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Saturday, March 19, 2011

"The Eagle" and the U.S.-British Imperialism Peddled by a Former Supermodel and the Guy who was the First White Swan

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Watch “The Eagle” through the eyes of the conquered than those of the conquerors. Roman centurion Marcus Flavius Aquila (Tatum Channing) is the United States and the British slave Esca (Jamie Bell) is the United Kingdom and the “wild” and “savage” terrain of the northern British Isle is the rest of the non-Anglo-American and, pushing the boundary further, the non-European world.   Rome’s mission was to expand and conquer the known world.  Rome wanted to civilize, to enlighten, to teach the meaning of honor and what it meant to be called a Roman. Rome, with its hunky, iron-clad noble generals wanted to bring light to the darkest corners of the world, to free men from ignorance while maintaining the lucrative business of real estate and slavery. 

The great Roman Empire broached honor like a soiled flag raised high on the top of the highest pole so that the glare of the sunlight and the gushing wind would hide the flag’s blood-soaked linen.   Do not be fooled, Rome was not entirely sanctimonious. It is one of the first multi-national conglomerates of the world.  It is partly all about the money and power baby.

Now, represent the people outside the great Hadrian’s wall as painted animals with primitive rituals, unintelligible language motivated by the thirst for blood.  Hire a sexy recently bankable leading actor to play the hero (the guy from G.I. Joe), get a young promising British lad as support (the boy who wanted to dance in Swan Lake),  and throw in at least one veteran actor, say, Donald Sutherland; then, the fortuitous imperialistic agenda of “The Eagle” is well in placed. Be ready to be misled or hypnotized.

 Yes, “The Eagle” is just a harmless action-packed film about the glory of Rome.  It is just one of those period films with enough action sequences, but not too stylized that it would lose its historical authenticity. 

However, the film has imperialism tucked underneath those white Roman togas.  If you cheered as Tatum Channing’s and Jamie Bell’s characters came out victorious in the film, then it may be easy for you to cheer the next time the United States and Britain go gallivanting into another foreign land, all in the name of the protection of oil, I mean, freedom.

It may be a poetic accident, or maybe not, that the most iconic symbol of the film is the eagle, which in the eyes of the colonized, the perennial symbol of western hegemony. 

Frankly, I enjoyed watching “The Eagle.”  It is a relatively enjoyable and watered-down historical excursion. However, it lacks the liberating doctrine of Ridley Scott’s “Gladiator” or Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus.” Nevertheless, I was almost convinced and ready to march for Rome until I saw Tatum’s and Jamie’s characters walking side by side at the end of the film. There it was: Channing standing tall and bulky next to the short and lean Bell. Suddenly, the images of George Bush and Tony Blair came flashing before my eyes. All I could say was “dear lord, did anybody see that?”

Update, March 19, 2011: U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defenses... Read more on Yahoo news

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