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.
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 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).