Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Robin Hood (2010)

Here is a joke that I heard the Kalamazoo conference.

Q. A bunch of medievalists go to see Robin Hood. How many of them bitch about the inaccuracies?

A. twice as many!

I was not particularly in a hurry to see this film and I wasn't excited about it, because I have seen so many versions of Robin Hood. On the other hand I am a sucker for Ridley Scott films, and members of my family went while I was in Kalamazoo and told me that the movie was very entertaining. I decided to go today. And I found that liked it quite a bit.

If anybody reacts to this post at all, I expect that some of them will exclaim, "what about King John burning Magna Carta?" Well, one can say that he sort of did, didn't he? Just not literally, and not while all his barons were standing around looking at him. I'm just glad Magna Carta got into a movie in the first place, even anonymously. Name another medieval movie where Magna Carta is mentioned. Go on, I'm waiting.

Here in point form are some things I really liked about this actual as opposed to the ideal Robin Hood movie.

  • Like Kingdom of Heaven, the whole thing had the air of reality when it came to material objects, clothing, armor, and landscapes. Anybody who knows anything about what people wore in the time of King John to point to many details that were wrong, but the feel of the thing was very good.
  • Some of the panoramic views, especially of the ships, were very good; actually better than that.
  • It had more than one woman it in a speaking role, , and none of them were androgynous, mysterious, hardly human beauties like the android in Blade Runner. Came close to this standard. For Ridley Scott, this shows a certain amount of restraint.
  • One of the best interpretations of Marion in any Robin Hood. Of course I'm influenced by the fact that Cate Blanchett played the part, and she has that filmmaking genius which makes almost any part better and strangely convincing.
  • Loved the the surprise ending. I guess Ridley Scott knew that I didn't want just another run through the traditional post-Walter Scott story.
  • A lot of people went around speaking French at appropriate times.
  • Robin Hood in Barnsdale stood.
Anyway, I am sure that anybody who cares to can find many problems, but I was pleasantly surprised and quite entertained.

Oh yes, the music was the usual British folk takeoff, but I love that stuff and it was was well done. Great Big Sea rules!

Update: I forgot William Marshal! Is this his first appearance in a big-time movie, or was he in Lion in Winter? If he was it was a small role.

9 comments:

  1. "Saving Robin Ryan" was a great 2/3s of a movie, actually right up to the appearance of the medieval Higgins landing craft and Cate Blanchett in armor, when it turned into a masterful remake of "Men in Tights." My giggles probably upset the rest of the showing's audience, especially when they came during the exciting invasion scene and the ludicrous ploughing scene. I can't wait to get the DVD so I can pause it and examine a few things that Scott hastily panned past!

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  2. I'm glad to hear your thoughts. As a 13th century specialist, I, too, was thrilled by the possible Magna Carta setting, the fact that William the Marshal is in it, and the whole context of conflict with the French that is such a part of the early 13th century. We're going to see it tonight.

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  3. Steve, does this mean I can't mock as much as I'd like?

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  4. "Robin Hood in Barnsdale stood."

    Oh, that's awesome! Now I wish someone would set a RH story under a King Edward for once (which one, I don't care -- take your pick).

    One of my students called it "Saving Private Ryan meets Elizabeth, with about as much historical accuracy." The pithiness of that cracked me up, but I don't know how fair it is. But I liked both of those movies (and I actually liked Gladiator -- I'm also a sucker for Ridley Scott) so I may see it.

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  5. ADM: I don't mind some good mockage, or people disagreeing with me (much), but I find much film criticism by academics tiresomely predictable and beside the point. Got some wit? Mock away!

    folo1: So what did the barges used to invade England (or for planned invasions like the Spanish Armada) look like? Also Marion in armor didn't bother me. It could have been ridiculous.

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  6. The entire LOTR would likely fail "the rule". And Beowulf. And the tales of Sinbad.
    I am trying to picture a couple of women in a great hall in, say, Eoforwic saying to each other....Well, I don't listen to bards unless there are at leasst two women in it. That talk to each other. About something other than men. Wanna scrounge up some lutefisk at my place?

    A movie is but a movie. I wasn't going to bother, but Steve, if you recommend it, I may well take few hours out and willingly suspend my disbelief. Heck, I discovered that much against my will, I enjoyed "Firefly", so I might well enjoy this!

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  7. William Marshal was awesome in Lion in Winter: secondary role, but spot on whenever he appeared. Best moment: who do you send to collect Richard the Plantagenet Killing Machine from his cell? William Marshal and two spear carriers. Marshal deploys his pawns with precision, and is in exactly the right place at the right time.

    Perfect.

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  8. Brian J.8:35 pm

    Being essentially a tall tale himself, I don't really mind seeing Robin Hood placed in a full-on alternate history (as I like to think of it). That being said, have there been any film renderings of the story that were diligent in their historical veracity?

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  9. Of course, the cited example of the standard leads us back to a movie with two named female characters in speaking roles who talk to each other about something besides men: Alien, by Ridley Scott.

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