By Will Barber Taylor
Set around 117AD, when Britain was under Roman occupation, The Eagle of the Ninth stars a young Anthony Higgins (Raiders of the Lost Ark) in the lead role as the ambitious Roman officer, Marcus Flavius Aquila. He is on a mission to discover the truth of what happened to his father’s legion, the Ninth Legion. Four thousand men disappeared without a trace while travelling to battle the rising Caledonian tribes in northern England.
Disguising himself as a Greek doctor, and joined by his freed ex-slave, Esca (Christian Rodska – The Monuments Men) Marcus travels beyond Hadrian’s Wall to unravel the mystery surrounding his father’s last stand and discover what really happened to the Ninth Legion. It’s a perilous journey, but Marcus is determined to bring back the bronze eagle standard that was a symbol of the Legion’s honour, the Eagle of the Ninth.
Eagle of the Ninth is a lavish, energetic and highly enjoyable adaptation of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s famous children’s book of the same name. Set during the Roman occupation of Britain, the series is set very much in the mould of the traditional boy’s own adventure – everything is a romping, full of gusto action flick but not too dangerous as to merit any life endangering threat. The series was made in the 70s and though this is obvious from the sets and general feel of it, it carries with it a timeless appeal that ensures that any audience can enjoy it.
The performances all round are excellent, particularly Anthony Higgins as the central character, Marcus Flavius Aquila. Higgins brings not only the typical tropes of a boy’s own hero to the role – that of a head strong adventurer but also with a certain vulnerability. Higgins gives Aquila quiet moments of reflection which help portray his desire to recapture something that has gone forever – his family. This combination of stability and vulnerability gives the character an interesting and complex inner turmoil which Higgins expertly presents.
In conclusion, Eagle of the Ninth is an energetic, imaginative and thoroughly enjoyable romp that captures the essence of the traditional boy’s own adventure and mixes it with some more complex and interesting themes to produce a highly entertaining series that I would certainly recommend.
With thanks to Simply Media. You can purchase Eagle of the Ninth on DVD here and on digital download via Vimeo.