0 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

Film / Centurion


Centurion Quintus Dias

Centurion is a 2010 film written and directed by Neil Marshall, he of Dog Soldiers, The Descent and Doomsday fame and starring Michael Fassbender. The film explores the possible fate of the Legio IX Hispania - the legendary Ninth Legion that mysteriously disappeared from Roman records in the early second century AD, for no given reason.

Centurion contains examples of:

  • Animal Motifs: Etain wears plenty of animal furs, particularly wolf pelts to illustrate how like a wolf she is herself.
  • Anti-Hero / Anti-Villain: The Roman soldiers are part of an invading army yet all they're trying to do is rescue their general and get back home. The Picts are trying to fight off an invasion and want revenge for the prince's murder but at the same time they're ruthless and don't exactly treat their own people any better.
  • Armor Is Useless: Despite the obvious advantage of having heavy armor, the Romans don't seem to be getting much benefit from it. There are numerous shots of Picts killing Roman Legionaires without even having to bother with trying to find a chink in their armor, this despite the fact that Roman armor was quite advanced for its time and a noticeable advantage.
  • Artistic License :
    • Our heroes' swashbuckling fighting styles would not have been used by Roman soldiers. Dias has an excuse, he was trained by his father, a gladiator, who would have showy moves, but not the rest.
    • The Picts speak Scots-Gaelic. No record of the Pictish language exists and the closest modern language to it is theorised to be Welsh but Neil Marshall thought it would be too confusing to have a Scottish tribe speaking Welsh.
  • Ax-Crazy: Etain
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Basically what General Virilus' names mean.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The 9th Legion is wiped out, and Quintus is ostracized from Roman society, but he retires with his hot new girlfriend to an idyllic little cottage.
  • British Accents: The Romans sport The Queen's Latin.
  • Book Ends / Ironic Echo: "My name is Quintus Dias, and this is neither the beginning nor the end of my story."
  • Chef of Iron: Tarak
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted. Tarak identifies death cap mushrooms early on and Brick sees them in the stew Arianne serves them, but it turns out he's wrong.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Played with. Macros is a champion runner and so Quintus knows that Thax is lying when he says Macros wasn't able to outrun the wolves.
  • Cradling Your Kill: Done with Etain after being stabbed in the stomach by Quintus.
  • Dark Action Girl: Etain.
  • Designated Girl Fight: Seems like it could be heading this way as both sides appear to have one Action Girl each but it turns out Etain is one of the Picts as well, giving them two.
  • Dirty Coward: Macros.
  • The Dragon: Etain.
  • Dwindling Party: Only Dias, Borthos, and Thax make it to Hadrian's Wall. Dias implicitly calls Thax out on his treachery, and Thax is killed in their ensuing struggle. Borthos is shot with an arrow by the Romans, who mistake him for a Pict, killing him. So Dias is the only one who makes it inside. Not that it matters anyways because the Romans try to kill him after all that to keep the fate of the Ninth Legion a secret.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Etain.
  • Empty Shell: Etain, as pointed out by Arianne:
    Arianne: Her soul is an empty vessel. Only Roman blood can fill it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin : Doubles as a Bilingual Bonus. Virilus means manly in latin, and general Virilus is very manly.
  • A Father to His Men: General Virilus.
  • Foreign-Looking Font: The opening titles and subtitles use Papyrus.
  • Freudian Excuse: Etain has good reasons to hate the Romans.
  • Gorn: There is plenty of it. As expected of Neil Marshall.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars - Arianne's scar marking her as an outcast because she was accused of Necromancy. It's almost completely covered by her hair and doesn't detract from her beauty at all.
  • Gray and Gray Morality: The Romans are kind of dicks. But then, so are the Picts.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Arianne.
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Inverted. The lone woman with the legion turns out to be a Mole for the Picts. Of course from the Picts' perspective, it's a straight example.
  • Hot Witch: Arianne was accused of witchcraft, and deliberately creates the impression that she is a necromancer to protect herself, but she doesn't really have any magical powers, although she is an expert on woodcraft and herblore. She's definitely hot.
  • Kill 'em All: Everyone in the Ninth Legion dies. Everyone of the picts sent after Dias dies. Pretty much everyone except Dias and Arianne dies.
  • Kubrick Stare: Seems to be Etain's only facial expression.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: Aeron (the Pict archer) is the light, while Etain is the dark.
  • Light Is Not Good: The pict archer Aeron is blonde and pale-skinned, dressing mainly in bright clothes. Unlike Etain, she's given no sympathetic motives and is portrayed to be just as ruthless as her male counterparts.
  • Lost Roman Legion
  • Made of Iron : Getting shot makes Ubriculius only more annoyed and by the end he only dies when running a spear through himself to get the man behind him.
  • Made of Plasticine: Both the Romans and the Picts.
  • Male Gaze: Interestingly inverted: when Etain kills Virilus, he's stripped down and she's fully clothed. Her costumes aren't particularly revealing throughout.
  • Maybe Ever After: Quintus and Arianne.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Played with since one Dark Action Girl on the Picts side is killed fairly simply in the final battle with almost no fanfare at all.
  • The Mole: Etain was raised to act as one to the Romans so the Picts could take their revenge.
  • Not So Different: The film examines that the Picts and the Romans are hardly that different from each other at all since it ends with Ariane and Quintus ending up together, who were both branded outcasts by their people.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness : who decides the ultimate fate of the Ninth Legion's legacy.
  • Our Lady of Soundtrack Sorrow: And how.
  • The Queen's Latin: The Romans have British/Irish accents.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Picts speak Scots Gaelic whereas in history, their language was remarkably similar to Welsh. Neil Marshall opted to use Scots Gaelic for fear of viewers getting confused about a Scottish army speaking Welsh.
  • The Roman Empire
  • Sacrificial Lion: General Virilus.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Etain
  • Scenery Porn
  • Shirtless Scene: Quintus spends the first 20 minutes of the film shirtless. Ditto for Virilus when he's tied up in the Picts' camp.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog : Things go badly on the return, just outside of the Roman gate.
  • Shown Their Work :
    • The armour is accurate for that time in Roman history. So are the gladii, AKA short swords used in the film by the Romans. Except the spears; for some reason they are older thrusting spears (hastae), not period-accurate javelins (pila) which have telltale elongated spearheads.
    • The clothing is on par with contemporary depictions of Picts, right down to the Celtic habit of putting white grease in their hair, which was discussed in the journals of Romans who battled the Celts and the Picts.
    • Women's status is depicted appropriate elevation for what it was in Pict culture.
    • The language choice for the Picts, which would have been an approximation of a Celt break-off language.
    • The diversity of the Roman army, which was a amalgamation of various conquered peoples under the rule of the Roman Empire.
    • The stones that carry Pictish designs.
    • Depiction of Arianne's crannog, 100% accurate for the time period and the region.
    • Inscription in the fort found near the end is written in paleographically correct II century roman characters.
  • The Speechless: Etain had her tongue cut out by Romans
  • Translation Convention: The Scots-Gaelic is meant to represent the Picts' language while naturally the English the Romans speak is supposed to be Latin.
  • Token Romance: Dias and Arianne, though it only ends with a Maybe Ever After.
  • The Unfought: Gorlacon, the leader of the Picts.
  • Unkempt Beauty: Etain. She's played by Olga Kurylenko, after all.
  • You Killed My Mother: One of Etain's good reasons to hate the Romans. Well if you want to be accurate it's: you killed my father, raped and murdered my mother, raped me and cut my tongue out.