Blind Men and Ostriches

russell crowe

The cruelties of Ancient Rome’s circuses give Frank an idea for an exciting new movie starring Russell Crowe…

One of the combat sports which thrilled the crowds in the circuses of Ancient Rome was the pitting of blind men against ostriches. A savage and ugly spectacle, no doubt, and one quite out of keeping with our modern sensibilities, to say nothing of health and safety legislation.

Yet I can’t help feeling that it would make a tremendous subject for a Gladiator-style movie blockbuster. The Antipodean player Russell Crowe – or, as I prefer to think of him, the Artist Formerly Known As Bouffanted Rockabilly Star Russ Le Roq – is so talented an actor one can imagine him playing either a blind man or, caked in prosthetics, an ostrich. What with the computer generated wizardry available to today’s film-makers, he could appear on our screens as both antagonists, and indeed, his image multiplied a thousandfold, as the baying blood-crazed crowd.

I may put my mind to drafting a screenplay, in which our hero is, let’s say, an Ancient Roman haruspex who is blinded when a struggling chicken whose entrails he is attempting to rip out pokes its taloned feet into his eyes. From there it is a short and sorry journey to the Colosseum, where an enraged and starving ostrich awaits. It strikes me that, if there is a need to do the film on the cheap, a high-tech ostrich outfit could be dispensed with. Russell Crowe is, famously, a knitting enthusiast, and given the right wool he could knit his own ostrich costume.

Add a musical soundtrack of bumptious ditties by Randy Newman, and I suspect this could be a surefire hit.

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About Author Profile: Frank Key

Frank Key is a London-based writer, blogger and broadcaster best known for his Hooting Yard blog, short-story collections and his long-running radio series Hooting Yard on the Air, which has been broadcast weekly on Resonance FM since April 2004. By Aerostat to Hooting Yard - A Frank Key Reader, an ideal introduction to his fiction, is published for Kindle by Dabbler Editions. Mr Key's Shorter Potted Brief, Brief Lives was published in October 2015 by Constable and is available to buy online and in all good bookshops.

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