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Dreadful, historically inaccurate version of classic book
on 5 September 2011
I had some hopes for this film, which purports to dramatise Rosemary Sutcliff's classic children's novel 'The Eagle of the Ninth' about a wounded Roman officer who infiltrates the tribes beyond Hadrian's Wall with the aid of his freed British slave in order to locate the lost Eagle standard of his father's legion. The first half hour was fairly gripping, with great attention to historical detail although clearly influenced by 'Gladiator' rather than the book. From there, it rapidly descended into farce as our hero elected to cross the badly depicted Wall without learning the Celtic language, establishing his cover (travelling oculist) or freeing his slave. The journey jumps straight from the brief track beyond the Wall gate (nonsense) to the West Highlands, where sealskin clad savages with stone weapons still hold sway (nonsense). The plot has essentially ceased to bear any resemblance to Sutcliff's book or historical reality. The latter part of the film is a cold, wet chase through the Highlands during which our hero finally decides to free his slave & fights his way out of trouble with the self-redeeming aid of legionary deserters gone native. I saw the film in the cinema with a couple of expert friends, & its screening was attended by muffled exclamations of 'oh Jesus!' & occasional snorts of laughter as each new howler made its appearance. If you have any interest in either Sutcliff's book or historical accuracy, avoid this film like the plague. Unless you fancy a laugh...