Posted in books, historical fiction, movies, writing

I’m Not Over You Yet

That’s right, still deep in the throes of my obsession with the movie “The Eagle.” Maybe I shouldn’t admit that publicly, but to hell with the naysayers. This movie got more than it’s fair share of scathing comments on the internet, and while I can see it’s not the greatest thing ever filmed, neither is it as bad as some make it out. I take comfort in knowing I am not the only one who has been similarly afflicted with a love for this movie. When searching out info on the history of the time period that the story is set in, I noticed some of those baby name sites where mothers-to-be were considering naming their children after Jamie Bell’s character, Esca. The origins of the name seem to be unknown, but there were some good guesses as to where it may have come from.

At it’s core, it’s a buddy movie, a road trip flick, ancient Roman style. Better, it’s a quest. They’re not after the Holy Grail, but something with as much meaning for Marcus Flavius Aquila (Channing Tatum) – the restoration of his family’s good name.

On the road

The two main characters start off less than besties. Through the course of the film and the various threats and life-or-death situations they encounter, they develop a mutual respect and deep friendship. I read that the two actors became real life friends during the filming, and I think that shows in their performances.

I have to say I’m feeling slightly traitorous by deciding to learn Latin, rather than going for Irish at the moment. The movie is set mostly in Scotland, not Ireland, but the Scots were Celts so there’s my connection. I’ll get around to learning the Irish as well, but I am consumed by learning, really learning, about ancient Rome at the moment, and their interactions with the indigenous Britons. Rome never made it to Ireland, Ireland’s troubles would come later.

One thing that I’ve realized I love about this movie is that this is a story that’s seldom told. We’ve had plenty of versions of Robin Hood, King Arthur, the Crusades, lots of medieval fare. Pre-Christian Ireland and Scotland are rarely dramatized. Even Game of Thrones which is huge now is still a ‘medieval’ setting, albeit in a fantasy world. It’s also not Showtime’s “Spartacus,” this film never gets to Rome itself. (There was a short-lived series in 1997 called “Roar” which purported to show the Irish tribes battling the Romans, but it died a deserved death, despite Heath Ledger as the main character.) There’s a deleted scene on the DVD showing Marcus racing a chariot against the local village chariot-maker. Although it was a fun scene I can see why they cut it, but that’s the stuff that’s so fascinating to me: The details of day-to-day life for those ancient Celts (not sure what tribe they were supposed to be right around the Roman garrison there).  Not all interactions between Celts and Romans were antagonistic. This book series could well be mined for a television series. Helloooo Hollywood, someone get on that, ok? Kthxbai. Addendum: The soundtrack is on permanent repeat in my brain now, I think. One of the deleted scenes (the chariot race) has a fantastic Celtic fiddle track that also plays over the closing credits. Happily it is included on the soundtrack CD, even though that scene was cut.

People tend to think of the Celts as a homogeneous group of wild savages who roamed around the British Isles. They were many tribes of peoples, all classified as Celt (the word Celt or Keltoi is first used by Hecataeus of Miletus in 517 B.C.) My own family descends from the Dál gCais or Dalcassians. Here’s an extensive list of the tribes and a map showing what area each one inhabited.

I am so completely captivated by this movie and time period now I find it hard to watch anything else. Part of me yearns to be a legionary and pick up a sword (past life calling?). I feel a little like Christopher Reeve in “Somewhere in Time”, as if I’m trying to wish my way back in time to be with these people. Where’s a TARDIS when you need one? To compensate, I’m dreaming up my own story set in that time. I feel like if I keep digging into this long enough, I’ll remember something, or find something I lost. I have no idea what. I’m haunted. I believe, I believe, I believe…

And I’ll tell you what, I would not want to get on Esca’s bad side.


Esca 2


Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.

13 thoughts on “I’m Not Over You Yet

  1. To hell with the haters – if you love the movie, go ahead and love it! And buona fortuna with the Latin.


  2. Gratias tibi! 🙂 I’m trusting Google’s translator there since I haven’t actually gotten my Latin books yet. It seems a tad formal (thanks be to thee?) but you get the sentiment. I am chomping at the bit, as they say, to really dig into it.


    1. That’s OK; when I said “buona fortuna” I wasn’t sure if I was speaking Latin or Italian – there’s a little overlap there, and you know nearly all of my foreign phrases are picked up from subway ads, chatty students, gossiping relatives, music classes, and other distinctly non-academic sources


  3. Damn straight, MaryJ! You beat me too it!

    DD, people have every right to love, like, or dislike anything. If a thousand people hate that film and you love it…so? If this movie and this time period and Latin are calling to you….embrace them!

    I’m falling in love with Russian now when I should be putting all my efforts into German. shhh! 😉


    1. Gypsy, my mom would tell you that learning any language makes you better at all the other ones – and this is from somebody who speaks 2 languages with no accent at all (well, OK, when she gets angry her English is a little north-Jersey inflected,) and can understand a little bit of Russian and Ukrainian b/c she paid attention when she learned Polish. So enjoy the Russian!


    1. Heh, I’ve often wished the same thing. 🙂 Enjoy the Russian. I watched part of a surreal movie from Russia the other day, “Mermaid” (I think it was shown at the Sundance Film Festival). Subtitles in English, but listening to the Russian was fun. I recommend it if you get a chance to see it. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to watch the entire thing, but it was fascinating, funny, and quite charming.


  4. You certainly know how to pen a review because now I want to see it. I think it’s great when one likes something so much. I know as I get older I’m harder to please. Great Post.



  5. Haha 🙂 Thanks, Susannah! If you see it I hope you like it, but if not, well, everyone’s tastes are different. If nothing else, there’s some nice eye-candy for the ladies 😉


  6. Thanks MaryJ! And your mother was right. Heck, I’m learning a lot more even about my native language since starting my foreign language studies.

    And thank you, DD. I’m going to check around for that film.


    1. In my experience teaching college English, I’ve noticed that a disproportionately large number of my A students have been bi- or tri-lingual. I’m not sure if it’s because they try harder/take it more seriously, or b/c they have experience in the idea of learning language – parts of speech, tenses, cases – the stuff I don’t think they teach so much in American middle schools these days.


  7. I’m glad you loved the movie so much! It’s true, I was a little disappointed by it, because the book on which it is based is one of my favorites (and it happens to be a perfect book, at that) and the movie changed way too many key elements that it shouldn’t have. But it’s still a good movie on its own merits, and I think that the parts you love about it you will also love in the book. The deep sense of place, the vividness of how everyday Roman and Celtic life is portrayed, the friendship between Marcus and Esca. Rosemary Sutcliff (who wrote The Eagle of the Ninth) was a master, and her British landscapes are alive with heather and hawthorn. Her stories are captivating and haunting — in addition to The Eagle of the Ninth, you’ll want to read The Silver Branch and The Lantern Bearers, which are about Marcus’ descendents.

    I think what I like most about the movie are the landscapes and cinematography. The movie was shot with an artistic eye, and it really tries to bring out the wet reality of the land. It feels ancient, but also real, physical, not a glossy postcard like in most Hollywood epics. I initially thought the music was weak because it’s not as interesting to listen to on its own, but on a second and third viewing, I think it complements the images on the screen very well.

    Thanks for your thoughts! If you’re interested, please check out my own reviews of the movie and the book. I write about Sutcliff on my blog now and then, and have referenced The Eagle of the Ninth many times.


  8. Hi David,

    Pleasure to meet you, another fan of this story! 🙂 I so appreciate your comments and thoughts, and yes I do plan to read her books. If I love the movie this much, I’m sure I will love the books more. Books are always better. I often consider the movies more as “inspired by” rather than ‘based on’ the original book, and see them as separate and distinct stories so the differences probably won’t bother me.

    I agree that it was beautifully shot, and I think the movie as a whole is grossly underrated.

    I will say I do love the score, and am listening to it right now as a matter of fact 🙂 And (frighteningly) I’m not done posting about this either, got another post just about ready to go that will be up in a couple of days. I’ll be by to check out your blog for sure.


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