Born from Kevin Macdonald’s direction, The Eagle is the screen adaptation of “The Eagle of the Ninth” written and published by Rosemary Sutcliff in 1954. In the novel like in the film the background theme is the Ninth Spanish Legion’s supposed disappearance during the conquest of Britain in the ll century. It’s a historical film for the setting and an adventure film for what the protagonist will face later. It was 120 a.C. when the Ninth Spanish Legion disappeared in north Britain with the Roman Eagle standard. Twenty years later, in 140 a.C., the legion commander’s son: Marcus Flavius Aquila (Canning Tatum), becomes centurion and assigns his command to an outpost in Britain to make light on the old story. Losing the Roman Eagle standard meant for a roman commander to dishonor the legacy of belonging and to inflate the family’s name, so much that the legion was obliterated and forgotten. The young man gains respect from his soldiers, for his particular  commander quality and considerable courage in battle, but has to give up because of a wound. He’ll know that the Eagle standard has been used by some barbarians as a worship object. He says that he wants to go to Hadrian’s Wall that separates the roman civilized Britain from the local tribes wilde Britain, to get the Eagle back and liberate his father’s name from shame. He saves Esca’s life (James Bell) -a young gladiator- during some gladiator games who later helps him in his research to pay him back for his goodness, in change of freedom. Esca was a Celtic tribe header’s son, so he can guide Marcus through North Britains desolate and impervious lands.

The film was distributed in US cinemas in February 2011 and in September of the same year in Italy. The two famous protagonists are: Channing Tatum surely remembered from the female audiance for “Magic Mike” of 2012 or for “The Hateful Eight” and Jamie Bell in the role of Esca, he made his first appearance in the cinema world as protagonist in “Billy Elliot”.



  •  In 120 a.C. they speak of the disappearance of the 9th Legion, whose fate has remained unknown for a long time, so much to be a motif of legends. In the 1970s, some inscriptions where found, and that meant that the whole legion had probably been transferred to Germany before and then to the East until it was officially removed in 162 AD: therefore the “disappeared” legacy, did not really disappeared.
  • Director Macdonald has made some changes to Sutcliff’s novel, although the plot remains very faithful:
  1. The female character of Cottia was deleted: in this case, the film character of Esca would be the merging of the literary characters of Esca and Cottia;
  2. In the novel, Marcus succeeds in relying on the recovery mission of Aquila, while in the film he is forced to hide the mission;
  3. The Ninth Spanish Legion will be reconstructed in the final of the film, while in the novel it will not happen because Rome will consider it irremediably dishonored.
  • When filming, in a scene, the two protagonists had to eat fake mouses: according to the director, they had to be made of rubbery jelly, often used on these occasions. The two actors, however, did not seem to be of the same opinion, so much that they found themselves on the point of vomiting, so the scene came out very well.


Tiziano Padovani

Translator Samira Loser