Robin hood – Russell Crowe, Ridley Scott – Movie Review
GETTIN' MEDIEVAL ON YOU, AND LOVIN' IT
published May 18, 2010
There is history.
There is myth. And somewhere in between approved fictions and neglected realities is
Perhaps weary of
tights, director Ridley Scott chooses to literalize the legend of Robin Hood, grounding it in the
reality of the Crusades. Robin Longstride, a common archer in the Crusader army of King Richard the Lionheart, assumes the identity of a dying
knight on the way home. Returning the man’s family sword to his father, he is asked to stay on as the dead man. He takes his wife, Lady
Marion, and settles in the forest village of Nottingham. Grain is short. Orphans play Lord of the Flies in the woods. Unaffordable taxes are
In faraway London, the new King
John has an army to pay, a treasury to fill, and a mistress to please. What better way than to wring more taxes from the already impoverished
countryside? He sends an army to collect. Little does he know they are French horsemen at the command of a traitor, the prelude of a French
plot to take over England.
What happened to “steal from
the rich to give to the poor?” Robin Hood features barely any noble thievery, as Scott pursues grander historical and thematic scale. I’m just
glad he was able to work in both a French invasion and the Magna Charta. I was worried for a minute that we’d miss out on one or the
As history, all these things
are nonsensical in combination. But Scott’s concern isn’t so much that era as this one. Like
Gladiator, he stuffs the modern world into the trunk of history. Sometimes he leaves an arm
sticking awkwardly out the rear.
Some of the critical chatter
about the film, such as that by Village Voice media critic Karina Longworth, has fallen on its allegiance toward Tea Party politics – the
faraway king taxing the peasants into the dirt in order to pay for licentiousness and foreign adventures. There’s a favorite conservative joke
– “Robin Hood didn’t steal from the rich to give to the poor. He stole from the government to give to the taxpayers.” This film seems aware of
As Robin Hood, Russell Crowe
returns close to form. Opposite a wily Cate Blanchett, he shows that quiet muscularity that American stars no longer seem able to produce. At
the head of a cavalry charge, mysteriously missing his helmet, grumbling attractively to his men about liberty, Crowe relieves Scott’s
apparent Braveheart envy.
If there’s one thing I’m a sucker for at the movies, it’s medieval warfare. The way teen-agers
today feel about watching a giant robot transform into a Plymouth? I feel that way about ancient technology – battering rams, fiery flocks
of arrows, dumping flaming tar over the castle walls. When soldiers raise their shields skyward in a turtle formation, I nearly
So that makes me a complete
sucker for Robin Hood – a dark pastel of muddy battlefields, grungy blue forests, and a wildly
vivid filmmaking display. The battle scenes are brawny and frantic, alive with perfect sound. If you love movies, there’s simply no way to
watch the creation of such a brilliant fictional space and walk out of the theater unsatisfied.
film of enormous visionary scope, in which even fireside singalongs take 74 cameras to shoot, with perfect props, convincing sets, and
super-imaginative detail, Robin Hood is all the positive things associated with Ridley Scott with
only a fair scattering of the negatives. Robin Hood might be the ridliest and scottiest of all
Ridley Scott movies.