The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain

The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Christopher Monger
Produced by Bob Weinstein
Harvey Weinstein
Sarah Curtis
Sally Hibbin
Robert Jones
Scott Maitland
Paul Sarony
Written by Ifor David Monger
Ivor Monger
Christopher Monger
Music by

Stephen Endelman

Gwalia Male Choir
Cinematography Vernon Layton
Edited by David Martin
Distributed by Miramax Films
Release dates
  • 12 May 1995 (1995-05-12) (US)
  • 4 August 1995 (1995-08-04) (UK)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $10,904,930

The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain is a 1995 British film with a story by Ifor David Monger and Ivor Monger, written and directed by Christopher Monger. It was entered into the 19th Moscow International Film Festival[1] and was screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 1995 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

The film is based on a story heard by Christopher Monger from his grandfather about the real village of Taff's Well (Ffynnon Taf in Welsh), Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales and its neighbouring Garth Hill. Due to 20th century urbanisation of the area, it was filmed in the more rural Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant and Llansilin in Mid Wales. The Welsh Male Voice Choir used to provide background music throughout the film was, in fact, the London-based Gwalia Male Choir.


The film is set in 1917 (with World War I in the background), and revolves around two English cartographers, the pompous Garrad (Ian McNeice) and his junior, Anson (Hugh Grant). They arrive at the fictional Welsh village of Ffynnon Garw ("Rough Fountain" or "Rough Spring" in Welsh) to measure its "mountain" only to cause outrage when they conclude that it is only a hill because it is slightly short of the required 1000 feet in height. The villagers, aided and abetted by the wily Morgan the Goat (Colm Meaney) and the Reverend Mr Jones (Kenneth Griffith) (who after initially opposing the scheme, grasps its symbolism in restoring the community's war-damaged self-esteem), conspire with Morgan to delay the cartographers' departure while they build an earth cairn on top of the hill to make it high enough to be considered a mountain.



In regard to its humorous and affectionate description of the locals, the film has often been compared with Waking Ned Devine, a comedy film written and directed by Kirk Jones. The movie has resulted in a stream of visitors climbing to the summit of The Garth, and the Pentyrch History Society and the local community council have erected a notice on the mountain to explain its real historical significance.[3]

Welsh language

One of the most obscure jokes in the film occurs when a mechanic is asked about a nondescript broken part he has removed from a car, and replies "Well I don't know the English word, but in Welsh we call it a be'chi'ngalw." In Welsh, be'chi'ngalw is a placeholder name, like "whatchamacallit" or "thingamajig" in English.[4] This is made obvious in the novel of the film.

The 13th episode of Veggie Tales, "King George and the Ducky," contained a brief parody of The Englishman Who Went up a Hill but Came down a Mountain entitled The Englishman Who Went up a Hill and Came Down with All the Bananas.

See also


  1. "19th Moscow International Film Festival (1995)". MIFF. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
  2. "Festival de Cannes: The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain". Retrieved 2009-09-07.
  3. "A book was written about 'Ffynnon Garw' which was made into a film 'The Englishman who went up a hill and came down a mountain'. The location of Ffynnon Garw rather implies it is The Garth. This story is a good one but fictional. To set the record straight the Pentyrch History Society and Community Council have put up an information notice near the summit."
  4. Geiriadur yr Academi / The Welsh Academy English-Welsh Dictionary, University of Wales Press, p.1661
  5. "Survey turns hill into a mountain". BBC News. 19 September 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
  6. Wainwright, Martin (19 September 2008). "The Welshmen who went up a hill, but came down a mountain". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
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