The Eagle of the Ninth Legion (film)

The Eagle of the Ninth Legion ( The Eagle ) is aBritish-American peplum directed by Kevin Macdonald . This is an adaptation of the novel The Eagle of the Ninth Legion ( The Eagle of the Ninth ) by Rosemary Sutcliff , itself inspired by a historical enigma, the supposed disappearance of the ninth Roman legion in northern Scotland at the beginning ofii th century AD 1 . The film was released on February 11, 2011 in the United States 2 .


In 140 AD, at the time of the Roman Empire , a young centurion , Marcus Aquila, tries to lift the mystery that hangs over the disappearance of the ninth legion Roman, which occurred twenty years earlier, and which was commissioned by his father. To this end, Aquila travels to the north of Britain in the company of a slave, Esca, who owes her life. Both venture beyond the wall of Hadrian , to Caledonia , where they face the tribes Picts. Aquila is determined to find the emblem of the legion, the Roman eagle, disappeared in Pictish territory at the same time as his father. During his trip, Aquila meets a local tribe, the “seal people” of which he becomes the prisoner. Thanks to Esca, who pretended to betray him to deceive the seal people, Marcus retrieves the eagle and the two men run away. The “seal people” chase after them. A final battle takes place, Marcus has the unexpected support of survivors of the th Legion and in the company of Esca became his friend, he can bring the eagle in Rome. He is then proposed to rebuild the legion.

Technical sheet

  • French title: L’Aigle of the Ninth Legion 3
  • Original title: The Eagle
  • Director: Kevin Macdonald
  • Scenario: Jeremy Brock 1
  • Music: Atli Örvarsson and Dave Fleming
  • Casting: Hamilton and Jina Jay
  • Director of Photography: Anthony Dod Mantle
  • Editing: Justine Wright
  • Artistic Direction: Peter Francis , Neal Callow and Zsuzsa Kismarty-Lechner
  • Costumes: Michael O’Connor
  • Visual Effects Supervisors: John Lockwood and Steve Street
  • Producer: Duncan Kenworthy
  • Co-producer: Caroline Hewitt
  • Executive Producers: Miles Ketley , Charles Moore and Tessa Ross
  • Production: Focus Features , Film4 , Toledo Productions
  • Budget: $ 25 million
  • Languages: English , Scottish Gaelic (for some dialogues)
  • Genre: Peplum
  • Duration: 114 minutes


  • Channing Tatum (VF: Axel Kiener ) (VQ: Frédérik Zacharek ) : Marcus Flavius Aquila
  • Jamie Bell (VF: Benjamin Bollen ) (VQ: Hugolin Chevrette ) : Esca
  • Donald Sutherland (VF: Bernard Tiphaine ) (VQ: Vincent Davy ) : Aquila (Marcus’ uncle)
  • Mark Strong (VF: Eric Herson-Macarel ) (VQ: Patrick Chouinard) : Lucius Caius Metellus 4 / Guern
  • Denis O’Hare (VF: Nicolas Married ) (VQ: Thiéry Dubé) : Lutorius
  • Tahar Rahim : the prince of the Seal people
  • Dakin Matthews : Claudius
  • Douglas Henshall : Cradoc
  • Jon Campling : a New Caledonian mountaineer
  • Julian Lewis Jones : Cassius
  • Paul Ritter : Galba
  • Lukács Bicskey : the shaman
  • Jamie Beamish : a legionnaire
  • Ben O’Brien : a camp guard
  • Brian Gleeson : a New Caledonian
  • Walter Van Dyk : a patrician


Filming began on August 24, 2009 and was completed entirely on site in Scotland and Hungary 1 . For scenes filmed in Scotland, the production moved to Film City in Glasgow , and turned especially north of Ullapool in Wester Ross, and around Loch Lomond 5 . Production also moved to the village of Achiltibuie, on the west coast of Scotland, opposite the Summer 6 Islands .

Around the film

Kevin Macdonald wanted to stage the confrontation between the Roman culture of Marcus Aquila and the cultures of the tribes living in the region at the time, the Picts but also other Celtic tribes; these tribes, including the Picts , being very poorly known, it had a certain freedom to provide reconstruction 6 . In order to put in place a contemporary symbolism, the Romans are all played by Americans, while the local tribes are played by Scots 6 . The local tribes appearing in the film speak Gaelic . This detail is historically inaccurate, because the Gaelic was introduced in Scotland at the iv th century: it is more likely that at the time of the film, the Celtic tribes spoke the Picte , another language of the family of Celtic languages , but very different from Gaelic 5 . Kevin Macdonald nevertheless chose Gaelic to intimate the near equivalent of the languages of the region 6 . In addition to the Gaelic language, Macdonald was also interested in ancient Celtic dance and music, using instruments such as carnyx 6 .

The Eagle broadly the same subject that Centurion of Neil Marshall , released in 2010. However, The Eagle is a screen adaptation of The Eagle th legion of Rosemary Sutcliff , a classic of children’s literature in Great Britain , published in 1954 7 . The two films have in common to treat the theme of confrontation between an imperialist army and local people and indirectly develop a political reflection on conflicts like the war in Afghanistan 2000s 7. Like the crepuscular Westerns, which denounced the attitude of the United States in Vietnam , this film denounces American imperialism by comparing it to the Roman Empire .


Reception in Anglo-Saxon countries

The film is released in the United States on February 11, 2011, and in the UK on March 25. It receives in these two countries a critical warm welcome: on May 3, the review site Rotten Tomatoes gives an average of 5.4 on a scale of 10, based on 133 reviews 8 , while the Metacritic site gives it a score of 55 out of 100 based on 35 press reviews 9 .

Box office

  •  Global : $ 40 million 10
  •  United States : $ 20 million
  •  France : $ 2.1 million (225,000 admissions)

Notes and references

  1. ↑ a , b and c “The Eagle of the Ninth Starts Principal Photography”, article on the site, August 24, 2009  [ archive ] . Accessed st February 2011.
  2. ↑ (in) The Eagle of the Ninth Legion [ archive ] on the Internet Movie Database . Accessed st February 2011.
  3. ↑ Film sheet on allociné  [ archive ] . Page accessed March 23, 2011.
  4. ↑ This is also a historical error. This character carries two praenomina – Lucius and Caius – but no cognomen, Metellus being a gentile name very common under the Republic.
  5. ↑ a and b “Hollywood searches for Gaelic child star”, article by Brian Pendreigh in the Sunday Times , August 2, 2009  [ archive ] . Accessed st February 2011.
  6. ↑ a , b , c , d and e “Kevin Macdonald will bring to film pre-Celtic clash of cultures,” article by Magnus Linklater in the Sunday Times , August 3, 2009  [ archive ] . Accessed st February 2011.
  7. ↑ a and b Centurion kicks off British sword and sandals movie wave, article by Charlotte Higgins in the Guardian , April 22, 2010  [ archive ] . Accessed st February 2011.
  8. ↑ sheet of the movie on Rotten Tomatoes  [ archive ] . Page accessed on May 3, 2011.
  9. ↑ sheet of the movie on Metacritic  [ archive ] . Page accessed on May 3, 2011.
  10. ↑  [ archive ]

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