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Documentary Review: “The Last Keeper” – Thomas Opre, Again Shining Light on an Important and Often Overlooked Issue.



Thomas Opre, renowned for his wildlife documentaries that explore overlooked subjects, once again turns his lens to new terrain in “The Last Keeper.”

Having previously captivated audiences with the 2021 documentary “Killing The Shepherd,” set in the safaris of Zambia, Opre’s focus now shifts to the glens of Scotland. In this latest offering, he delves into the ongoing struggle over land, exploring how these disputes affect both people and the environment.

The Last Keeper” opens with a sweeping historical overview of Scotland, a land romanticized for its bloody feuds, warfare, and forced displacements. These historical tensions, Opre suggests, still echo in today’s conflicts over land ownership and usage. The film skillfully juxtaposes these historical narratives with contemporary issues, setting the stage for a deeper exploration of the socio-economic factors fueling this modern-day war.

Opre‘s approach in “The Last Keeper” is meticulous and comprehensive. He doesn’t shy away from the complexities of the subject matter, instead diving headfirst into the nuanced debates over land stewardship. The film presents a balanced perspective, acknowledging the validity of various stakeholders’ interests while highlighting the ambiguities surrounding the true custodians of the land. This balanced approach is one of the film’s strengths, as it allows viewers to form their own opinions based on the evidence presented.

Throughout the film, Opre includes interviews with a diverse range of individuals, each offering unique insights into the land conflict. Retired gamekeepers Peter Fraser and Derek Calder share their historical perspectives and challenges, while current gamekeepers like Scott Mackenzie, Ed Jaundrel, Michael Ross, and Alex Jenkins provide a contemporary view of their work. These interviews reveal the gamekeepers’ dedication to preserving wildlife populations and managing the land sustainably. Alex Jenkins, in particular, discusses his decision to retire early, adding a personal touch to the narrative.

Opre also includes candid interviews with the gamekeepers’ families, who share the sacrifices and challenges of supporting their loved ones in such demanding roles. These personal stories add depth to the film, humanizing the broader socio-economic and environmental issues at play.


The film doesn’t shy away from the political dimensions of land management either. Opre highlights well-meaning ecological movements, the controlled culling of deer populations, and efforts to maintain balanced ecosystems. The film explains the rationale behind these practices, such as keeping grouse and Red Deer populations at sustainable levels to prevent ecological imbalances. It also touches on the cultural significance of grouse hunting season in Scotland, where approximately 260,000 animals are legally culled each year, attracting tourists to local restaurants to sample the game.

Visually, “The Last Keeper” is stunning. The cinematography showcases Scotland’s breathtaking vistas, hills, and valleys across various seasons, reminding viewers of the land’s natural beauty and the importance of its preservation. Every frame is a testament to the country’s majestic landscapes, reinforcing the film’s underlying message about the need to protect these natural wonders.

The film is accompanied by a powerful score that adds a sense of urgency and foreboding to the narrative. The music enhances the emotional weight of the subject matter, drawing viewers deeper into the story.

Despite its strengths, “The Last Keeper” may not appeal to all viewers. Its complex subject matter and detailed exploration of land disputes require a level of engagement and interest that might be challenging for some.

It’s a rewarding, thought-provoking movie if one can dedicate attention to it and can be appreciated as a compelling documentary that shines a light on an important and often overlooked issue. Thomas Opre‘s careful and balanced approach, combined with stunning visuals and a powerful score, makes this film a must-watch for those interested in socio-economic problems and issues related to the environment.

While it may not be for everyone, it successfully covers its ambitious subject matter and leaves viewers with much to ponder. And for that, I would score this documentary 3 out of 5 stars.

Second on my list of addictions is Movies.. the only thing I could possibly love more is my Dearest Waakye lol. Nothing else does a better job of reminding me that ANYTHING is possible with the right amount of effort. I have great eye for details and flaws in scripts. Shallow scripts bore me. I am an avid reader. Your everyday Mr Nice guy. Always the last to speak in a room full of smart people. Half Human, half Martian but full MOVIE FREAK.

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