Birth of a legend. Following King Richard's death in France, archer Robin Longstride, along with Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale and Little John, returns to England. They encounter the dying Robert of Locksley, whose party was ambushed by treacherous Godfrey, who hopes to facilitate a French invasion of England. Robin promises the dying knight he will return his sword to his father Walter in Nottingham. Here Walter encourages him to impersonate the dead man to prevent his land being confiscated by the crown, and he finds himself with Marian, a ready-made wife. Hoping to stir baronial opposition to weak King John and allow an easy French take-over, Godfrey worms his way into the king's service as Earl Marshal of England and brutally invades towns under the pretext of collecting Royal taxes. Can Robin navigate the politics of barons, royals, traitors, and the French? Written by
don @ minifie-1
In the Director's cut of the film on DVD, the French land in "Dungeness" (in the theatrical version it is never identified by name). Dungeness is a flat marshy area with no cliffs as depicted in the film. The area looks more like Dover, which would have been a more likely choice to invade since it is somewhat closer to France than Dungeness, although not considerably so. See more »
Robin Hood, Robin Hood riding through the glen, Robin Hood with his band of Merry Men: you will get none of that in this new verison of the legend. With Ridley Scott Russell Crowe have created new type of Robin Hood for these an audience who want to gritty verison the legend who has been constantly re-invented.
1199, England has been suffering from the heavy burden of taxation to fund Richard I's (Danny Huston) wars and the countryside was suffering from social problems with war orphans running wild. Richard I's army was marching through France to get back to England after the Crusades and looting and the raiding the French as much as possible whilst on the way. Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) and his friends are archers within the army. When Richard I died in battle they fled and Robin assumes the identity of a English lord who has been murdered in an ambush. Godfrey (Mark Strong), an English knight and an adviser to King John (Oscar Issac) secretly meets with the French with a plot to make the new king unpopular and force the nation into civil war, thereby weakening England and making the kingdom easy to invade. Robin goes to Nottingham and gives the news to Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow) and Lady Maiden (Cate Blanchett) that their son and husband has died. They suggest that Robin continues to pretend that he was really Sir Robert Loxley and as the man Robin becomes a leading figure to unite the kingdom to stop the impending invasion.
Scott is one of the best directors around for historical film: he has shown a great skill for taking people back to another time and show what the period would have been like (even if he has to take a few liberties to the historical facts). With Robin Hood he shows that the Medieval period was dark and dirty, even for members of the gentry. Battles are hard and brutal, though they is a lot less blood then there was in Gladiator, which is a shame. Scott, with his screenwriter Brain Helgeland, set out a more complex, balance picture. Richard I was not made out to be the great king people think he is because of his heavy taxation and ruthless nature. John was made out to be someone who was dogmatic and naïve, but not someone wanting to be a tyrant just for the fun of it. He was portrayed in a more sympathetic light to what has been shown in the past. It was Godfrey who was the main villain and in the Medieval period national loyalty was not such a big issue as it is today. This is all refreshing to see when most films just show a black and white world.
Scott delivers some excellent battle scenes in this film during. But he slows the film down long enough to allow the plot to develop and adds a little bit of humour. This is however a less bloody epic to allow a slightly younger audience to see it. There is the theme of the idea of a king's right to govern, but this is mostly an action, not a historical film about Medieval government.
Crowe and Scott reunite again and Crowe gives a solid performance as a rougher and tougher Robin. Blanchett too is solid as an older Maiden, showing she is a tough woman who also willing to fight: a woman that properly would not have existed in this period. Strong shows once again that he is a excellent villain, having stared in Sherlock Holmes and Kick-Ass, a man who thinks about his own self interest. Strong has been making a good career as villain for hire and he was the strongest actor in the film. The American in this English set film did well, William Hurt was very strong as the wronged advice in the King's court, whilst Huston seemed to be having a blast as Richard I and obviously shows he is not as noble he seems.
Helgeland wrote a clever script, showing Medieval ideology and a complex political situation. His previous Medieval film was A Knight's Tale, which he wrote and directed. But with Robin Hood he seems to have grown up as a writer and gives this film a little more of a complex plot and shows a bigger picture. He also cleverly mixes different aspects about how the legend has changed, like how Robin starting as a commoner and pretends to be a higher ranked man. The film also covers its bases by showing the two sites places that claim to be Robin's home, Nottingham and Barnsdale. However this film felt like an origins story, a start to a new film series. This is Robin Hood that has not been seen on screen like this before. Hopefully if there is a sequel then Matthew MacFadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham would get a bigger role. Robin Hood is also historically suspect, with events and dates being changed and made up, some ideas and culture also seems to be the victim of artistic license. But Scott knows that storytelling requires character development and show a more balanced picture, particularly with historically set films. At least this film does accept that it is a piece of historical fiction.
An enjoyable summer flick.
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