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177 of 204 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Centurion!, 9 Jun. 2010
This review is from: Centurion [DVD] (DVD)
The only thing I cannot understand about this film is why on earth it didn't get better publicity, marketing and a broader showing at Cinema's! I had to grub around on the internet to find somewhere, where it was showing and had to drive over twenty miles to get there, when there is a perfectly good multi-screen Odeon in the local town. Like Moon another British film, Cinema's let us down on the distribution.

The film starts with a man running/falling over a snowy mountain, hand's tied clearly trying to escape from someone who is pursuing him. It then goes to a scene of relaxing Roman soldiers drinking and fighting with each other, before, the next day, they are sent North to sort out the rebelious barbarians.

It turns out that the running man is the survivor of an attack by the Picts (Scots locals) of a remote Roman Fort which is overan and destroyed and the Centurion captured.

The 9th Legion (the drinkers and fighters) are despatched into the snowy North determined to bring the locals to heel but their plans lay in ruins when the Picts ambush their column and all but kill every soldier except for a few survivors.

What follows is a race back to the border and to safety for the Romans and a chase by the Picts who are determined to kill each and every Roman after their tribal Chief's son was killed by the invaders.

All in all this is a very underated, under sold, very well made, well acted, directed and produced film which provides one possible answer as to the fate of the 9th Legion. Where as Gladiator had all the Hollywood fluff and effects, Centurion has the down to earth grit and reality of how it would have been and is more realistic.

If you are interested in this period of time, Romans, Roman Britain, you will undoubtably enjoy this film and add it to your collection. There is lots of sword play and head lopping and a great deal of barbarity! Smashing! There maybe some continuity errors such as armour 'segmented' v 'chainmail' for the period but it's a film not a documentary!
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Showing 1-10 of 39 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 22 Jun 2010, 23:19:41 BST
Last edited by the author on 22 Jun 2010, 23:21:27 BST
I have to agree, even though I haven't seen the film. My local Cineworld (Chester) had details of it in their foyer but never showed it. I saw a trailer online and enquired with customer services as to if it was going to be shown and if not, why not.

Well, the reason it wasn't shown was due to the number of copies that the DISTRIBUTORS send out to the cinemas. Not enough. So its clear as crystal that if the British film industry wants to get its films seen by more people in this country, they need to find decent distributors who send out plenty of copies! Come on, it's not rocket science!

I'll be buying it as I like that era of our history, it looks good, has a good cast and a great director.

In reply to an earlier post on 23 Jun 2010, 10:04:24 BST
Je Salter says:
Thank you for taking the time to reply. You are exactly right about the British film Industry and it's just not good enough. Centurion although not as glossy as Gladiator, is probably more realistic and the historical content is accurate regarding the clothing, weapons and equpiment.

It also gives a possible answer to what happened to the fabled missing 9th legion who vanished in Briton. Films like this, Moon and even more recently The Black Death are not getting the opportunities they should purely because they are British! Not good enough by far. Thanks again!

In reply to an earlier post on 5 Jul 2010, 11:45:09 BST
Last edited by the author on 5 Jul 2010, 11:48:47 BST
Ben Kane says:
Good review, Je Salter, although I have to say that I was disappointed by what I hoped would be a great film. I loved the director's first film, Dog Soldiers, and while Centurion had the same gritty feel, for me the story lacked that vital 'je ne sais quoi' factor. Although the equipment wasn't bad, leather bracers on the forearms are NOT accurate! 3.5 stars out of 5.

Just to note that the film's suggestion (something that is very widely believed in the UK) that the 9th Legion was wiped out in Caledonia is nowadays considered most unlikely by the majority of academics. Several of the 9th Legion's senior officers were mentioned in other parts of the Empire after AD 117. A sub unit of the legion was also mentioned after this time, which proves that these men weren't killed in Caledonia (therefore the legion couldn't have been annihilated). It is more likely that the Ninth was wiped out in Judaea in the 130s AD, or Cappadocia, or even on the Danube in the 160s AD.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Jul 2010, 08:16:11 BST
Je Salter says:
Thanks for the comments Ben. I understand fully what you are saying. Anything that's virtually accurate about this period, is always worth watching, reading etc!

In reply to an earlier post on 28 Jul 2010, 14:36:52 BST
C.Elder says:
Nicely written review,but I couldn't get over the lack of historical accuracy in everything from the weapons and tactics of the legion, to the portrayal of the Picts as anything other than small bands of unaffiliated nomadic tribes largely grouped around specific families(they continued as "clans" later).As Britain has some of the best and brightest classical scholars and historians who are experts on Roman history,I am afraid the scorn heaped on the movie by these (and into the media as a result )effectively killed off the film.Perhaps ,in America,where no one knows anything about history and where a gullible public can be persuaded by a movie that it was the Americans who stole the Enigma coding machine etc along with all the other historical distortions that serve hollywood,this film might find an audience.But in educated Britain,it was shot down in flames for its poor historical accuracy.Maybe Marshall will be inspired to not take such liberties if he does another film that is set in the past?

In reply to an earlier post on 29 Jul 2010, 08:05:57 BST
Last edited by the author on 29 Jul 2010, 08:14:24 BST
Je Salter says:
Thanks for taking the time to comment. There are some irregularities in the film but I enjoyed it all the same. The Romans did proceed north of Hadrians wall with an army 40 000 strong with their African Emperor and son in an attempt to defeat the Picts and British who had moved north to resist the Romans. Forts and defences have been uncovered along their route and more are being found all the time.

The locals because they lived tribally and in small groups, could not be brought to battle as the Romans liked and so the Emperor, I think his name was Severus who was actually born in Lybia (maybe wrong) gathered together a group of Chieftans, declared victory over the north and then retreated.

Soon after arriving back at York the Emperor died and his son abandoned any further attempt to try and defeat those north of Hadrains wall. Archaelogy has also dicovered that the 'northerners' were far from the barbarians they were previously believed to be after excavations of sites.

A film accurately portraying Vindolanda would be great because scripts, letters and accounts written at the time have been found.

Posted on 16 Aug 2010, 20:32:30 BST
The Picts were not Scots. The Scotii was the latinized name given to a Goidelic tribe that migrated from Ireland to Scotland. The Picts were a confederation of indigenous Britons with a Brythonic language.

Posted on 23 Aug 2010, 22:05:45 BST

For those who want to avoid the continued fantasy speculation of Roman academics with regard to the Ninth Legion, the above link may prove enlightening.

In reply to an earlier post on 24 Aug 2010, 09:23:39 BST
Last edited by the author on 24 Aug 2010, 09:27:23 BST
Ben Kane says:
I don't think that there's any fantasy in the evidence from academics who have shown that vexillations of the Ninth served in Njimegen in AS 121, after the Ninth's supposed disappearance in Scotland, or the evidence that senior officers of the Ninth served in other parts of the Empire after this time either.
I quote from an article on the excellent website livius.org (which only utilises information from classical sources):
"However, more recent research has shown that (a subunit of) the ninth legion was for a brief period after 121 at Nijmegen in Germania Inferior. (At the same time, VI Victrix moved from Germania Inferior to Britain. Did they trade places?) The fact that we know the names of several high officers of the Ninth who can not have served earlier than 122 (e.g., Lucius Aemilius Karus, governor of Arabia in 142/143), is another indication that the legion was not destroyed but transferred. This proves that it was still in existence during the reign of Hadrian."
See the link to the livius website in my post above.

Posted on 4 Sep 2010, 20:18:20 BST
Same here, i've not yet seen the film as i missed it when i showed for (literally) a few days at the nearest cinema to me, which was 35 miles away in Bristol! Sadly, i expect that its no fault of the British film industry, probably more to do with greedy multiplexes and the complex management hierarchy of them. This meant that they only show films which have cost many millions to make (from certain film companies c/w their distributors), and which have the right producers with the right connections. I'm think in the film industry its who you know, and how much money you have. I liked Dog Soldiers and The Descent so am hoping this one is good also
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Je Salter

Location: UK

Top Reviewer Ranking: 151,025