A few days ago I went to see the new Russell Crowe/Ridley Scott Film Robin Hood.
Now, Robin Hood is one of those great myths of folklore that everyone knows. Except, there is no real concrete proof about any of the details. Sure, there are probably grains of truth there somewhere in the midsts of time, but like most myths, its likely that they have undergone a game of chinese whispers.
This film does not pander to the perceived wisdom of Robin Hood – if you’re looking for something to get penickity over every little ‘historical accuracy’, you’ll enjoy this one. Its a liberal reworking of the story. The story begins with Richard the Lionheart’s Army beseiging a castle in France on the way home from the Crusades – pretty inaccurate to say the least. There the Lionheart is killed. Robin of Locksley was killed in the aftermath, and his identity was assumed by Robin Longstride (Crowe), an Archer, accompanied by his band of men.
Upon returning to England, Longstride delivers the Crown to the new King John. Longstride and his men then made their way to Nottingham, where Crowe’s character fully assumes Locksley’s character. Meanwhile King John’s ally Godrey proves to be a French agent who is fermenting rebellion and a French invasion. John sees the light in time, and the Baron’s join forces to repel the invasion at the white cliffs of Dover. After their victory, however, John reneges on his promise of freedoms for his people. Only then, at the end of the film, do Longstride and his men become outlaws and take to the woods.
Once you get away from the fact that its different, its actually quite an imaginative reworking. Sure, its not historically accurate, and it doesnt fit in with the ingrained myth. But Robin Hood has only ever been a myth anyway, and is it such a bad thing if you digress from a myth? I think in terms of the social history – clothes, terms of address, behaviour, lifestyles – it seems pretty accurate to me.
Aside from the historical considerations, its a very enjoyable film – as you might expect the action scenes are great. There are a handful of Crowe-esque action film cliches, but perhaps that is to be expected. And, interestingly, the ending leaves a sequel not only possible, but likely.