By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB
I first became interested in Scottish history after a trip to Edinburgh last year. In fact, when I learned about the Jacobite Risings and the Battle of Culloden, I thought they would make a great TV series! So I was thrilled when I heard they had made a series that referenced these aspects of Scottish history. I soon found out that “Outlander” wasn’t just an historical drama, but also a romance and time travel adventure. So, without further ado, let’s discuss the good and bad points of the show and why I chose to give it four stars.
First of all, I was very pleased with the multilingualism found throughout the series, with much of the dialogue in Scottish Gaelic. Before watching “Outlander”, I had already seen Gaelic spoken in movies, but it was always just short snatches spoken by one or two characters. In contrast, “Outlander” contains quite a few full scenes in which the characters speak Gaelic exclusively. The series is a great educational tool, I believe, allowing Scots and people around the world to learn more about the disappearing Gaelic language and culture. Just to give you an idea of the dire straights the language is in, less than one percent of the Scottish population now speak Gaelic, down from 5.1% in 1901 and 22.9% in 1755. But if a series like this doesn’t promote Gaelic in Scotland and abroad, nothing else will!
The story takes place a few years before the last Jacobite Rising in 1745. Rather surprisingly, there were very few historical inaccuracies. This is the first time I’ve seen a mainstream TV series or movie in which Scottish characters are shown wearing authentic traditional kilts, which resembled a Roman toga, instead of the kilt worn after the final defeat of the Scots.
The show also has an interesting psychological aspect. After traveling back in time, the main character (formerly a nurse serving the British Army during WWII) meets one of her husband’s ancestors, who turns out to be the villain. Will she be able to come back to her husband in the 20th century after meeting his cruel ancestor in the 18th? Will she be able to tell him that she fell in love with a highlander who became her second husband? If she ever comes back to her own time, will she be able to forget her beloved highlander? I believe many viewers will be asking themselves these very questions, and this is what makes “Outlander” a great drama!
Now, let me explain why I gave the series four stars rather than five. I honestly was turned off by the amount of sex and violence the writers put into the show. I now have lost count of the number of times other characters attempt to rape the time traveler. Even worse, the hero, Jamie the highlander, is raped and tortured by his nemesis, the English captain “Black” Jack Randall. The torture and rape scene is disgusting—I couldn’t watch all of it. I don’t think this level of graphic violence is necessary for the plot. Should television really include such scenes? Are they moving art forward or crossing a line? Only the future will tell!
I hope you enjoyed my analysis, and I strongly recommend any person interested in languages, history, or science fiction watch “Outlander”. But do yourself a favor: skip the rape scenes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Latin (the last of which he learned with Carmenta) and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. Mr. Gurgel is currently studying Old English through Carmenta as well.
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