Peter Callela recalls Rosemary Sutcliff’s “wonderful, classic The Eagle of the Ninth” and notes that now the new film The Eagle will be released in the USA on February 11, 2011. (It will be mid-March in the UK: please let me know anyone who knows timing in other countries). He writes that “ever since word got out that this adaption was being produced, I’ve been excited about seeing how Sutcliff’s literary material gets translated to the screen, and now that the official trailer has been released, it looks like there is reason to be optimistic.
Although I enjoyed Centurion despite its obvious shortcomings, purely as an action movie, that film was definitely light on the history, for both scholars and wargamers alike. The scenes shown in The Eagle trailer though indicate that this film is going to be faithful, at least in spirit if not in all the particulars, to the novel, which is a much more serious work than Centurion was. And it also looks like the producers made some serious efforts, even with a limited budget, of trying to be as historically accurate as possible. Yes, the Romans are wearing the Hollywood-ubiquitous leather armor, but thumbing through my copy of the novel, I found this line – “There was a Cohort of leather-clad Auxiliaries on the road today…”, so the kit in the film actually matches the language in the novel.
Sutcliff obviously assumed that Auxiliaries would be equipped less lavishly then Legions, and that probably was not unreasonable of her. So this may actually be a production of a quality to not only satisfy people who enjoy independent-type films, but also Ancient wargamers alike. And the scene where the Romans march out of their fort to confront an Ancient British warband before forming testudo in the face of a chariot assault, looks just like it was lifted right off the pages of the book. If this production doesn’t blow it, The Eagle has the potential of being a Sword-and-Sandal classic. I can’t wait.
If this film is successful at the box office, my next hope is that an adaptation of Wallace Breem’s “Eagle in the Snow” will also get produced someday ….
I commented to him:
Enjoyed reading your post. As Rosemary Sutcliff’s literary executor, and more importantly a close family member who grew up knowing her and her writing at first hand, I too await the film, and audiences reactions, with anticipation. (see http://www.rosemarysutcliff.wordpress.com )
I have had the privilege in the last few days of seeing not just the trailer but the film. It is indeed very ” … faithful, at least in spirit if not in all the particulars, to the novel”. In fact, in its attempts to “be as historically accurate as possible” it is also true to the spirit of Rosemary Sutcliff, whose attention to research and accuracy was legendary.
It is a production of “quality”, and I fervently hope one that will past the test of the expert and interested scrutiny of you and your fellow Ancient wargamers, as well as my less expert eyes.