Sir Billi

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Sir Billi
File:SirBilli Poster.jpg
Teaser poster
Directed by Sascha Hartmann
Produced by Sascha Hartmann
Tessa Hartmann
Sean Connery
Written by Tessa Hartmann
Based on Sir Billi the Vet 
by Tessa Hartmann
Starring Christopher Alexander
John Amabile
Sean Connery
Alan Cumming
Patrick Doyle
Kieron Elliott
Greg Hemphill
Ford Kiernan
Miriam Margolyes
Amy Sacco
Music by Patrick Doyle
Shirley Bassey
Billi Productions
Glasgow Animation
Release dates
  • 13 April 2012 (2012-04-13) (Sonoma Film Festival)
  • 2013 (2013)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget £15 million

Sir Billi is a 2012 British computer animated adventure comedy feature film. It was made by Sascha Hartmann and Tessa Hartmann, husband and wife, who currently live in Scotland.[1] Directed by Sascha Hartmann, the film stars the voices of Christopher Alexander, John Amabile, Sean Connery, Alan Cumming, Patrick Doyle and Kieron Elliott.

The film is Scotland's first CGI animated feature film.[2] It was also the final acting role for Sean Connery, who announced his retirement from the motion picture industry after working on the film.[1]

Sir Billi is an adventure about the race to save the last beaver in Scotland, led by Sir Billi; veterinarian by profession, skateboarder by passion and grandfather by love.


An old, skateboarding veterinarian Sir Billi goes above and beyond the call of responsibility fighting villainous policemen and strong lairds in a war to save an illegal fugitive—Bessie Boo the beaver.

Production and distribution

It was produced by Glasgow-based Billi Productions, founded by the Hartmanns.[3] The film was in production for several years, with a 30-minute short film version completed in 2006, but it was expanded to 80 minutes.[4] The total budget was 15 million pounds.[5]

The film premiered on 13 April 2012, at the Sonoma International Film Festival.[6][7] Worldwide distribution rights were acquired by Shoreline in October 2012.[2]

It was scheduled for a limited British release on 13 September 2013 at three cinemas, to be followed by a DVD release.[8]

The film was released in the United States under the alternate title Guardian of the Highlands,[9] which is also the name of the film's title song, sung by Dame Shirley Bassey .[10]

Critical reaction

The negative reaction to the film was widely reported in the British press.[8][11] Variety called it "woefully anaemic", criticising its "simplistic story and non-sequitur style". They pointed out a few in-jokes referencing Connery's past role as James Bond, such as title sequence featuring a Shirley Bassey song that pastiches Bond themes.[12][13]

The Scotsman called it "mirthless" and "rudimentary".[14] Slash Film criticised it as an "ignominious" end to Connery's career, even compared to his previous film, the critically reviled The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.[4] Flayrah called the CG "the ugliest that I have ever seen".[15] Journalist Lisa Summers was also harshly critical of both the CGI and the story.[16] F Bomb Movie Review felt it badly failed to connect with today's children.[17]

Despite the film's negative reception, AM FM Magazine claimed it was well received on its premiere in Sonoma.[18]

Political controversy

There were complaints from the Hartmans when the pro-Scottish Independence Scottish National Party government chose to promote the Disney-Pixar's film Brave, made in the USA, rather than the UK-made Sir Billi.[19] (The film Brave went on to receive an audience score of 76% on the website Rotten Tomatoes, Sir Billi received 0%).

Voice cast


Sascha Hartmann directed Sir Billi from a screenplay written by his wife Tessa, based on an original story they developed together.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Ferguson, Brian (17 April 2012). "Fierce attack on Sir Sean Connery’s final film, Sir Billi". The Scotsman. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kay, Jeremy (3 October 2012). "Shoreline Entertainment acquires worldwide rights to Sir Billi". Screen Daily. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  3. "Sir Sean becomes skateboarder Sir Billi". The Glasgow Herald. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Fischer, Russ (24 June 2010). "WTF: Footage From Sean Connery’s ‘Sir Billi’". Slash Film. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  5. Sterling, Ellen (23 April 2012). "A Triumphant Journey: Sir Billi Travels From Scotland to Sonoma". Huffington Post. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  6. A. Fernandez, Jay (19 March 2012). "Sean Connery Animated Adventure 'Sir Billi' to Premiere at Sonoma Film Festival". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 April 2012. 
  7. "Connery film ‘Sir Billi’ premieres at Sonoma film festival". Napa Valley Register. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Brown, Craig (1 September 2013). "Sean Connery cartoon film heads for DVD oblivion". The Scotsman. Retrieved 1 September 2013. 
  9. Amidi, Amid (26 February 2014). "‘Sir Billi’ Retitled ‘Guardian Of The Highlands’ for U.S. Distribution". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  10. Kemp, Stuart (17 November 2009). "Shirley Bassey, Sean Connery reunite". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 20 November 2009. Retrieved 7 September 2015. 
  11. Bendoris, Matt (18 April 2012). "Sean Connery’s Sir Billi is just too silli". The Sun (UK). Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  12. Debruge, Peter (15 April 2012). "Review: 'Sir Billi'". Variety. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  13. Mills, Rod (23 June 2010). "Sean Connery stars as 'Sir Billi' in amazing new Scottish CGI movie". The Daily Express (UK). Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  14. Film reviews: Rush | Sir Billi | White House Down - The Scotsman
  15. Patten, Fred (3 November 2012). "Can Sean Connery's voice save 'Sir Billi' from its own CGI?". Flayrah. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  16. Summers, Lisa (15 April 2012). "SIFF – Sir Billi". 
  17. "Sir Billi (Review)". F Bomb Movie Review. 15 April 2012. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  18. Thompson, Christine (30 April 2012). "SIR SEAN CONNERY’S SIR BILLI WELL-RECEIVED AT THE SONOMA INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL". AM FM Magazine. Retrieved 22 April 2013. 
  19. Lyons, Beverley (21 April 2012). "Scots moviemaker furious at parliament's backing for rival Disney animation". Daily Record (Glasgow). Retrieved 22 April 2013. 

External links