Rosemary Sutcliff’s book The Eagle of the Ninth was much loved by Rachel Cooke, writer for The Guardian and The Observer, which left her with “girlish hope in her heart” as she went to see the film, The Eagle. She spoke of the film on BBC 4 in the UK, on the review programme Front Row, with Mark Lawson.
I went to see this with so much girlish hope in my heart because it was one of my favourite books, and what I feel about it is its a great film on its own terms, but if you were a Rosemary Sutcliff fan I think you might be disappointed by it. It’s not as nuanced as the book, it’s not as tender or as lyrical as the book. It’s a very angry frenetic film, it’s very one note, there’s not much light and shade. It’s a buddy film with axes and bearskins.
Source: Listen at 1.05 minutes here
Are you a Rosemary Sutcliff fan, and what did you think of the film? Do post your reactions and reflections in the comments here; or a longer review at the You Write tab (see at the top of the page) … And if you are not someone who has up to now read Rosemary Sutcliff, I do hope the film leads you to the book, and indeed to The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, two books in a trilogy of Roman novels, all published by Oxford University Press in film tie-in versions.
2 thoughts on “A great film in its own right but … | BBC4’s Front Row reviews The Eagle with girlish hope”
Robert, I would be delighted if you could point me online to any significant reviews in Dutch. Here in the UK the reviews of the film are mixed, but on balance better than in the US I think.
I am far too close to it to be objective. I think ‘based on’ is right and will make sure I use that phrase. But I enjoyed it and felt it had captured a good deal of the essence of the book, if not some of the nuances.
I think once the film makers had decided not to use the Cottia aspect (because it might seem to be just a little gratuitous female interest, as they saw it, unless they dallied long on it?) they could not use Cub and vice versa?
I am a Rosemary Sutcliff fan, and I love the book – it was this book that kindled my love for Roman history, re-enactment, Britain.. so many things. Therefore I was very disappointed that several key figures (Cottia, Cub) were cut from the story. To me, that means the movie is just ‘based on’ the book, no more.
The movie was badly received in The Netherlands, and was shown about 3 weeks in major theatres. For a movie of this kind, that’s a very short time.