August 22, 2014

The Eagle Movie: Celtic, for Diana Gabaldon Fans! Trailer

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Celtic

We may not have a movie of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novel yet, but The Eagle movie of 2011 should help tide you over. The amount of Celtic lore and music was a pleasant surprise. Like the Outlander novels, this movie features primitive battle surgery and emphasizes the similarities between Scottish highlanders and American Indians, or First Nation Peoples. The Scottish highland scenery and the Gaelic language, music, props and costumes in this movie all feed a Celtic appetite.

Rome building Hadrian’s Wall in 120 AD is the premise for this film. This happened 1600+ years before Diana Gabaldon’s Jamie walked the Highland hills, but the Highlands characters in this film are undoubtedly Jamie’s ancestors. One of the actors is even named Jamie Bell. He portrays a Brigante named Esca Mac Cunoval. Jamie’s hair even looks red in the sun! The 130 AD animosity between Rome and the Scottish Highlands — portrayed in this movie — partly explains the 1700′s animosity between England and Scotland — portrayed in Diana Gabaldon’s novels. (More below the trailer)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nmiee-4PQJI

Even though The Eagle is told from the Roman point of view, we get to hear Irish pipes, fiddles and dulcimers pretty much throughout Atli Orvarsson’s original score. Much Gaelic singing is in the score, too, and Celtic drumming. Sword fighting probably sounds the same in every culture, and this film has plenty of that.

Esca Mac Cunoval speaks Gaelic much of the time, and we get subtitles. When Esca speaks English, he has the beginnings of a Scottish Highlands accent — especially when Esca says, “He slit her throat.” This is the first movie I have seen where they actually speak Gaelic. I love it and want them to make more. Morag Stewart is the Gaelic advisor for The Eagle.

There are no Scottish plaids or even kilts yet in the year 140 AD, but Esca Mac Cunoval wears an arisaid that features circular Celtic knotwork patterns. Curiously, these patterns only start to show when he gets to the Highlands. (More below this video of an interview with Jamie Bell regarding filming on location in the Scottish Highlands – and how Jamie’s costar Channing Tatum scalded his genitals while filming The Eagle.)

The Picts in The Eagle paint themselves with ordinary mud and tatoos, not with woad like the Picts as portrayed in the movie King Arthur. The Eagle movie calls the Picts “painted people,” “rogue warriors” and “seal people” — and portrays Picts very similar to American Indians in grooming, dress and demeanor. They have hairdos that resemble Mohawks, wear bone and tooth necklaces, and live in round tents with fires in the center. Their ritual rites of passage, feathered chief and painted caves resemble those in films about American Indians, most notably The Trial of Billy Jack.

The Eagle was filmed on location in Scotland, and there are panoramic vistas of the Scottish Highlands. The credits thank the people of the Coigaen Peninsula. Down below in the comments we learn that the Seal People are portrayed by Scottish locals from Achiltibuie, where much of the filming took place. Parts were made in Hungary, but not so you would notice. Most of the technical credits are Hungarian names. Producer Duncan Kenworthy and director Kevin MacDonald both have Scottish names.

I count The Eagle among these other great Celtic films I have seen: Brave Heart, The Highlander, Rob Roy and King Arthur. The only distraction for me was that The Eagle movie’s antlered medicine man looks like Riff Raff.

Celtic Costume How-To: Woad from the Movie ‘King Arthur’ Using Blue Hair Paint

Disclaimer:

The cost of my movie tickets was reimbursed, but not for the purpose of reviewing nor promoting this film.

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Copyright©2011 Cherise Kelley

Comments

  1. Ok, I’ve been very excited about this film recently but there’s just a couple of things I’d like to point out here.<br/>While I am happy that the moviemakers chose to use Gaelic in place of the lost language of Picts (I’m a Gael myself living in the West Highlands) I’m not sure whether they’ve fully grasped the themes they were toying around with in the design phase.<br/><br/>First of all though I’d like to say this before the serious things:<br/>Ok, there’s no such thing as “Celtic” except in design art and the Glaswegian football club. That’s probably not Irish music but Scottish which is a great deal different if you know anything about it. As a Scot, Braveheart made me cry with rage over historical inaccuracies literally every 5 seconds don’t you dare ever say anything good about it. It destroyed the story of William Wallace. It’s “Scottish Highlands”, Scots is not a good adjective for them. I don’t want to seem rude but, it shows that you know very little about Scotland and Roman Caledonia in this article.<br/>Most of all I hope you’re pronouncing Gaelic Gah-lik not Gay-lik.<br/>Rant over.<br/><br/>In the run-up to the film being released (it hasn’t in Britain yet) I understood that they were trying to teach Americans about ‘foreign’ cultures and racial differences through this great story. However from the clips I’ve seen and articles I’ve read I’m not sure whether they’ve just turned this into an action movie with Picts (and I suppose Gaels..) as the baddies. By making the invented Seal people look like native Americans I think they rather dumbed down that message and are insulting the average American’s ability to read subtexts…<br/><br/>I haven’t yet seen the film but there are elements from the clips they claim Esca is a Brigantes in one clip, now a tribe that lived in middling England would never on any accounts be friends with one from Sutherland and Rosshire! In Roman Britain terms they are just too far apart. There would have been very little help they could have given each other.

  2. Ok, I’ve been very excited about this film recently but there’s just a couple of things I’d like to point out here. While I am happy that the moviemakers chose to use Gaelic in place of the lost language of Picts (I’m a Gael myself living in the West Highlands) I’m not sure whether they’ve fully grasped the themes they were toying around with in the design phase.

    First of all though I’d like to say this before the serious things: Ok, there’s no such thing as “Celtic” except in design art and the Glaswegian football club. That’s probably not Irish music but Scottish which is a great deal different if you know anything about it. As a Scot, Braveheart made me cry with rage over historical inaccuracies literally every 5 seconds don’t you dare ever say anything good about it. It destroyed the story of William Wallace. It’s “Scottish Highlands”, Scots is not a good adjective for them. I don’t want to seem rude but, it shows that you know very little about Scotland and Roman Caledonia in this article. Most of all I hope you’re pronouncing Gaelic Gah-lik not Gay-lik. Rant over.

    In the run-up to the film being released (it hasn’t in Britain yet) I understood that they were trying to teach Americans about ‘foreign’ cultures and racial differences through this great story. However from the clips I’ve seen and articles I’ve read I’m not sure whether they’ve just turned this into an action movie with Picts (and I suppose Gaels..) as the baddies. By making the invented Seal people look like native Americans I think they rather dumbed down that message and are insulting the average American’s ability to read subtexts…

    I haven’t yet seen the film but there are elements from the clips they claim Esca is a Brigantes in one clip, now a tribe that lived in middling England would never on any accounts be friends with one from Sutherland and Rosshire! In Roman Britain terms they are just too far apart. There would have been very little help they could have given each other.

    • @Fearghas Thank you for your insights. I am very pleased to have the input of an actual Gael! I am just a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s historical fiction — by no stretch am I a scholar of Scottish or Roman Caledonian history. At your recommendation, I will edit “Scots highlands” to “Scottish Highlands.”

      I don’t want to spoil the plot of the movie, and so I won’t comment too much on who is a baddie in it. However, I assure you that everyone’s point of view is respected in this film. I also want to pointout that “native Americans” — or First Nations as they prefer to be called — might resent your assertion that comparisons to their culture dumb the other culture down.

      Do you speak Gaelic? I will take your advice and pronounce it “Gah-lik” from now on! One of the themes in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels is what a shame it is that this language is dying out.

    • @CheriseKelley @Fearghas

      After re-reading my reply I came off quite rude I thought… Sorry for that, I remember it being late in the evening when I wrote it. It’s almost midnight again now so I’ll check myself this time. I’ve still not seen this movie yet!! Curse transatlantic opening date differences! Especially since it was filmed in this country. But I’ve seen a couple more clips released where I’m beginning to doubt some of my (perhaps hasty) speculations about goodies and baddies. I’m looking forward to seeing it as playing at my local picturehouse more though now I’ve learned that yes, you’re right, they used the locals from where they shot at Achiltibuie as the Seal People. Achiltibuie is perhaps one of my most favourite places in the world – can’t wait to see it on the silver screen. I in no way meant that in particular drawing similarities on Native Americans (or First Nations) was the dumbing down issue, I meant it because that’s a parallel that most American audiences will be most familiar with. British audiences don’t know all that much about them but recognise English oppression of the other countries in the British Isles. But Americans are always the main audience target with Hollywood of course. I meant no offence at all!! I understand what it means to be an oppressed people even today in Scotland.

    • @Fearghas Apology wholeheartedly accepted. My father’s mother’s father emigrated to British Columbia from Scottland, all that time ago. His bride emigrated from Ireland, but we’ll not discuss that scandal! You might be surprised at how many Americans are your (distant) kinsmen. Our ancestors emigrated to America because of English oppression. (Of course my father’s father’s people were English, but I hope you won’t hold that against me.)

      I hope you will give me your impressions, once you do see The Eagle movie!

    • @Fearghas Have you seen The Eagle movie yet? What did you think of it? I’ve been dying to hear from you about it. I still think those were Irish pipes, in the music.

      • Fearghas says:

        @CheriseKelley Turns out I missed it at the pictures… I was actually stateside for the first time! So I wouldn’t call that too much of a bad exchange.. I’ve found I slightly dubious copy online however so here we go!

      • Fearghas says:

        @CheriseKelley Ok! Just finished watching it, and I have to admit that I thought that on the whole it was a load of Hollywood nonsense!

        The portrayal of the Seal People was perhaps the worst, the comparisons to Native Americans was a bit silly and they were stronger than I originally thought having watched it with my American girlfriend with surprisingly close Navajo heritage she pointed out a few extra things. I think it was the tomahawk during the chasing sequence that did it for me. I can understand why to make it more relateable to American audiences rather than including Pictish people which nobody knows anything about really anyway but that really just struck home the Hollywood rather than Holyrood.. But I suppose making the Romans American means making the locals their historical oppressee sort of makes sense – again, especially when pitching a movie to an American audience.

        It was great to see Achitibuie and I even recognised the guy who rents canoes to tourists among the blue faces! The chase sequence was actually brilliant when recognising places they were, you could see they were in fact running in a large circle around the whole of the Highlands!

        The Gaelic was great to hear and was given a lot more screen time that I thought! I watched it without subtitles and there were many a load of times when my girlfriend asked me what they were saying and I hadn’t noticed the language had changed! There was a great part at the battle near the start when the Pictish leader cut the Roman’s head of then shouted “I hate you guys!” at the top of his voice, I’m not sure what the subtitles read but that was funny.

        Overall I thought the acting was below par except for Jamie Bell who just showed up everyone else (cough Channing Tatum) and it didn’t especially follow the book as far as I remember it… The ending was the cheesiest load of cheese I’ve ever seen and possibly the most contrived thing there. Their whole macho walking out “what next?” thing? Reeks of Hollywood. Which I keep using as a bad thing… but well, I suppose I sort of think it is..

        Ok, apologies in advance for this bit but I just saw something you wrote in the main article bit which grated a bit. You mentioned Roman and Pictish conflict being responsible for the 18th century dynastical wars in Great Britain. The 1500 year gap between those times sort of points to whether that’s true or not. The Jacobite rebellions were a series of dynastical struggles to put the Stuart monarchy back on the throne rather than the Hanover family. Their supporters were Catholic and Episcopalian and it was fought with religious doctrine against the institution of Presbyterianism. Just so you know I suppose.

        Anyway, the historian in me is satisfied and now for the musician! I’m afraid those were definately Scottish smallpipes, not Irish! These are a similar kind, but not the same, although most of the tunes we are playing in that video are actually Irish but there were tourists from across the pond so we pandered to them with some Irish cheese!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooisD4mSIdQ&feature=BFa&list=LLmMx8p6v6CZ8&index=7

        These are Irish pipes (Uillean pipes) with American tunes being played by a Scot! An unbeatable mix!

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7zmd4rYh1o

        So there you go! :)

        I hope I’ve been interesting? I’m not really sure what I set out to do when writing this.. but I hope my opinion is valued!

        • @Fearghas @CheriseKelley Of course your opinion is valued! Thank you very much for posting it! Thank you even more for the links to these musical performances, which I listened to with much pleasure. I agree that Jamie Bell’s performance outshone all the others’. I really admire him, and am embarrassed to admit I had not heard of him before seeing this film. I read his biography and learned he started as a dancer but accidentally became a movie actor. How lucky for us!

          Pray, what did your American friend of Navajo heritage have to say about the film? I am very curious on that! Perhaps you could invite her to comment? That would interest me greatly.

  3. @Fearghas Thank you for your insights. I am very pleased to have the input of an actual Gael! I am just a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s historical fiction — by no stretch am I a scholar of Scottish or Roman Caledonian history. At your recommendation, I will edit “Scots highlands” to “Scottish Highlands.”<br/><br/>I don’t want to spoil the plot of the movie, and so I won’t comment too much on who is a baddie in it. However, I assure you that everyone’s point of view is respected in this film. I also want to pointout that “native Americans” — or First Nations as they prefer to be called — might resent your assertion that comparisons to their culture dumb the other culture down.<br/><br/>Do you speak Gaelic? I will take your advice and pronounce it “Gah-lik” from now on! One of the themes in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander novels is what a shame it is that this language is dying out.

  4. @CheriseKelley @Fearghas <br/><br/>After re-reading my reply I came off quite rude I thought… Sorry for that, I remember it being late in the evening when I wrote it. It’s almost midnight again now so I’ll check myself this time.<br/>I’ve still not seen this movie yet!! Curse transatlantic opening date differences! Especially since it was filmed in this country. But I’ve seen a couple more clips released where I’m beginning to doubt some of my (perhaps hasty) speculations about goodies and baddies. I’m looking forward to seeing it as playing at my local picturehouse more though now I’ve learned that yes, you’re right, they used the locals from where they shot at Achiltibuie as the Seal People. Achiltibuie is perhaps one of my most favourite places in the world – can’t wait to see it on the silver screen.<br/>I in no way meant that in particular drawing similarities on Native Americans (or First Nations) was the dumbing down issue, I meant it because that’s a parallel that most American audiences will be most familiar with. British audiences don’t know all that much about them but recognise English oppression of the other countries in the British Isles. But Americans are always the main audience target with Hollywood of course. I meant no offence at all!! I understand what it means to be an oppressed people even today in Scotland.

  5. @Fearghas Apology wholeheartedly accepted. My father’s mother’s father emigrated to British Columbia from Scottland, all that time ago. His bride emigrated from Ireland, but we’ll not discuss that scandal! You might be surprised at how many Americans are your (distant) kinsmen. Our ancestors emigrated to America because of English oppression. (Of course my father’s father’s people were English, but I hope you won’t hold that against me.)<br/><br/>I hope you will give me your impressions, once you do see The Eagle movie!

  6. @Fearghas have you seen The Eagle movie yet? I’m dying to know what you thought of it!

  7. @Fearghas have you seen The Eagle movie yet? I’m dying to know what you thought of it!

  8. @Fearghas Have you seen The Eagle movie yet? What did you think of it? I’ve been dying to hear from you about it. I still think those were Irish pipes, in the music.

  9. Fearghas says:

    @CheriseKelley @Fearghas

  10. Fearghas says:

    @CheriseKelley Turns out I missed it at the pictures… I was actually stateside for the first time! So I wouldn’t call that too much of a bad exchange.. I’ve found I slightly dubious copy online however so here we go!

  11. Fearghas says:

    @CheriseKelley Ok! Just finished watching it, and I have to admit that I thought that on the whole it was a load of Hollywood nonsense!

    The portrayal of the Seal People was perhaps the worst, the comparisons to Native Americans was a bit silly and they were stronger than I originally thought having watched it with my American girlfriend with surprisingly close Navajo heritage she pointed out a few extra things. I think it was the tomahawk during the chasing sequence that did it for me. I can understand why to make it more relateable to American audiences rather than including Pictish people which nobody knows anything about really anyway but that really just struck home the Hollywood rather than Holyrood.. But I suppose making the Romans American means making the locals their historical oppressee sort of makes sense – again, especially when pitching a movie to an American audience.

    It was great to see Achitibuie and I even recognised the guy who rents canoes to tourists among the blue faces! The chase sequence was actually brilliant when recognising places they were, you could see they were in fact running in a large circle around the whole of the Highlands!

    The Gaelic was great to hear and was given a lot more screen time that I thought! I watched it without subtitles and there were many a load of times when my girlfriend asked me what they were saying and I hadn’t noticed the language had changed! There was a great part at the battle near the start when the Pictish leader cut the Roman’s head of then shouted “I hate you guys!” at the top of his voice, I’m not sure what the subtitles read but that was funny.

    Overall I thought the acting was below par except for Jamie Bell who just showed up everyone else (cough Channing Tatum) and it didn’t especially follow the book as far as I remember it… The ending was the cheesiest load of cheese I’ve ever seen and possibly the most contrived thing there. Their whole macho walking out “what next?” thing? Reeks of Hollywood. Which I keep using as a bad thing… but well, I suppose I sort of think it is..

    Ok, apologies in advance for this bit but I just saw something you wrote in the main article bit which grated a bit. You mentioned Roman and Pictish conflict being responsible for the 18th century dynastical wars in Great Britain. The 1500 year gap between those times sort of points to whether that’s true or not. The Jacobite rebellions were a series of dynastical struggles to put the Stuart monarchy back on the throne rather than the Hanover family. Their supporters were Catholic and Episcopalian and it was fought with religious doctrine against the institution of Presbyterianism. Just so you know I suppose.

    Anyway, the historian in me is satisfied and now for the musician! I’m afraid those were definately Scottish smallpipes, not Irish! These are a similar kind, but not the same, although most of the tunes we are playing in that video are actually Irish but there were tourists from across the pond so we pandered to them with some Irish cheese!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooisD4mSIdQ&feature=BFa&list=LLmMx8p6v6CZ8&index=7

    These are Irish pipes (Uillean pipes) with American tunes being played by a Scot! An unbeatable mix!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7zmd4rYh1o

    So there you go! :)

    I hope I’ve been interesting? I’m not really sure what I set out to do when writing this.. but I hope my opinion is valued!

  12. @Fearghas @CheriseKelley Of course your opinion is valued! Thank you very much for posting it! Thank you even more for the links to these musical performances, which I listened to with much pleasure. I agree that Jamie Bell’s performance outshone all the others’. I really admire him, and am embarrassed to admit I had not heard of him before seeing this film. I read his biography and learned he started as a dancer but accidentally became a movie actor. How lucky for us!

    Pray, what did your American friend of Navajo heritage have to say about the film? I am very curious on that! Perhaps you could invite her to comment? That would interest me greatly.

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