14 May 2010

Movie Magic: new outing of a favourite outlaw

Robin Hood Memorial (Wikimedia Commons)
Traditionally the stories of Robin Hood and his merry band of outlaws who rob from the rich and give to the poor take place when King Richard is off fighting the Crusade in the Holy Land, with his brother Prince John back in England having usurped the Regency and playing at being King. They usually include the dastardly plot to keep Richard a prisoner by the Duke of Austria who captured him on his way home from the Crusades and is keeping him under lock and key at the behest of Philip of France (a canny politician if ever there was one!) and Prince John. Traditionally Robin Hood foils this plot by helping gather the ransom moneys and having them delivered to the Queen Mother Eleanor of Aquitaine who ensures the delivery of The Lionheart and upon his return to England thanks Robin for his services to the crown and rewards him by pardoning him his "crimes" against the crown and so he is no longer an outlaw.

Well that's not this story

(as I see this trailer again, I'm noticing quite a few scenes that were NOT in the movie! Will have to keep my eyes open for the "director's cut" dvd)

Ridley Scott has taken us to the end of the original timeline. Here the events take place after Richard has been released and is fighting King Philip over certain disputed territories in Normandy and Anjou (part of the eternal feud between the French and English kings over the English-held lands in France due to the invasion of England by the Normans... to think, all this bloodshed could have been avoided if William the Conqueror had just stayed home to be Duke of Normandy! :p ). We start off with the siege of a Castle, a confrontation, a death by crossbow, an ambush, the discovery of a plot... none of this which matters much to our hero who is fed up with war after 10 years in King Richard's armies and just wants to get home, wherever that may be. But his destiny appears to be hoisted upon him and our reluctant hero stops being so reluctant (as if anyone would be reluctant to have Cate Blanchett at his side!) and follows the path that will bring him to the legend.

I had my doubts as to a tale with an "older" Robin and Marian (other than Hepburn and Connery in the fabulous film Robin and Marian, which is a bittersweet telling of their end), but this one works fine  and placed in the context of the film their age makes sense (he's been off fighting for 10 years), she's no longer really a maid as she's been married to an absent Crusader husband for 10 years. Add to that how much faster people aged in the Middle Ages and the actors are a good fit for their characters.

As to the choice of time period, hey! Everyone's entitled to their own interpretation of a legend. These are legends that originated in the fogs of history and nobody truly knows if there was such a character, exactly whereabouts in England he roamed or what his origins and motives truly were. So one yarn is as good as another! I've certainly seen/read many different versions, and although I missed the light-heartedness and whimsy in earlier portrayals of Robin, the big history lover in me really enjoys this type of "historical" recreation (although I'm the first to point out there was no invasion of England after William the Conqueror's!). So if Ridley Scott and co. decide to go for another try with this tale, it looks like Robin Hood will be involved in getting the Magna Carta signed instead of helping rescue King Richard and keeping England safe for his return. Personally I wouldn't mind seeing that! Plus it would give us a Sheriff of Nottingham to root against... the iconic character everyone loves to hate (at his best when embodied by Alan Rickman) was pretty much absent here! :o(

That's it for the story. For the technical stuff: yes it's beautifully shot, the costumes, battles etc seem very authentic, the acting ain't half bad -Cate Blanchett brings us a very strong Marian and Russell Crowe a convincing reluctant hero- and the story moves along at a brisk enough pace that I didn't once check my watch to see how much was left and was surprised to see it end! The only thing that kind of bugged me (other than a few major historical innaccuracies) was the music, it felt a bit heavy-handed.

I know there's been some negative criticism towards it... but it's not supposed to be a big deal serious movie, it's a summer session with a legend! But I do miss the whimsy, and Sherwood... And yes, it is eerily similar to Gladiator... but I much preferred this! (I'm of a mixed opinion on Gladiator, depends on my mood, lol!).

Oh, one more thing... it unfortunately doesn't quite manage to erase Kevin Costner's horrible turn as Robin from my mind (I can't judge on the accents here, having sadly seen it in Spanish)... if I had a time machine now that's one interpretation I'd definitely go back and stop! Which is a pity 'cause I really enjoyed most of the rest of the movie. :p


  1. I had been wondering whether to see this movie, since the reviews were mixed and the trailers didn't excite me. I'll go see it, now, though, and let you know what I think! Thanks for the review!

  2. DJan, it is a fun movie, but like many reviews say it could be of any heroic character in the Middle Ages, it doesn't feel specific to the Robin Hood legend... but in a way that makes it original and I really enjoyed it! I look forward to reading your take on it! ;o)


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