If you were one of those people wondering what in God’s name Kevin MacDonald (left) was doing hiring Channing Friggin Tatum to play a Roman legionnaire in his new movie “The Eagle of the Ninth”, the Scottish director has an explanation: he did it on purpose. According to MacDonald (via an interview with the UK’s TimesOnline) he purposefully cast the all-American Tatum in order to sledgehammer home his disdain for “American cultural imperialism”. To this end, he’s cast two well-known Americans, Tatum and Donald Sutherland as the leaders of an occupying Roman force that encounters Scotland’s Seal People.
“It was always my concept for this film that the Romans would be Americans…
It’s a film is about a guy who believes wholeheartedly in the values of Rome, and believes everyone else must want to become a part of the great family of Rome. Marcus thinks, ‘It would benefit them so much — can’t they see it is the only way to live their lives?’ He comes to realise there are other value systems, other people have a claim to honour in the same way that he as an American — or a Roman — can claim honour. This is a film which is some way reflects the some of current anxieties and the political questions that we all have…
That’s what we are doing — not simply reflecting on the Afghanistan or Iraq wars, but a sense of cultural imperialism. Those films dealt with torture and maltreatment of prisoners, but in the context of Indians. The parallel is definitely there, and it is part of what you would want the audience to take away from the film. But it is not necessarily literal. Literalism is very often the death of films.”
But wait, Kevin, the big bad Americans have only been doing their “Imperialism” thing for less than 100 years, while your beloved UK did it for a good 400 years, and they were infinitely harsher about “teaching” the ways of the Empire. As a Scotsman, surely you’re harboring some ill will for past deeds aka what I learned from “Braveheart”?
“Britain isn’t a force any more, we aren’t cultural imperialists. That just didn’t seem the right way to go.”
Oh, that explains it, then.
Kevn MacDonald’s “Eagle of the Ninth” arrives to explain to you the evils of America in September 24, 2010.