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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