Orbis Romanus (2008)
Director: Austin Haley, Edward Saint Pe'.
Starring: Ted Alderman (Captured Farmer I), David Allen Cruz (Lt. Darius Vespa), Stephen Donnelly (Vangio), Edward Saint Pe' (Saturius), Heather Thurgood (See-ress).
the back story of the Teutenburg Ambush, a massacred of the Romans by Germanic tribesmen; only 22 minutes long
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
In 9 A.D., during the reign to Augustus Caesar, the Roman Empire stationed three legions made up of about 20,000 troops in Germania. Their mission, the conquest of the German tribes. Under the command of General Quinctillius Varus, they were preparing to march through an uncharted section of Tutenburg Forest to quell an uprising near what is now the town of Osnabruk. The German tribal chief, Arminius, an ally of Rome, alerted General Varus of the uprising and vowed his tribe's support for the Romans. Saturius Aurelius, a veteran of the spy unit of the 17th Legion, was on the eve of his retirement and making ready to return to his wife, who he has been separated from for many years.
Aurelius is looking forward to coming home to his wife and home after so many years of fighting for Rome. An older man named Sabastees (?) comes over to him to wish him a happy retirement. Sebastees is a Roman knight, as is his daughter's husband, Arminius. He also says that Quinctillius is preparing to march to Osnabruk with three legions of Roman soldiers. [Osnabruk is in northwest Germany, Lower Saxony, west of Hanover and not far east of the border with the Netherlands. The Teutoburg Forest lies southeast of Osnabruk in Augustdorf, and is a range of low, forested mountains in the German states of Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia.] Aurelius acknowledges that Armenius is a great Prince of Germania and a loyal ally of Rome. Well, according to Armenius there is an uprising in Osnabruk. "It is a trap," says the father-in-law. "I have reason to believe that Armenius is in league with the other tribes and they are preparing an ambush." Aurelius says that Quinctillius would not fall for such a trick.
Sabastees says that Aurelius must look into this before he leaves for home. "Find the truth before Varus marches into a disaster."
Aurelius stops at the night fire of a fellow soldier, Lt. Darius Vespa. The younger man says that the troops have faith in the judgment of Aurelius and that's why they all want him to spy for them once more. Aurelius explains the situation tor the lieutenant and asks if Vespa could ride with him this one last time. "Of course," says Vespa.
Aurelius writes a letter to his wife.
The next morning the two men set out. They come upon an older woman named See-ress. The woman looks like a sorceress She tells the men that an ill-wind is blowing across this land. See-ress envisions that with a Roman defeat in Germany, Germany will have a bleak future. She envisions Germany's future complete with Hitler and the Holocaust. Aurelius has seen the same vision as See-ress and he doesn't like what he saw. She wants the Romans to win over the Germans for the sake of Germany itself. She gets up and leaves the two men.
The men sneak up to the tent of an important German commander. Two "spies" are brought to him. The two men look more like Arabs than Romans. Not knowing what Romans really look like, the commander says that he knows a Roman when he sees one and he gives the order to execute the spies. After the spies are taken away, the commander tells an aide: "Deliver these orders to Sidor. Any Roman survivors are to be executed. All of them. Leave their bodies burned and crucified to the trees. Let no roman escape alive."
The aide with another man starts their walk to see Sidor. The two Romans wait for them to pass and then they knife one man and take the other man to question him. The man, however, is able to get hold of his knife. As he talks, he suddenly rises and stabs Vespa. Aurelius now runs the man through with his sword. Vespa's throat has been badly nicked and he is bleeding badly. The Roman lieutenant dies while Aurelius tries to talk to him.
Aurelius starts running to tell his general what is happening. He runs into to See-ress who has been tied to a tree and badly wounded by an arrow. He cuts her down, but she looks in a dire condition. She tells him he must warn his general or it's disaster for the Romans. Aurelius says he will stop the general before he gets to the river. Now See-ress dies.
Aurelius takes off running as fast as he can. He reaches the river. He says a pray thanking the gods for sparing him and giving him the opportunity to save the Romans from disaster. Aurelius suddenly thinks he hears something. He stands up with his back to the river to look around. All of a sudden he is hit by two arrows in the chest. He falls down. He now knows that he is not going to make it home. Instead, he will have to meet his wife in the afterlife.
"General Quinctillius Varus and his three legions did cross the river into Tutenburg forest later that morning, directly into Arminius' ambush. Most Romans were killed; the few survivors were sacrificed to the German gods. The Battle of Tutenburg Forest is remembered as that battle that stopped Rome."
A really short movie. The only angle that makes the film a little interesting is the situation of the main spy, who, despite this being his retirement day from a long service with the Roman Army, stayed on for one more day with the Roman Army to check out a report that the Germans have set up an ambush of the Roman Legions. The hero is to find out if the report true, and if so, report it to General Varus. The problem is that we know from history what actually happened. The film is too short to really say much about the actors other than that they performed well enough.
Another interesting issue is the idea that it would have been better for Germany if they had let the Romans win and Roman unity might have brought greater stability to Germany and the Germanic tribes, thereby, hopefully, lessening the need for a Prussia with its tough militarism and avoidance to constant turmoil among the Germans. England was certainly better served by a Roman victory rather than an English victory.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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