THE Romans marched across Northumberland yesterday – in cutting edge 3D.
The world premiere of The Edge of Empire – The Eagle’s Eye, which portrays life on Hadrian’s Wall, was staged at the Tyneside Cinema. The Edge of Empire is the first 3D film produced in the North East for a regional visitor attraction.
It is also the first 3D venture by Newcastle-based Dene Films, which was set up in 1992 and has turned out more than 5,000 commercials, TV programmes and corporate films.
The Edge of Empire is part of a £6.2m revamp of visitor and exhibition facilities at Vindolanda Roman fort in Northumberland and its sister site the Roman Army Museum at Carvoran, backed by the Heritage Lottery Fund and One North East.
The film will be on permanent show at Carvoran’s cinema when the attractions re-open to visitors on March 12. At yesterday’s premiere were members of the top Roman re-enactment group the Ermine Street Guard and pupils from Haltwhistle Community Campus who will soon be studying the Romans.
The £350,000 film features Sima the eagle from the Kielder Bird of Prey Centre and real wolfhounds.
The docu-drama story focuses on Aquila, a foreign recruit into the Roman army, and the reality of life on the Wall and at forts like Vindolanda.
Film director Steven Boyle, 31, who grew up in Birtley, Gateshead, said: “It was technically very challenging, a steep 3D learning curve, and a year-long history lesson.”
Executive director Albert Mark said: “This is no sanitised Hollywood effort. It really gives an insight into what it was like on the Wall, with freezing cold night duty for recruits who had travelled a long way and would have been amazed by the size and scale of the Wall.
“Everything had to be technically correct and authentic, backed up by academic research, and we spent months and months getting it right.”
A Syrian archer who shoots a deer on a hunting trip reflects the cosmopolitan blend of the Wall population, who were catered for by the civilian settlement adjacent to the fort, both of which are re-created in the film.
Vindolanda Trust director Patricia Birley said: “We have several jewels in the crown as part of the £6.2m project and this film is one of them.”
Dr Andrew Birley, Vindolanda Trust director of excavations, said: “This fantastic new 3D film is at the heart of the completely remodelled Roman Army Museum. In some scenes you really feel you are right there, looking over the shoulder of the Roman soldiers.
“What is exciting for me isn’t just the fact that this film is a visual feast but also that it is packed with first-class educational material. Visitors will really enjoy this but also learn a great deal at the same time and with the £6.2m project we now have two world-class venues on Hadrian’s Wall.”
The new-look Vindolanda and Carvoran will be officially opened on April 19 by the Duchess of Northumberland.
TV historian and broadcaster Dan Snow said: “Vindolanda is one of the most important Roman sites in the world.”