Cathy and David at the Movies: Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”

This isn’t a proper “Cathy and David at the Movies” column, because our publisher, “The Inside Story” (parish magazine of St Paul’s Box Hill) is in abeyance at the moment; and because Cathy isn’t here to add her two bob’s worth – although what I write here is a shared opinion arising from our discussion after seeing this movie.

Jim Schembri, the film reviewer at The Age, gave the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe film “Robin Hood” 2 stars (actually, I note that he has scaled that down to one on his blog). Margaret and David were rather more enthusiastic, giving it four and four and a half respectively.

I would give it a three star rating. Cathy and I both agreed that it was a good film, but for two things:

1) It should have been called “Robin of Locksley” – as it really deals with the way Robin became the Lord of Locksley, rather than how he became Robin Hood the outlaw. That would leave things open for a good sequel (which I doubt will happen – you don’t get sequels to this kind of movie or with actors like Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett). This was one of Schembri’s main complaints, that the film ends “where the story ought to begin”. The current title of the film sets you up for expecting Robin and his Merry Men against the Sheriff of Nottingham. If it had been called “Robin of Loxley”, you would have been much more prepared for a historical drama rather than a remake of the old legend (which you really don’t get). In the end, the story they present borrows as heavily from “The Return of Martin Guerre” as from the traditional Robin Hood story.

2) There is a real clanger in the character shift of King John at the very end of the film. Okay, I know, historically John was a crafty bit of work who would give promises to get action and then reneg on them at the last minute. Quite the modern politician, actually. However, after making him nice and nasty at the beginning, the director actually transforms King John (and yes, he is King, not Prince, in this story – they get it right and have Richard dying on the battle field in France, not returning to England) into a sympathetic character – and then they go and throw this back in your face at the very end. It isn’t a nice way to treat an audience. In the last minute of the film there is therefore a sudden lurch in the narrative train of thought that leaves you feeling quite disorientated. It is as if they suddenly thought, “Oh, bugger this, let’s just cut the rest and go to the end”.

But aside from these two negative comments, it was a good enjoyable film. Lot’s of fun. I think the must unjustified complaint from Schembri is about Robin’s “decidedly gloomy, never mind merry, men” – the film that I saw had them having plenty of merry ol’ fun. AND a really good traditional Friar Tuck (who is sadly missing from the TV series).

PS. Also, I note that the IMDB “goofs” entry for this film lists as “factual error” that “Catholics did not burn the bodies of loved ones during this time period. The church taught that burned bodies could not be resurrected on judgment day.” When I saw them burning the body of old Sir Walter Locksley, I leaned over to Cathy and remarked “They got that wrong – a little too much Lord of the Rings, I think.”

PPS. The landing of the French soldiers at Dover seems almost exactly like the D-Day landing in Saving Private Ryan, right down to the design of the boats, and the bodies floating in the water – only arrows, not machine guns. Cf. These two screen shots for comparison:

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3 responses to “Cathy and David at the Movies: Ridley Scott’s “Robin Hood”

  1. Louise

    Thanks, David, I might head off to see this sometime soon.

  2. Christine

    Is the same Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe magic evident that was present in Gladiator? I REALLY liked Gladiator!! Although I see you are only giving a three star rating so perhaps not.

    I loved the old “Robin Hood” series starring Richard Greene that we used to watch here in the States back in the day.

    Christine