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The Eagle (2011)

aka The Eagle

Directed By: 
Details: 114 mins · English, Scottish Gaelic, Gaelic · PG-13 (USA)


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I will not admit to liking this movie. As far as movies go or historical dramas...this was not the best, but I enjoyed it. I felt like it was based off a book. Movies like those just have that feeling sometimes when they try to keep too close to the book and not make the scenes more cinematic or have much pull on the scenes around them. So, I liked it because it felt like a book and not as much a movie. The casting was odd, but I liked the end result of the relationship between the two main characters. That was my favorite part. Maybe if they had a bigger budget, they could have made it feel more periodic.

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In the year 140 AD, 20 years after the Ninth Legion disappeared in the north of Britain, Marcus Flavius Aquila, a young Roman centurion, arrives in Britain to serve at his first post as a garrison commander. Marcus's father disappeared with the eagle standard of the ill-fated legion, and Marcus hopes to redeem his family's honour by bravely serving in Britain. Shortly afterward, only Marcus's alertness and decisiveness save the garrison from being overrun by Celtic tribesmen. He is decorated for his bravery but honourably discharged due to a severe leg injury.

Living at his uncle's estate near Calleva (modern Silchester) in southern Britain, Marcus has to cope with his military career having been cut short and his father's name still being held in disrepute. Heeding rumours that the eagle standard has been seen in the north of Britain, Aquila decides to recover it. During a fight to the death for entertainment, a Briton (Esca) is defeated by a stronger opponent, but Marcus persuades the crowd to spare the man's life. Despite the warnings of his uncle and his fellow Romans, who believe that no Roman can survive north of Hadrian's Wall, he travels north into the territory of the Picts, accompanied only by his slave Esca. The son of a deceased Brigantes chieftain, Esca detests Rome and what it stands for but also considers himself bound to his master, who saved his life during an amphitheatre show.

After several weeks of travelling through the northern wilderness, Esca and Marcus encounter Guern, one of the survivors of the Ninth Legion, who attributes his survival to the hospitality of the Selgovae tribe. Guern recalls that all but a small number of deserters were killed in an ambush by the northern tribes – including Esca's Brigantes – and that the eagle standard was taken away by the Seal People, the most vicious of the tribes. The two travel further north until they are found by the Seal People. Identifying himself as a chieftain's son fleeing Roman rule and claiming Marcus as his slave, Esca is welcomed by the tribe. After allowing the Seal People to mistreat Marcus, Esca eventually reveals that his actions were a ploy and helps his master to find the eagle. As they retrieve it, they are ambushed by several warriors, including the Seal Prince's father, but Marcus and Esca manage to kill them and escape with the eagle standard. With the aid of the Seal Prince's young son, Esca and Marcus manage to escape the Seal People's village.

The two flee south in an effort to reach Hadrian's Wall, with the Seal People in hot pursuit. Marcus, slowed by his old battle wound, orders Esca to take the eagle back to Roman territory and even grants the reluctant slave his freedom. Freed, Esca still refuses to abandon his friend and instead heads out to look for help. He returns with the survivors of the Ninth legion just as the Seal People catch up with them. The legionaries, wishing to redeem themselves, accept Aquila as their commander and prepare to defend the eagle standard. As an example to those who would betray their people, the Seal Prince kills his young son in front of Esca, Marcus, and the legionaries. He then orders his warriors to attack. A battle ensues, in which the Seal Prince and all his warriors are killed, along with most of the Ninth Legion soldiers. After burying the fallen legionaries – including Guern – Marcus, Esca, and the few survivors of the Ninth return to Roman territory, where Aquila delivers the eagle to the astonished governor in Londinium. There is some talk of the Ninth legion being reformed with Marcus its commander. But when Marcus and Esca wonder what they will do next, Marcus leaves the decision to Esca.

Release Dates:

Theatrical : 2011-02-11 : United States of America

DVD : 2011-06-21