The Eagle With The Sunlit Eye

We drove it to extinction. We brought it back. Can we learn to look it in the eye?

The White Tailed Eagle is one of the largest birds of prey on the planet. For generations, humans have struck an uneasy relationship with this apex predator. We persecuted it to extinction in Britain a century ago - and then the 1970s saw this greatest of eagles brought back to our wild edges.

The return of this apex predator sparked controversy, as accusations of livestock killings quickly surfaced from Scotland’s rural community. Despite no record of predation in Norway, and with an Irish reintroduction scheme ongoing, in Scotland a war of words rages on over the future of this raptor.

This film dives unflinchingly into the conflict, just as the fire burns white hot. Pulling back the curtain on the reintroduction process, combining breathtaking visuals with heart stopping action, and even turning the cameras onto the filmmakers themselves, this epic documentary ultimately asks us - will we ever learn to live alongside the eagle with the sunlit eye? And what will we lose if we can’t?

Press Assets & Versioned Trailers available here -

  • Ted Simpson
    The Cull - Scotland's Deer Dilemma
  • Finbar O'Sullivan
    The Cull - Scotland's Deer Dilemma
  • Ted Simpson
    The Cull - Scotland's Deer Dilemma
  • Finbar O'Sullivan
    The Cull - Scotland's Deer Dilemma
  • Tom Kirkman
  • Charlie Key
  • Josh Guyan
  • Ted Simpson
    The Cull - Scotland's Deer Dilemma
  • Claire Stevens
    Sound Design
    A Year In A Field
  • Gemma Gilbert
    Stills Photography
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Wildlife, Conservation, Human Interest, Environment
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 32 minutes 18 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 18, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    24,000 GBP
  • Country of Origin:
    United Kingdom
  • Country of Filming:
    Ireland, Norway, United Kingdom
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Ted Simpson

Ted Simpson is a documentary filmmaker fascinated by stories from the wild edges, where people and nature collide.

He is best known for his first documentary feature, ‘The Cull - Scotland’s Deer Dilemma’, an intelligent, thought provoking film that delved deep into the fiery debate surrounding deer management and rewilding in the Scottish Highlands. Created in close collaboration with producer Finbar O’Sullivan, the film allowed space for each voice in the debate to be heard, posing questions to the audience and challenging them on their preconceptions throughout.

This ‘engaging and stunningly beautiful’ debut was incredibly well received on the festival circuit, winning Best Environmental Film at Kendal Mountain Festival, and Best Natural History and Mountain Environment Film at Banff Mountain Festival in 2020, amongst other selections and accolades. The film is currently available for distribution through Espresso Media.

‘The Eagle With The Sunlit Eye’ represents Simpson and O’Sullivan maturing their storytelling style while pulling on this same thread, exploring a story of our complicated relationship with wildness, with breathtaking results.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

The story of our relationship with the white tailed eagle is at once complex, fascinating, inspiring and heart breaking. For me, it goes to the heart of how we interact with the wild world. Over history we have revered this bird - with eagle remains found next to ours in neolithic tombs - yet persecuted it to extinction, only to pioneer predator reintroduction and bring them back into our ecosystem. This saga distils the sense that we as a species seem at unease with either participating in or ruling over nature. The latter, which we cannot seem to resist, leads us knowingly to our peril.

Our documentary is an ambitious attempt to bring this story to an audience, to lay these contradictions bare. We do not attempt to tell the whole tale, merely the latest chapter. We wanted to give a voice to those who passionately fight to bring this apex predator back to their barren ecosystems, as well as to those who see that action as a threat to their very way of life. It contains a cautionary tale, lessons that must be learnt before undertaking other vast ecological changes such as other reintroductions.

But most importantly, this film explores the emotional connection we have with the sea eagle, the soarer, the eagle with the sunlit eye. We see on the faces of our contributors adoration, fear, loathing, excitement, worry, love. Predators incite a feeling in us that nothing else in nature can. It awakens a connection with the wild world that many fear has laid dormant so long it is now lost. Watching this film, we want the audience to understand the complexities and the facts of this debate, but to also feel the emotions tied up in it. These emotions rule our relationship with the wild - and they always have.