Ann "Babe" Huggett
May 20, 2010
This chick does flicks: Robin Hood
By Ann "Babe" Huggett

Historical action flicks starring Russell Crowe are always a fun way to spend some spare time and, when your nearest neighbors out here in the high desert of Arizona have their second homes burglarized, going to see Robin Hood seems especially apt. However, if you are expecting a recounting of all the fun Robin Hood escapades of literary yore then turn on the TV and hope that the AMC Channel is doing a retrospective of Errol Flynn movies instead.

Quite frankly, director Ridley Scott's 2010 version of Robin Hood is all over the board myth-wise and did I say, "historical"? How about ahistorical instead? While Hollywood is notorious for playing fast-and-loose with facts, at least modern day films try to make up for it with cultural anthropological accuracy. However, when a movie like Robin Hood expects us to believe that the French had 12th Century versions of WWII Normandy D-Day landing crafts or that it was perfectly normal for well-to-do ladies like Marion to don peasant garb or mix it up on the battle field in chain mail drag then it's time to hang public school history teachers out to dry.

Or, as my British husband would say, "Ridley Scott was taking the mick out on his audience's intelligence."

Anyone, and I do mean anyone, who thinks that medieval peoples paid their taxes by chaotically flinging gold coins at tax collectors' heads hasn't a clue about just how rare gold coins were in the daily life of the English peasantry (English money is in pounds STERLING, remember?) or how thoroughly record keeping has been done throughout history. And no good Christian medieval lord would be cremated upon death when his estate included a church. Or how about geography? In Robin Hood, it's implied that the French landed at the White Cliffs of Dover, which they never did in real life, but in the movie, those cliffs weren't white, that beach was sandy instead of pebbles and the real cliffs go on for miles rather than petering conveniently out for an English equestrian charge. And do not get me started on using a 19th Century style white horse hill carving as a meeting place for disaffected English barons.

Quite frankly, my husband is right: the movie is insulting right down to its implications that Robin Hood's daddy drafted a prototype of the Magna Carta.

Be that as it may and despite the insertion of some early-in-the-movie politically correct crusader revisionism hallucinations by scriptwriter Brian Helgeland, Russell Crowe at least wears his dirt and grime well even right down to shimmying convincingly out of his chain mail hauberk. Cate Blanchett as Marion of Loxley is at her icy best until she tries to pass herself off as a revenge-driven knight taking on an experienced swordsman. Man! I'm telling you, when Robin frenches Marion in the waves on that ersatz Dover beach, visions of from Here to Eternity get all jumbled with "serfs up!"

Max von Sydow feigning blindness as Sir Walter Loxley at least provides the excuse he needs for not seeing how badly the movie drags on. There's some surprise casting with William Hurt as courtier William Marshall and Mark Strong as the traitorous Godfrey is a sad commentary first on the type casting of a brilliant actor into mere villainous status and then glossing over the fact that the real Godfrey was that friend of the French, Geoffrey, King Richard and King John's middle brother, who died at age 27 of jousting wounds.

Speaking of baddies, Oscar Isaac as the lecherously slimy King John is a shining example of egotistical and greedy incompetence on the hoof. Eileen Atkins' bloodless performance as Eleanor of Aquitaine makes it hard to believe that the real lady of history actually rode into battle on an elephant as a bare-breasted crusader alongside her first husband, King Luis VII of France. Mathew Macfayden is barely a blip on the movie radar screen as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

As to the rest of the cast, they play their parts credibly but, unlike their beloved literary characters of English tradition, Friar Tuck, Little John and Allan A'Dayle, they are lost in the translation. Ridley Scott's Robin Hood is 140 minutes of sheer, grinding torture for anyone with a decent British Heritage education. Better to dig out the old Richard Green Robin Hood TV series on YouTube if you really want a ride through the glen with some Merry Men.

© Ann "Babe" Huggett

 

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Ann "Babe" Huggett

Ann "Babe" Huggett is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer and the Associate Editor and Publisher of TheRealityCheck.org. She is the co-owner and moderator of Free Britannia.org, a conservative British-American site dedicated to events affecting the Anglosphere... (more)

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