincent (12 September 1986). "FILM: COMICAL STRIVINGS IN 'RESTLESS NATIVES'" – via NYTimes.com.
- "Restless Natives Trailer" – via www.youtube.com.
- "Cult Movie Column - Restless Natives | The Skinny". www.theskinny.co.uk.
- 'On the side of the Angels', Malcolm, Derek. The Guardian, 27 June 1985.