Synopsis by Mark Deming
A proud Welsh community finds their civic pride and sense of community threatened by a team of surveyors in this charmingly eccentric comedy. Reginald Anson (Hugh Grant) and George Garrard (Ian McNeice) are a pair of British cartographers with Her Majesty's Ordinance Survey Office, who arrive in the small Welsh town of Ffynnon Garw, where, thanks to a linguistic quirk stemming from the British domination of Wales, many of the citizens in this town lack proper surnames and instead are identified by occupations or personal characteristics, such as Ivor the Grocer (Robert Blythe) or Johnny Shellshocked (Ian Hart). The town's greatest pride and most prominent landmark is a mountain (named, like the town, Ffynnon Garw), which they claim is the first mountain in Wales, and which helped protect the village from any number of Romans, Saxons, Norsemen, and other foreign invaders over the centuries. However, Reginald and George have some bad news for the townsfolk: under British law, a land mass must be at least 1,000 feet tall to qualify as a mountain, and according to their measurements, Ffynnon Garw comes in at only 930 feet, making it just a big hill. The citizens are shocked, insulted, and angry, and after much debate and careful measuring, Anson and Garrard conclude that they did shortchange Ffynnon Garw, but the most generous estimate still puts it at only 984 feet. Convinced that the town's honor and reputation is at stake thanks to these meddling Englishmen, the good people of Ffynnon Garw hatch a plan by which they will add fifteen feet to their "hill;" meanwhile, the easily befuddled Anson finds himself falling under the romantic spell of a beautiful but firm-willed local woman, Betty of Cardiff (Tara Fitzgerald). Believe it or not, this seemingly fanciful comedy was actually based on a true story.
community, bureaucracy, mountains, against-the-system, landmark, map-maker