Visions of Scotland is
basically a video tour book. Imagine a helicopter tour of Scotland,
minus the vibration and noise of the rotors, and with an affable
local guide describing the sights as you pass over them, and you'll
have Visions of Scotland to a T.
The main program, which runs 56
minutes, is an entirely aerial tour of the bonny country of Scotland.
While at first I was unsure how well a birds'-eye view would work
without on-the-ground camera support, by the end I was convinced that
the Visions filmmakers know what they're doing. In addition to
broad overviews of the Scottish landscape, we also get fairly close
views of important buildings and landmarks, with the
helicopter-mounted camera skimming close to the ground or near the
buildings. The overhead view offers a delightful sense of grasping
the "big picture", showing off aspects of town layout and
building design that would be impossible to appreciate fully from the
The program tends to emphasize the
towns and cities of Scotland, showing off its streets, monuments, and
famous buildings; however, the rural landscapes and beautiful
countryside are not neglected. The Scottish Highlands are given
particular attention, and their beauty comes across very well here.
Appropriately enough, the voiceover
narration is delivered by a narrator with a delicious Scottish
accent. The narration provides an interesting commentary of facts
about the places that Visions of Scotland visits, so that
viewers learn a bit about Scottish history, culture, and geography
along the way. It's not an information-packed narration, as it's just
a loosely linked series of miscellaneous facts with stretches of
music-only footage interspersed, but the viewer will still emerge
from Visions of Scotland knowing a bit more about Scotland
than when he or she started (as well as appreciating it more). The
one thing that I wish had been included at some point is a map: it
would have been nice to see where the different cities, towns,
rivers, and lakes mentioned in the program are in relation to each
Visions of Scotland appears
in anamorphic widescreen, at the 1.85:1 aspect ratio. The image
quality is good in the large scale, with natural-looking colors and
good contrast. It's very pixellated, though, and there are noticeable
artifacts when the camera pans quickly over data-heavy images like
forests or fields of grass.
The stereo soundtrack is good,
providing a clear platform for the voiceover narration. The music is
handled well, and everything sounds clean and pleasant.
There's a 24-minute segment of bonus
footage. It's more of the same lovely camerawork, skimming over
beautiful Scottish scenery, with mellow music in the background.
Unfortunately, there's no voiceover narration, so while we're given
the names of the places on the screen, we don't get to learn anything
Visions of Scotland is a
mellow and relaxing look at the beautiful sights of Scotland. The
hour-long program goes by quickly, full of interesting things to look
at and lovely landscapes to appreciate. It's not really a
documentary, since its informative content is fairly low-key (along
the lines of what you'll find in a travel guide), but it's a nice
introduction to a lovely country. It's enjoyable to watch, but
probably not something that has a lot of repeat viewing value, so
I'll give it a positive "rent it" suggestion for
prospective virtual travelers.