The boy emperor and the warrior
by Francesca Malandrucco
13/09/2007 - Romulus Augustus is not just any boy, but the last emperor of Rome. Little is known about him except that he ruled briefly, until he was captured by Odoacer the Goth and imprisoned on Capri. No one knows what actually happened to the boy emperor.
Writer Valerio Massimo Manfredi tried to imagine his fate, in a book entitled The Last Legion, published in 44 countries, which Doug Lefler has turned into an epic film.
Produced by Raffaella and Marta De Laurentis, Tarak Ben Ammar and Harvey Weinstein (executive producer), The Last Legion, an exclusive RAI Cinema project for Italy, is coming out tomorrow, September 14, on 250 screens.
The film is a loose adaptation of the novel, in which the story of Romulus Augustus (Thomas Sangster) mixes historical events and myths. Ben Kingsley is Ambrosinus, the wizard who is the young ruler’s mentor and tutor and Colin Firth plays Aurelius, commander of the fourth invicta legion, entrusted with defending the emperor from Odoacer (Peter Mullan) and take him to safety in Britain. He is flanked by the beautiful Aishwarya Ray as the warrior Mira.
“My Aurelius is a little more rigid than the character Firth plays,” said Manfredi, who worked on the film’s story even though he spent little time on set. “Mine is a tragic hero who firmly believes in a crumbling world and would have given life to a different film. Ben Kingsley, however, is perfect in the role of Ambrosinus, as is Thomas Sangster in the role of the young caesar. I still remember when I taught him on set how to read the prophecy of the sword in Latin: ‘One edge to defend, one to defeat…forged to fit the hand of he who is destined to rule’”.
This is yet another story built around the myth of Excalibur, the magic sword. “A myth is a powerful invention,” added Manfredi. “So powerful as to be immortal. This is also the secret to the success of cinema, where the desire for myths keeps growing. I think people today feel lost in this society where the individual is humiliated in his individuality. But remember that deep down inside all of us there always lies a hero”.