Daily Archives: 22 May, 2010

Robin Hood – the film review

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.

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Filed under Medieval history, Uncategorized

Mobilised, volunteered or Joined? Great War recruitment

I’ve managed to get hold of a copy of the Portsmouth section of the National Roll of the Great War. This volume was compiled in the early 1920′s, and compiles many of the men from Portsmouth who fought between 1914 and 1918 – casualties and survivors. It is not a complete list, however – we suspect that families had to pay for their menfolk to be included. But it is a useful source none the less.

Each entry tells us the man’s name, initials, rank, and unit that they served with. It also includes a brief biography, such as when the person enlisted, where they served, if they were wounded, and often the circumstances of their death. Crucially, it also gives their house number and street. Therefore I have been able to add some information about some of the names on my database.

One thing that we can learn a lot from the National Roll is when exactly men joined the Armed Forces. A small amount of men were regular soldiers who had enlisted prior to 1914 – but a small number, given that Britain had a relatively small army in 1914. Sadly most of these men seem to have died earlier on in the war with the original BEF.

A significant amount of men were also mobilised in August 1914. This suggests that they were men who were serving with the Territorial Army, or were ex-regulars liable for recall to the Army. Interestingly, more men seem to have fallen into this category than the regulars.

Popular myth suggests that most men who fought in the Great War volunteered in August 1914, along with their mates joining the crowds outside Town Halls. While a large amount of men did join the Army in August 1914, there was a steady trickle of men volunteering until early 1916, as they came of age or felt able to join up.

With grevious losses on the front, however, the Government was aware that conscription would have to be introduced. Therefore from 1916 onwards most men are recorded as having ‘joined’ – otherwise, they were conscripted.

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Filed under Army, portsmouth heroes, Uncategorized, World War One