The Eagle of the Ninth film (Rosemary Sutcliff book) make-up artist said that The Eagle of the Ninth was ‘great because we had a pretty loose historic brief, so we were able to come up with the tribal styles and be really creative’. Rosemary Sutcliff did detailed tight research so not too loose or not too creative I trust. I do hope he read the book. He would have discovered in Chapter Ten, ‘The Whistler in the Dawn’, that Marcus (the Roman) and Esca (his slave) crossed and re-crossed ‘from coast to coast’ the ‘abandoned Province of Valentia’ … ‘making steadily northward’. They encountered a singer from the ‘Painted People’.
In the light of the fire his body and arms were covered all over with bands of tattooing after the manner of the Painted people. Even on his cheeks and forehead and the wings of his nostrils the blue curves and spandrils showed.
Not at all a particularly loose starting-point! Indeed, Rosemary Sutcliff usedthe word ‘spandril’ which is a very particular shape, a ‘triangular surface bounded by the outer curve of an arch and the adjacent wall’ (Oxford Dictionary). Whether direct from her research and reading, or indirectly from her research-steeped imagination, this is no ‘loose’ starting point.
Happily , Graham Johnston judges The Eagle of the Ninth a ” great production … It’s a proper epic … I think it will be big when it’s out”.