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The Eagle is a 2011 film based upon the Rosemary Sutcliff historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth.

A young Roman soldier named Marcus Flavius Aquila goes on a quest to find the eagle standard of his father. It is loosely based on the mystery of the real Roman Ninth Legion, which disappears from the historical record after having last been mentioned as present in Scotland in the early 2nd century.

Tropes used in The Eagle include:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Marcus, played by Channing Tatum.
  • An Aesop: Honor Before Reason is both good and bad, as it's the reason why Esca and Marcus survive through the film, but the things done in the name of avenging honor are shown to be violent and possibly ultimately pointless.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The chin-strap scar. First crops up in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot, then is repeatedly used as an identifying mark for Roman legionaries.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than the original novel. The film ups the amount of actual fighting considerably from the original novel, nor was there any infanticide originally.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Tribal warriors with war-paint and suspiciously Mohawk-ish haircuts chasing after someone from another tribe and someone from The Empire across miles and miles of unspoilt wilderness: Last of the Mohicans much?
  • Executive Meddling: The film originally ended more ambiguously, with Esca and Marcus riding into the mists. But this played so badly with test audiences that they hurridely shot a newer, definitive ending with Esca and Marcus delivering the Eagle and riding off into the sunset. The rushed nature of the newer ending shows, badly.
    • There is also an alternative ending where Marcus ends up burning the Eagle on Guern's funeral pyre because he believes it rightfully belongs to the brave men who died fighting for it. The final scene shows him and Esca walking back to Hadrian's Wall, discussing possible plans for the future like starting a farm in Spain to breed horses.
  • The Film of the Book
  • Gory Discretion Shot
  • Hollywood Tactics: A scythed chariot would not stand a chance in hell against well-formed heavy infantry, let alone legionaries. Marcus letting his troops turn around and run is the worst thing he could have done. Doubly so, seeing as the Romans had developed an extremely effective method of repelling cavalry.
    • Truth in Television: Chariots were intended to scare foot soldiers into running. Romans were also unfamiliar with them as they had fallen out of use pretty much everywhere else in the known world.
    • Also, the use of the tortoise formation (meant for withstanding ranged attacks) to charge a line of infantry.
  • Honor Before Reason: Pretty much everyone.
    • Marcus undertakes the very dangerous hunt for the eponymous Eagle in hostile territory assisted only by a slave who has a fairly strong incentive to murder him and take off, all in the name of his family's honor.
    • Esca, the slave in question, has no particular incentive not to simply kill Marcus and leave; the only reason he doesn't, despite ample opportunities to do so, is because he gave his word.
  • Not So Different: The Roman and the Britons; both are quite capable of barbarism and nobility towards themselves and others, both have a thriving slave trade, both factions have some kind of evil aristocrat (Seal King and Placidius), and both 'worship' the Eagle as a symbol of their people and their military prowess. Marcus and the Seal Prince, his Shadow Archetype, have a more personal one: they both treat their peers politely, but have a disdain for slaves, they both set out to avenge the loss of the Eagle (just a hunk of metal) as well as the deaths of their fathers, and when both Kick the Dog, they display some humanity in spite of it (Marcus performing it like a mercy kill, the Prince laying his victim down with dignity.) This is symbolized by the fact that, the Prince, who spends most of the movie with war-paint, has it washed off in the end, at which point he kind of resembles Marcus. Also, the music playing when the Druid beheads one of the patrol is the same as when Esca is forced to fight in the arena. The song is called 'Barbarians'.
  • The Queen's Latin: Not insignificantly averted.
  • Redemption Equals Death
  • Scarily Competent Tracker
  • Shoot the Dog: Or "kill the boy." Notable in that the primary protagonist and the primary antagonist both do this.
  • Translation Convention: Romans speak in American accents, Britons speak in Scottish accents or in Gaelic.
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