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"I shall think on you as dead until my husband makes you so. Then I shall think on you no more."
Rob Roy's wife Mary, to the man who raped her
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A 1995 film (Very Loosely Based on a True Story, being vaguely inspired by real events; has almost nothing to do with the 1817 novel by Sir Walter Scott) directed by Michael Caton-Jones, starring Liam Neeson, Tim Roth, Jessica Lange, Brian Cox, and John Hurt. It tells the heavily fictionalized story of Scottish folk hero Robert Roy MacGregor, and his part in the Jacobite Rising. While it was overshadowed by that other 1995 movie about Scottish rebellion against the English, the climactic Sword Fight is held up as one of the best in film.

Robert Roy MacGregor is a chieftain in the Scottish Highlands. He borrows £1,000 from the Marquess of Montrose, but it's stolen by Montrose's protege, a deadly fop named Archibald Cunningham (played by Tim Roth, who earned an Oscar nomination).

Montrose agrees to forgive the debt if MacGregor frames his enemy, the Duke of Argyll. He refuses, has his farm burnt and his wife raped, and is forced to go into hiding. He must find a way to clear his name in court, or failing that, war against those who come after him.

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These works contain the following tropes:

  • Agent Peacock: Archie cares a great deal about fashion and courtly manners, and goes out of his way to seem a Sissy Villain. Anyone who actually finds themselves in a fight with him, however, quickly realises that this does not mean he's harmless.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Montrose and Cunningham are sneeringly evil villains. The Duke of Argyll is the one exception, as a reasonably honorable guy.
  • Barehanded Blade Block: Rob delivers one in the final duel, seriously slicing open his hand, but winning the fight nonetheless.
  • Bastard Bastard: Archibald is the bastard of a wealthy noblewoman and implied to be either Montrose's son or a relative. He's accustomed to living in court, but has no money or inheritance to support himself.
  • BFS: The heavy claymores of the Scots are contrasted with the nimble Royal Rapiers of the British. Archie mocks Guthrie's sword as a "cleaver."
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  • The Brute: Guthrie, a crude swordsman who acts as muscle.
  • But You Screw One Goat!: The Highlanders are frequently the subject of "sheep-shagger" jokes. Mary herself makes a rather bitter one when Rob has to go on the run.
  • Character Title: Rob Roy, our hero.
  • Child by Rape: Quite possibly the case with Mary's baby, although she can't say for sure whether Rob or her rapist is the father.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Played with. Argyll affects elements of Highland dress (the eagle-feather bonnet and tartan sash), as well as retaining a distinctive Scottish burr, to let the audience know that he would be more in sympathy with the Scottish people. Whereas Montrose wears full-on English fashions and sports an English accent to demonstrate the opposite.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Rob repeatedly uses tricky and surprising moves to win fights, which juxtaposes his otherwise honorable behavior.
  • The Dandy: Cunningham. Fashion is Serious Business for him because, as a noble bastard, he needs to look the part of a noble to be accepted as that class. After Cunningham steals the MacGregor clan's money, Montrose notes with suspicion that Cunningham has acquired new clothes.
  • Deliberate Injury Gambit: One of Rob's special moves, used twice: once to prevent a fight, and once to win a fight. In the first example, he slices his own hand on Guthrie's blade to declare him the "winner" of their duel. In the final duel, Rob grabs onto Archibald's blade before dealing a death blow.
  • Dirty Coward: Killearn. Archibald, whatever else can be said about him, is perfectly willing to put himself in physical danger to get what he wants, while Killearn buckles immediately when faced with a stronger character.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: Archibald is The Dragon to Montrose, but it's the former who is really the main villain of the story. Their relationship is somewhere between this an a Big Bad Duumvirate- Archibald robs Montrose of his money and is easily the worst person of the two, but Montrose is the one with the status and wealth, and he goes along with it to further his own agenda. Archie, though, remains the one driving the plot and carrying out most of the crimes in the movie (and mostly For the Evulz), and it's Archie that Roy regards as his real enemy in the film.
  • Driven to Suicide: Betty Sturrock.
  • Duel to the Death: The final duel, with seconds and a referee, and it being explicitly agreed by both parties that it will be to the death.
  • Establishing Character Moment: All the main characters get one to some extent, but the most important one for the audience is Archie's, as it clearly shows that despite his mincing behaviour, he is a devastating fighter.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Pride for Rob. Mary points out that Rob's "honorable" refusal to support Montrose against Argyll (a man he doesn't know and to whom he owes nothing) is a case of pride in his own personal honor over the wellbeing of his family and clan.
    • Cunningham's pride comes out as overconfidence. After soundly defeating Argylle, he turns his back on the man and almost gets backstabbed. He treats Rob as less of a threat than he is and is manhandled by him several times. In the end, he chooses to toy with Rob during their duel rather than finish him quickly.
  • Flowery Insults: The more eloquent characters get in a few good ones, often combined with Sophisticated as Hell. The best might be Archie calling Killearn "a carbuncle on this arse of a country".
  • Flynning: Thoroughly averted in the final duel between Roy and Cunningham. The fight is extremely realistic, notably in that Cunningham (who is wielding a small-sword) stays far from Roy, (who wields a basket-hilted claymore) and is wary of Roy's superior strength, longer reach, and heavier blade. He attempts to do Roy in by Death of a Thousand Cuts, with the goal being to weaken Roy before finishing him off when Roy is too weak to resist. That is a very valid strategy in sword fighting, particularly with such a light weapon, and several recorded duels were fought and won using exactly that method.
  • Fragile Speedster: Cunningham is easily knocked around when his enemies get a hold of him, but is incredibly quick and skilled with a rapier.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Mary apologizes to Rob after telling him she may be pregnant by her rapist, not him, saying she couldn't bring herself to abort. He tells her it's the rapist who needs killing.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Argyll.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Rob's mutually passionate and affectionate sex life with Mary is shown repeatedly, while we see only the aftermath of Archie's liaisons, which clearly mean nothing to him.
  • Hide And No Seek: Rob does this.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Rob Roy was both a murderer and a cattle thief. The movie Rob Roy turns him into a heroic man of impeccable honor, though strangely it still does make passing mention to cattle-thieving. It's also been suggested that the robbery of the loan that kicks off the plot (the character of Cunningham did not actually exist) was carried out by Rob himself- though, more likely, it was carried out by the treachery of one of his own men. He is known to have been guilty of armed robbery, assault, arson, village raids and other misdeeds, in one case taking over a small church and forcing the congregation to strip before stealing their Bibles for no reason other than It Amused Me. Less Lovable Rogue, more plain rogue. However, he was regarded as a generally trustworthy and honourable man when it came to his word, at least.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade:
    • The Marquess of Montrose (Duke at the time the film is set). Archibald Cunningham did not exist, so obviously the real Montrose was not complicit in any of his crimes since they never actually happened. He never did find out who robbed him and he certainly didn't cover it up and frame an innocent man (insofar as the historic Roy was "innocent").
    • Unlike Cunningham, the character of Grahame of Killearn did exist, and did indeed once find Mary and hold her captive- the rape committed by Cunningham is attributed to a legend that Grahame himself was the culprit, and in the film he is at least an accomplice to the deed. However, this rape probably did not occur (and if it did, she definitely never got pregnant by it); Grahame ended up being held captive by Roy at one point later, who treated him courteously- unlikely to happen if he really thought this guy raped his wife.
  • Honor Before Reason: MacGregor. Lampshaded by his wife Mary, who doesn't want to tell him about her rape because she knows he'll go ballistic and do something stupid trying to avenge her, which is entirely the response Archie wanted in the first place.
  • In Name Only: Title aside, this film has virtually nothing in common with Scott's novel, and only slightly more than nothing with actual history.
  • In the Back: After being humiliated in his duel with Archie, Guthrie moves to stab him in the back, only for Argylle to stop and shame him. This serves as an Establishing Character Moment for both men.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Both Archie and and Montrose only care about themselves, with Archie being proactively self-promoting, while Montrose is just so used to getting his own way he seems honestly indignant when things don't go perfectly for him.
    • Mary accuses Rob of this attitude when he prioritises his personal honour over the wellbeing of his family and clan. Rob, after the consequences of his decision have fallen on many people other than him, admits that she was right.
  • It's Personal with the Dragon: In spite of being the Dragon to Montrose, Archibald is the main villain. He robs both Montrose and Rob of their money, murdering one of Rob's closest friends in the process, and later rapes Rob's wife. Montrose doesn't particularly like or trust Archibald, and it's Archibald who Rob ultimately fights to the death in the end.
  • Kick the Dog: Cunningham shoots Rob’s dog when he comes to burn down his house.
  • Leeroy Jenkins:
    • Alasdair gets a group of his clansmen slaughtered when he refuses to follow the plan to use Hit-and-Run Tactics on the small army led by Cunningham, and instead tries to snipe Cunningham at extreme range.
    • Cunningham attempted to provoke Rob into doing this as well, and there's a good chance it would have worked if Mary had not kept silent.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen:
    • Archie's Establishing Character Moment is him winning a duel against Guthrie. He actually fights too much like a gentleman; Guthrie and the crowd get fed up with his overly-long and elaborate salute, provoking Guthrie to make the first move.
    • Humorously averted between MacGregor and a drunken Guthrie in a duel to "the first cut": Rob cuts his hand on Guthrie's extended sword.
    • Played straight between the two later when Guthrie stands in MacGregor's way to Killearn. Rob wins.
    • And, of course, the climactic duel between MacGregor and Cunningham.
      Referee: You are here on a matter of honor. I am here to see that you settle it honorably. There will be no back-stabbing, you will not throw your blades, nor will you use weapons other than those agreed. If quarter should be asked-
      Rob Roy: No quarter will be asked.
      Cunningham: Or given.
      Referee: Attend upon your weapons and commence upon my mark.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Montrose is strongly implied to be Archie's father. Well, he's definitely one of the top three contenders, anyway.
  • Man in a Kilt: Obviously.
  • Master Swordsman: Cunningham is the most skilled swordsman in the film.
  • Mighty Glacier: Rob is slower than Cunningham, but larger and stronger than him.
  • Mugging the Monster: Argyll and Guthrie team up in browbeating Archibald upon their first meeting, causing Archibald to reveal that he's no man to bully.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Archie is a variation; the audience find out in his very first scene that being The Dandy does not stop him being a Master Swordsman, while Rob himself goes into the climactic duel having never seen him in a fair fight before, and (despite warnings from those who have,) badly underestimates his skill.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Or rather, obfuscating foppery. Archibald Cunningham likes to give the impression he's a harmless dandy through his fixation on fashion and courtly manners. Montrose makes use of this to swindle money, placing bets on Cunningham in sword fights, where Cunningham's oblivious opponents quickly discover he's a ruthless and extremely skilled swordsman.
  • Oh, Crap!: Rob gets a gradually increasing one during the final duel, where he begins to see that, despite seeming like a fop and a coward who will only fight with an army at his back, Cunningham is a superb swordsman.
  • Older Hero VS Younger Villain: Our hero Rob is a middle-aged man with a wife and children, while Cunnigham is a youthful villain.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Rob starts to sound noticeably Irish at several points throughout the film.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: Archie is only too happy to tell Rob how much he enjoyed raping Mary, and that he doesn't think "all of her" objected to it.
  • The Power of Hate:
    • Montrose notes "the healing power of hate" when the injured Archie manages his rasp his assent to the final duel.
    • Also invoked as the reason Mary will come out of the burning house to live and hate rather than proudly let herself burn with it.
  • Rape as Drama: Archie raping Mary is a major plot point.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Played with. The audience are clearly meant to see Archie's rape of Mary as further proof of his evil, while many other characters (being products of the time) see it more as an affront to Rob's honour than a vile crime against her. Archie's whole plan relies on the rape not remaining a secret, meaning he's quite willing to be publicly known as a rapist, but doesn't disagree when Killearn advises that there would be "a reckoning" if Mary let herself be burned with her house; "shagging her's one thing, burning her's another".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Argyll has not been involved in any of the skullduggery of the plot and realizes that Rob has made sacrifices to protect him, even if Rob did it for his own reasons, so Argyll helps Rob as best as can.
  • Red Right Hand: As tough and Scottish as he is, Guthrie's rotten teeth (on top of his greasy hair and Perma-Stubble) let us know that he's not someone we should be cheering for.
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: When he meets Rob, Cunningham fondly recalls how good it felt to rape Mary.
  • Royal Rapier: Cunningham's rapier is played as his being fancier and more refined than the earthier Scots with their claymores.
  • Serious Business: Archibald's interest in getting nice clothes, which help him fit in with the aristocracy.
  • Showing Their Work: The swords used in the film are quite period-appropriate, with the English aristocrats favoring gentlemanly dueling short swords and the Scottish men using the basket-hilted heavy claymores of the period.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Rob isn't great with extended swordfights, but he's excellent at ambushing foes with a surprise attack. He kills two opponents with a single stroke, then kills Archie with a surprise attack at the end of their duel.
  • Sissy Villain: Cunningham, the fop, whose motivation for his villainy is buying expensive clothes. However, his mincing behavior is mostly a ruse. In private, he behaves much differently.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Cunningham, who sneers and smirks throughout the movie, having apparently developed his personality from a serious case of inferiority complex, being a bastard at court.
    • Montrose is also an example. Look at that smirk on his face whenever he's talking to Argyll.
  • The Sociopath: Archibald Cunningham is a thief, a philanderer, a rapist and a murderer who makes his way in life off of other peoples' money. Superficially charming enough to get most women into bed, but doesn't give a damn about them beyond sex- including if they kill themselves out of shame afterwards. He betrays and robs his own patron, then gets him to frame another man for his own crime. A smug, spoilt, unloved Psychopathic Manchild who is used to others covering for his misdeeds, he ultimately gets cut in half for his laundry list of crimes and nobody- including his own ally- mourns for him afterwards.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Montrose and Argyll can be appallingly blunt, at times. Right out of the box, we get this conversational gem:
    Montrose: Archibald is sent to me by his mother, in the hope that our climate might cool the fever in his blood.
    Argyll: So, Mr. Cunningham, what are these principal sins that distress your mother? Dice? Drink? Or are you a buggerer of boys?
    Cunningham: It is years, your Grace, since I buggered a boy—and, in my own defense, I must add I thought him a girl at the moment of entry.
    Argyll: (laughs) What say you, Guthrie? That Archie could not tell arse from quim!
    Guthrie: I've heard that many Englishmen have that same difficulty!
  • Stealth Insult: A variation; after Montrose has made a jibe showing he's completely aware that Archie stole the money, and Archie responds that he is quite confident the "thief" has already spent the money, Montrose congratulates him on having such a keen grasp of "a conspirator's" mind. Under the circumstances, though, it's less of an insult and more a joke between them.
  • Sword Drag: Rob, at the end of the duel, when he's almost completely out of strength.
  • Sword Fight: The film ends with one, generally considered the most memorable feature of the film and one of the best sword fights in cinema.
  • The Coats Are Off: Before the final duel, Rob removes his heavy jacket. Cunningham removes his opulent frock coat and, to show he's taking this fight much more seriously than his earlier ones, he also removes his heavy wig, forgoing vanity for not being encumbered.
  • They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Montrose gets this treatment when he is insolently too familiar with an angry Duke of Argyll when the two meet at a gentrified poker salon.
    Montrose: John, you have the look of a man who means to play hard.
    Argyll: Do not presume to speak above your station, sir. I will have my rank from you!
    *soon after Argyll departs*
    Montrose: What pride, to use a fellow peer in public so! Damn his pride! (controlling himself, to his friends) My pardon. Damn His Grace's pride!
  • Too Dumb to Live: Alastair Roy. Shooting at redcoats when they badly outnumber you and you're supposed to be hiding? Not smart.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Rob has only seen Cunningham act like a fop and not put himself in any sort of danger unless he has an army at his back, and as such he is taken completely by surprise when he turns out to be a Master Swordsman. The audience, however, has seen Cunningham's fight with Guthrie, so knows that Rob's in for one hell of a fight.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: For one, the character of Archibald Cunningham never existed and is an invention of the movie; Montrose does exist, but he was a Duke, not Marquess, at the time this film is set, and of course is given a bit of a Historical Villain Upgrade for the movie, just as Roy is given a Historical Hero Upgrade (the real Roy was a cattle thief and a murderer; the former is only vaguely referenced). Incidentally, it has nothing to do with the 1817 novel by Walter Scott, which has a different plot entirely- being based around the Jacobite rebellion (which should have been occurring during the timeline of the movie, but are not mentioned at all)-, not to mention a different protagonist (Rob Roy is more of a Famed In-Story supporting character whom the story revolves around).
  • Victory by First Blood: Rob actually exploits the concept. At the very start of the film Rob and company track down and capture a group of men who had stolen a herd of cattle from a Scottish lord, and Rob kills the leader in a duel. Later in the film Will Guthrie, a friend of the leader of the thieves, comes up to Rob in an inn with his sword drawn, challenging Rob to a duel for revenge. Rob gets Guthrie to agree that the duel be to first blood only, then immediately reaches out, cuts his hand on Guthrie's drawn sword, and "congratulates" the other man on his victory. This handily (no pun intended) satisfies honor and leaves Guthrie no recourse for further revenge while also removing the chances of anyone dying in a duel, either via Rob accidentally killing Guthrie or Guthrie "accidentally" killing Rob by scoring a lethal first wound and then later pretending that he never intended to kill Rob.
  • Villainous Valour: Cunningham tells a man pointing a gun at him that he doesn't have it in him to kill him, and doesn't even flinch when the gun actually goes off. He may be a murdering, raping fop, but he's certainly no coward.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Cunningham is obviously not as physically strong as his opponents Guthrie and Rob, but has far superior sword fighting skill.
  • Wicked Cultured: The Marquess of Montrose loves him his formal gardens.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: Mary is pregnant at the end of the film and there’s no indication whether or not it’s Rob’s or Cunningham.
  • The Worf Effect: We see Guthrie dispatching another swordsman to establish his toughness. Then he spends the rest of the film being beaten by the main characters to show off how badass they are.


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