I personally hadn’t heard of this film, never mind its Glasgow connections, until a Google search for something else Glasgow on Film related happened to bring up a link to a Flickr profile with a great set of pictures from production of one of the film’s scenes on Cochrane Street.
Having watched the movie now I’m actually quite surprised that the making of Salt On Our Skin doesn’t feature as strongly in Glasgow’s collective memory as, say, Postmortem or The House Of Mirth. The film is pretty forgettable but the scale of production that appears to have taken place in Glasgow – significant set dressing in one of the city’s main transport hubs, a protest scene in the city centre – must have turned heads at the time.
A 1992 release, Salt On Our Skin stars Greta Scacchi as George and Vincent D’Onofrio as Gavin. George is the daughter to wealthy parents – a French mother and Scottish artist father – who grows up in Paris but pays annual visits to the Aberdeenshire countryside on family holidays. During one such trip in her late teens she falls in love with local farmer Gavin. When George turns down Gavin’s marriage proposal the latter moves on and marries another girl back home in Scotland, where he has moved on from the fields to become a fisherman. But the pair’s lust for each other remains and so follows the longest and most widely travelled extra-marital affair in history – we see the two meet around the world for passionate encounters over the passage of years.
The film is bearable enough to watch – perhaps due to the continued change of scenery – but it does tend to follow a repetitive loop of close ups of faces during sex with the same bit of soundtrack playing, a clash of cultures argument and then a make up kiss. Slightly ridiculous too is that changes in hairstyles alone are meant to represent George’s transition from teenager to middle aged woman (compared to her mother who seems to age dramatically between her first and last appearances).
The film has a variety of settings that would put a James Bond film to shame – Aberdeenshire, Paris, London, the British Virgin Islands, Florida and Montreal. Glasgow appears briefly in numerous guises throughout, namely…
– when Central Station doubles for Paris’ Gare du Nord, complete with French signage and newspaper kiosk.
– when the fictional (from what I can gather) “Cavell College” in the USA is portrayed by the University of Glasgow.
– when Cochrane Street and City Chambers provide the backdrop for a London-set protest against fishing cuts. As with the Gare du Nord scene, considerable effort in set dressing is evident: lots of suitably attired extras, red routemaster buses, London Transport signage etc.
– when the exterior of Kelvingrove Art Gallery is used as the exterior of the St. Lawrence Lecture Hall in Montreal.