They say there's a kernel of fact behind every legend, and every now and then a film comes along that tries to pull back the curtain on a popular tale by imagining what might have "really" happened way back when. Several years ago, The 13th Warrior suggested the Beowulf stories were inspired by an encounter between Vikings and a mysterious tribe in northern Europe. More recently, King Arthur re-cast the famed English king as a Roman military officer who stuck around in the British Isles.
The Last Legion continues in that tradition by pushing Arthurian legend even further back into Roman history—but as with all these speculative tales, the fact that the legends have been dressed up in historical garb does not make the new stories any less bogus. In fact, if anything, the historical details become a distraction.
Take the opening narration, which tells us that a special sword (can you guess which one?) was acquired by the Roman dictator Julius Caesar and inherited by "the last of his line," the Emperor Tiberius. It's not entirely clear what this means, since Tiberius—who was adopted by Augustus, who in turn was adopted by Julius Caesar—was actually the second of five emperors in that dynasty. So how was Tiberius "the last of his line" if he was neither a genetic descendant nor the last ruler in that family?
Things get even more pointlessly erroneous when the story proper begins. A subtitle tells us the story is set in Rome in A.D. 460, but it revolves around a boy named Romulus Augustus (Thomas Sangster) who most historians regard as the last of the Roman emperors—and who, in fact, was actually elevated to the emperor's throne, while still a young teen, in A.D. 475. (Incidentally, the capital city of the ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more
The Last Legion
This slideshow is only available for subscribers.
Please log in or subscribe to view the slideshow.