Macdonald begins Ninth Legion film
It was back in May of 2007 that I wrote about Kevin Macdonald, the director who had made such a great impact with The Last King of Scotland (Filmstalker review), looking to make a film about the Roman Ninth Legion, the most revered Roman Legion who were considered one of the Roman's greatest fighters, who were the last Legion to enter Scotland never to be heard of again.
At that point we had already heard that Neil Marshall was going to make a film about the same subject, a film that he's currently making called Centurion, and the thought of this story, The Eagle of the Ninth, seemed to fall by the wayside.
Jamie Bell is already signed up to star with Channing Tatum currently in talks, according to Variety, so the project is most definitely alive and well, unlike the Legion were when they met the Scottish.
Back in 2007 he told how he had loved the story when he read it as a child and described it as a Scottish western mixed with an epic costume drama and The Searchers. It will remain to see if the manages to get the budget to make that come true, but with the cast that's already being talked about perhaps he could. Here's what else he had to say:
"I am definitely going to return to Scotland to direct a film version of The Eagle Of The Ninth. It is a book that I absolutely loved as a child...We are beginning to think about the cast and the idea is to use American actors for the Romans and to use Scots and other Celts for the Pictish people."
Rosemary Sutcliff wrote The Eagle of the Ninth (Amazon.co.uk / Amazon.com) which tells the story of a young Roman officer who tries to discover the truth behind what happened to the famed Ninth Legion, a famed fighting force in the Roman Army who were stationed at the border with Northern Britain and just disappeared, never to be seen again, not a single one.
It's a fascinating story from the small blurb that there is, and with two British directors tackling the subject how could you not be interested? Especially when one is as strong as Macdonald and is from Glasgow - his ancestors may even be responsible for the disappearance of the Legion!
While Neil Marshall's Centurion will be concentrating on their actual disappearance, Macdonald's will be set some fifteen years later and looking back on events, essentially telling the same story however. I wonder if there will end up being strong similarities.
One great thing about the film is that it will shoot all the Scottish scenes in Scotland (and perhaps give me the opportunity for a set visit and help promote Scottish film), however the English scenes look set to be shot in Hungary in the second century, I'm not sure if that's a financing decision or that the scenery genuinely looks older in Hungary than it does in England.