Kevin Macdonald's THE EAGLE
Movie review by Dennis D. McDonald
Swords, grit, shields, alien lands, culture clashes, honor, heroism, and a cruel empire. Mix wisely with colorful photography, human scale action, crisp editing, and intelligent dialog, and you have THE EAGLE.
Set in 140 AD we follow a Roman soldier as he treks with his slave companion into the wilds north of Hadrian’s Wall to retrieve a golden eagle. The eagle is a military standard lost 20 years before by the soldier’s father, leader of an ill-fated military campaign into the wilds of today’s Scotland.
The soldier’s goal: retrieve the eagle, restore his family’s honor. Simple, right? Of course it isn’t or we wouldn’t have a movie. What makes this movie special, writing as a lover of sword-and-sandal epics since childhood, is its clarity and unstinting focus on human action. Hardware, fabrics, costumes, weapons, campgrounds — all have the ring of a human scale reality where life was brutish and short but where humanity could occasionally break through into the light. As it does here.
Review copyright (c) 2011 by Dennis D. McDonald