THE LAST LEGION
About The Production
When principal photography began in Tunisia in August 2005, THE LAST LEGION finally became a reality. More than six years ago, Martha and Dino De Laurentiis started toying with the idea of making an action film based upon the fall of the Roman Empire. For the producers, the film had the makings of an epic adventure with the intimate story of a boy and his protectors at the heart.
"We based the idea on the book by Valerio Manfredi—The Last Legion—but combined that with historical facts and what was already known about the last Roman Emperor," says Martha De Laurentiis. "Nobody really knows what caused the fall of the Roman Empire and we decided to use that backdrop of chaos to tell the story of the last Emperor, a young boy, and his attempt to save the Empire. The fact that he was only 12 years old was at the root of the story."
The story follows the historically accurate fortunes of the 12-year-old Romulus Augustus, the last Roman Emperor who briefly rules the city before his parents are killed during the capture of Rome and he is banished to the fortress island of Capri. The story then speculates on what might have happened immediately thereafter. It follows the adventures of the soldiers still loyal to Caesar, who engineer his escape and then flee to distant Britannia, in search of the one legion still loyal to Rome.
Once the screenplay was completed, the next task was to find a director who could combine the contrasting elements of the story successfully.
Dino's daughter Raffaella De Laurentiis suggested Doug Lefler, as she had previously worked with him on DRAGONHEART 2. Both Raffaella and Martha thought he was the perfect choice: "Doug is an artist as well as a great action director. He could combine the epic scenes with the more intimate ones. He has a lot of experience working with the best action directors and his experience with animation gives him a clear idea how to tell a story. From the outset, he knew how he was visually going to tell this story, he storyboarded every single frame."
Doug Lefler explains how he became involved and what appealed to him about the project: "I was in a bookstore doing research on another project when I got a phone call from Raffaella De Laurentiis asking if I would read the script for a movie she and her father were working on. I read it that night and the next day I called her and said I would love to do it. This project is similar in a lot of ways to another film that she gave me about seven years ago, called DRAGONHEART 2, but bigger, grander and more complicated! The story is seen through the eyes of a 12-year-old child and that's the thing that was really fascinating to me. It's a very human, but also an epic story—an intimate epic. The film is very grounded in the characters, even though there are these huge events are going on around them. As a director, the most you can hope for in a project is that you get a compelling story and a good cast. I was lucky to get both."
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