The University Press Office announced this weekend that on Wednesday, 16 May 2012, Sir Sean Connery, film director Murray Grigor OBE, and Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St Andrews Professor Louise Richardson will be in New York for the US premiere of “Ever to Excel” – the first ever cinematic account of the foundation and development of Scotland’s first University. An extended, nine-minute trailer has been posted on the 600th Anniversary’s website, and it truly strikes the artistic tone that St Andrews deserves. There are further showings of this film scheduled for Thursday, 24 May 2012, in St Andrews and for Thursday, 14 June 2012, in Edinburgh.
The release of the long-awaited 600th anniversary film is an important event for the University, and a crucial element in the awareness-raising that will be key to the success of the 600th Anniversary Appeal. It’s an event that many in the University are keenly awaiting, since the film is as much a profile of life in the contemporary institution as it is a backwards glance at its history. Many members of staff in the University ‘star’ alongside Sir Sean, and have their own parts of the story to tell.
This is true of several members of the Special Collections Department. As guardian of so much of the University’s history, Special Collections was involved from the beginning, with staff being consulted on scripting and the accuracy of the historical narrative, and providing books, documents and photographs for the film, as well as describing them and talking about their significance in front of the camera.
The film’s release is of special significance to us as well, since it is a major plank in the 600th Anniversary Appeal, a key objective of which is to raise funds for a much needed new home for Special Collections. Our own fundraising campaign will soon be stepping up a gear with the publication of campaign literature, and our presence within the film will be an important selling point for our project. We only need £10m: a drop in the ocean compared to the takings of other block-buster movies! The title of the film, like the recently published history of the University, is “Ever to Excel” – none of us in Special Collections have yet seen it, but we all live in hope that it lives up to its name!