In yesteryears, things were so much less bulit up and predictable, today we crave the newest mindblowing technological innovation, mindless violence to numb the burdens and monotonies of our everyday existences. The medium of cinema should be an escape, a stimulant, an invigorator, not an escape hatch, time killer or easy way out.
When a film like The Eagle comes along, unapologetically old fashioned, unfettered and joyously moving, people don't know how to take it. They feel cheated out of their explosions and CGI, the cheap thrills that make the business go round. Kevin MacDonald began his career as an intrepid documentarian, portraying to us the characteristics of daredevils at the edge of the world, making Herzog proud, I'm certain. He then moved on to narrative, crafting two fascinating films, The Last King of Scotland and State of Play, which moved freely and vibrantly and made us re-examine the way we looked at their respective genres.
Now he bravely crafts a sword and sandals adventure, in homage to all the Cinemascope Hollywood epics of the 50s, not to mention the 60s Eurosleaze classics.
The Eagle is a vigorous championing of all that was golden, all that has been lost in popular cinema. Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell are intriguing, fleshing out the homoerotic overtones of the Roman master-slave dynamic amid a catastrophic landscape of barbarous war on the British-Roman border. Anthony Dod Mantle's tenderized, fiery images capture the surreal shudder of MacDonald's montage.
What is left is an homage to the days when the Cineplex was pure, simple and golden.