Macdonald Raises The Eagle Of The Ninth

With Jamie Bell & Channing Tatum

Many of you may remember The Eagle of the Ninth from recommended reading lists as a young teenager / your parent's bookshelf, so it's good news today that Kevin Macdonald is set to turn the classic 1954 novel into a film, starring Jamie Bell and (probably; he's in talks) Channing Tatum.

The story is set in Roman Britain, where a young man called Marcus Aquila (Tatum, possibly) ventures north of Hadrian's Wall to discover the whereabouts of the Ninth Legion, which his father commanded, which vanished 15 years before*. With him is a young Celtic slave, Esca (Bell), rescued from a gladiatorial arena and helping him in his quest, as he disguises himself as an occultist to travel north of the Wall.

The film of course rests on the same subject matter as Neil Marshall's horror-y approach to the story of the Ninth in Centurion, which is currently shooting: one of the odder subject overlaps in recent Hollywood history.

The script's been written by Jeremy Brock, who also worked with Macdonald on The Last King of Scotland, with production due to start in August. Apparently Hungary will stand in for Roman England, but Scotland will be playing itself. We're not sure what that says about Scotland. In the meantime, Macdonald's State of Play opens on April 24.

*When Rosemary Sutcliffe wrote the novel, historical thinking was that the Ninth really had vanished oop north, but since it has emerged that they were probably wiped out in either Palestine or somewhere near the Caspian Sea, fighting the Parthian Empire. So there.

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