Why do the Romans in The Eagle film of Rosemary Sutcliff‘s great historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth speak with American accents? In a lengthy interview in The Guardian newspaper the director Kevin MacDonald explains:
In a reversal of the age-old Hollywood convention, the Romans are played by Americans, and the British by British actors. “To me it makes more sense in every way,” says Macdonald. “When you look at any classical Hollywood film from the 1930s onwards, Brits are always playing the Romans. It was easy to understand. Britain had an empire. Britain was the ex-colonial power. But Americans are the superpower of the world now. America is the empire. They’re the dominant occupying power in Iraq and Afghanistan.” He cites Robert Aldrich’s Ulzana’s Raid, an indictment of the Vietnam war disguised as a western, as a precedent. “It seemed to me you could do something similar today, reflecting on the modern world by telling an ancient story.”
Source: Kevin Macdonald: “I didn’t understand Hollywood” | The Guardian.
- More on The Eagle of the Ninth film and book on this blog
- Trailer for the film The Eagle
- Focus Features microsite on The Eagle film