The Eagle

the eagle title

The obvious choice today of my DVD library for my afternoon-film has been “The Eagle”, just to get into the Hadrian’s Wall-mood. This 2011 film (as 2010’s “Centurion”) talks about the myth of the IXth Legion which supposedly vanished in ancient Caledonia around the year 120. Reality, as happens most of times, is less epical. The story of the disappearance of the IXth, as many others during Roman times, is much more a tale of bureaucracy than heroism. Roman legions changed name, were cancelled or transferred according to the needs or the whims of the emperors. The IXth legion, which was based in Eburacum (current York) in fact disappeared from Britannia the year 120 AD, but to be transferred to Noviomagus Bataviorum (in the Netherlands) and then transferred to the East, in the current Armenia, until the year 135 AD, when it was dissolved by Emperor Hadrian.

To go back to the film, I like some parts of it and find ridiculous others. I like very much the reconstruction of the Roman fort in the beginning of the film. As a curiosity, when I heard in the cinema the dubbed Channing Tatum pronouncing the name of his character (Marcus Flavius Aquila), my jaw dropped a pair of inches, as the protagonist of my still unfinished fanfic and lifelong fatigue is called Marcus Fulvius Aquila. A mere coincidence (Romans were not famous for the variety of their names), but which made me chuckle. As I was saying, I enjoy the arrival of Marcus to his new garrison, the first fight against the Britons and the taestudo formation.

Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila and his men making a taestudo
Centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila and his men making a taestudo

Films do not have to be historical essays to entertain me. I always mention “Gladiator” as a film full of historical horrors and incredible mix-ups which do not impede me to enjoy it and place it in my top ten of favourite movies. Therefore, the horses with stirrups or the improbable architecture of uncle Aquila’s villa were not what made me move nervously in my seat in the cinema or close my eyelids when watching the film after lunch: it’s all the “seal-warriors men” stuff that gets on my nerves and specially the chase to the protagonists, with those tireless Highland Mohawks running faster than horses. Fortunately there is Mark Strong in the screen to make me forget them for a while.

Mark Strong looking a bit too much Al Pacino
Mark Strong looking a bit too much Al Pacino

Mark Strong is the Stakhanovist of the screen. One day, checking my dvd collection I realised that he is one of the top five most present actors in my library. His role in this film, Guern, the ex-Roman legionary of the IXth, is not one of the usual Strong’s characters, the slightly psychotic, but a honest man who regains his honour making  the ultimate sacrifice defending the lost eagle.

I will be off line until Thursday. When I was in London my phone had a problem of communication with British wifis and most of times could not connect. According to the website one of the man commodities in my B&B in Haltwhistle is a wifi network; if it works I will post pictures through Instagram. But, honestly speaking, I need to switch off completely at least for three days and a half. Maybe to compensate the new social media life of Richard Armitage (first rule of Wormwood Scrubs blog: always mention HIM without purpose).


4 thoughts on “The Eagle

  1. this film was based on a children’s book from the 1950s which was actually pretty good (the film got me to read the book). I’m not an expert on the Romans which is maybe why I liked this film, but I thought Jamie Bell was pretty good in it, he got some great lines, and the conflict between the Roman and Jamie Bell’s character despite their relationship was really believable and pretty well done.

    1. I could have written a longer post, but I have a relational problem with my laziness. 😀 Indeed I have liked also the relationship between Marcus and Esca, Jamie Bell makes an incredible work. The problem I have with the “seal-men” part of the film is not related with historical accuracy but with the script. I’m sure that, as always happens, the book is better than the film.

      1. Well, it’s a book aimed at 12 year olds of the 50s — but it makes it clear exactly how complex all of these intercultural and interpersonal relationships are. The book was aimed at a readership that had much more familiarity with the history of the ancient world than kids do now, though.

        The line from the film that sticks out to me is Esca saying to Marcus, “This, too, Rome has done” after a list of horrors that happened to his family. Unfortunately not in the book. However, you see their relationship developing much more in the book whereas in the film I was kind of like, WHY would he go with this guy who might hate him off into the wilds when he’s sort of half-disabled?

      2. Unfortunately it is not easy to explain in a little bit more of an hour and a half such a complex relationship. Books are definitely better to understand the psyche of the characters.

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