Directed by David Blair
Written by Ronald Frame
Starring Tim Spall (as Maitland)
Lantern Bearers is a coming of age story based upon the novel by Ronald Frame. The film which echoes the Go Between in tone is set in the Scottish Highlands where Euan Bone, a young composer, lives with his partner Douglas Maitland. Bone is struggling with a major work based on The Lantern Bearers, an essay by Robert Louis Stevenson. The story is told by a Neil now 35 and gravely ill who as as a 14-year-old, visited the village where Bone lived. Bone was searching for a boy treble to sing for him and help inspire the composing process and young Neil ends up as his muse, singing for him every afternoon.
The relationship between Bone and the boy develops from a professional one to one of mutual affection. Neil describes his feelings. Maitland becomes more and more upset by Bone’s love for Neil and his behaviour becomes erratic. Neil is then cursorily rejected by Bone when his voice breaks this has a traumatic effect on the boy. Neil cannot understand or accept the rejection and follows Bone around the village. Bone ignores him. Neil’s obsession leads him to steal the manuscript of the Lantern Bearers and plant it in Maitland’s car (having lovingly copied it) and this spontaneous adolescent action accelerates the breakup the Bone/Maitland partnership. Neil ultimately is driven to invent a rumour against Bone. Alerted by Neil’s father, the police pursue Bone, who tragically dies.