Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth is a book, radio play, TV drama, film, movie and maybe a Western!

Poster of the film The Eagle from the book The Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff

Rosemary Sutcliff’s book The Eagle of the Ninth is the basis for The Eagle film (2011) which was released on February 11th in the USA & Canada, March 25th in the UK, and has been released wold-wide in recent weeks. Rosemary Sutcliff is billed as ‘co-writer’ of the film with Jeremy Brock. The director Kevin Macdonald has spoken of The Eagle of the Ninth and the film The Eagle as ‘a Western‘. Rosemary Sutcliff loved that genre of films, although Kevin was not aware of this until I told him  during one day of filming. 

The Searchers film posterDuncan Kenworthy (the producer) and I shared memories of the book The Eagle of the Ninth as one of our favourite childhood novels. I pleaded with him to let me do it, and he finally gave in. There has been this glut of huge-scale sword and sandal movies, but we want to do this in a very gutsy, visceral way. I see it as a Western – it’s ‘The Searchers’ meets ‘Apocalypto‘ set in Scotland, where the landscape is the dominant production value.
Source: Kevin Macdonald scouting the Eagle

Interestingly, one reviewer in particular picked up on the Western connection:

For those of you still wrestling with whether to see “The Eagle”, I think it is a fair statement to compare it to such classic early American westerns as “A Man Called Horse” (1970) and “A Man in the Wilderness” (1971). Both starred the late Richard Harris as an American trapper and explorer forced to come to grips with the indigenous people whose land he was invading. In The Eagle, Tatum goes through the same metamorphosis as he sees first hand the destruction that Rome has visited on local tribes in the name of glory and conquest.
Source: Movie Review – The Eagle – Hammervision.

Author: Anthony Lawton

Chair, Sussex Dolphin, family company which looks after the work of eminent children’s & historical fiction author Rosemary Sutcliff (1920-92). Formerly CEO, chair & trustee of various charity, cultural & educational enterprises in UK.

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