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Monday, March 26, 2018

The Eagle Of The Ninth - Novel and TV Show

I’ve just finished rereading Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel, which put me in the mood to watch the six part TV series with Anthony Higgins. I have seen the movie, which I liked more than I thought I would, due to the music and the landscape,  but which was really not faithful to the book.

I remembered the show from many years ago and wondered if it would hold up. It did. I’ve seen Anthony Higgins in other things. He has done a number of villain roles and he was an amazing Laurence Olivier in Darlings Of The Gods, a TV mini series about Olivier’s and his wife Vivien Leigh’s visit to Australia in the 1940s. But he was a beautiful Marcus Flavius Aquila in Eagle Of The Ninth. He was about thirty when he played the role, but looked younger.

And it wasn’t just him. The costumes looked lived-in, the buildings likewise, the landscape beautiful. The rest of the cast were convincing - and interesting to hear the Seal People with Scottish accents. Of course, in the TV show, they were the only people seen on the other side of the Wall, apart from Guern the Hunter, who was a Roman anyway, one who had settled down there with a British wife. In the novel, the author could mention that the characters were speaking local languages but you can’t do that in a film/TV show. In the film, they had the Seal People speaking Gaelic, which was nice, but it wouldn’t work well on a longer TV show. So everyone spoke English, with different accents. Keep it simple!

I loved that the script used pretty much only the dialogue from the book, including the scene where Marcus is joyfully driving an amazing team of ponies in a British chariot, talking to the horses. That scene, by the way, was filmed for The Eagle movie, but was cut. I saw it in the extras on the DVD. The film included one thing from the book that was not in the TV version, and that’s Marcus’s handmade  olivewood bird. But the film left out the girl Cottia and the wolf, Cub. I suppose it was decided to keep it simple, since it was only a couple of hours long, but really, Cottia would have been a nice romantic interest and didn’t have to take up much of the film. She is such a lovely character!

Still, both girl and wolf appear in the TV version, and it works!

I’m still watching. I saw four episodes today, while doing some clearing in the lounge.

As for the novel, I’ve just started The Silver Branch, which is the next novel in the series, only this time I will be following it up with Frontier Wolf, before The Lantern Bearers and Sword At Sunset. Time for a binge!


miki said...

never heard of this one but you made me curious

Sue Bursztynski said...

It’s a children’s book that was very popular in English speaking countries many years ago. There may be a French translation. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t!