Robin Hood (2010)

I’ve been reading Eleanor of Aquitaine and the Four Kings, Amy Kelly (1950), for, well, for years, a few lines at a time. I keep the book in a spot where I usually only have time for, say, a half page or less, not being one to dawdle. And now, in Robin Hood (2010), it’s spoiled for me in the first five minutes of the film. Unbelievable…I wasn’t interested in the movie until I listened to an interview with the director, who described the historical research that went into the script-making. I’m a total sucker for historical dramas, so I obtained the movie immediately.

Kermode and Mayo have been merciless re Crowe’s accent or accents in this movie. Northumberland residents writing in to the show, Irish-Scottish-Kiwish references made. Good example of ignorance (mine) being bliss: I can’t hear the problem. I’m postponing my plans to become wiser by learning the Northumberlish accent, at least till I’ve finished this movie.

Why would a major-league scriptwriter put dialog into these twelfth-century mouths like “We go all the way back, me and him.”  “Stay safe!”  “I love you all to bits!” “Don’t go in harm’s way!” and worst of all, “They’re men of the hood”?… And speaking of accents, William Hurt did just fine in The Yellow Handkerchief,(2008), with his Louisiana oil-platform speakin. But here, as a Norman noble, he looks pained and wisely lets out his assigned dialog, in barely disguised American, as surreptitiously as possible. King John to Hurt: “What the devil are you doing here?” which is what I was wondering, too… How many actual Englishmen are there in this movie? Any at all?…

Lot of black capes in this movie. Bill Russell wore a black cape. Velvet. You have to be a mighty cool dude to carry that off, and when I saw him in an S.F. restaurant with it on, he was…

Request for comment: Does a steel sword pulled quickly from a leather scabbard always give that mighty ringing sound?

Anyway, the history: 1200 A.D. is sort of early to be doing the English/French thing. Is it better to insist on getting the history right, or to just go ahead (splitting the infinitive) and make a movie full of nonsense because it, at least, introduces the subject?… There is something basicly wrong with this movie. It’s got the visuals, and Ridley Scott in good form, and the stars. Was it just me, wanting a Roberto Rossellini cinema history lesson, or was there something more going amiss here? Perhaps there should have been less history, to mitigate the nonsense. Yes, that’s it.  This is a fundamental good guys/bad guys tale, and the good are very good and the bad are melodramatically bad, and history isn’t; lose the history and keep the fable.

Jumping from Crowe’s Robin Hood to FanFan le Tulipe (1952) makes me realize, in contrast at least, how turgid R.H. is. Gérard Philipe  and Gina Lollobrigida leap off the screen in FanFan. Rotten Tomatoes has Robin Hood at 43%. I think that the MRQE graph gives a better idea of the critical situation: the movie is regarded as a solid C. Why? Because half the critics came in expecting some fun in the movie, and found none; instead, Robin gets the Blade Runner/Gladiator glowering glum trudging treatment, which, in sum, caused the reviewers to average out  with an “It was just OK” judgement.

Has someone done a chemistry comparison of the Robin/Marian couples in cinema? Do Crowe and Blanchett have chemistry? Together, I mean. She’s still Queen Elizabeth to me, even if she’s hanging out in the Saxon fields here. Crowe and Blanchett, the beauty and the beast… Flynn and DeHavilland, Connery and Hepburn, Costner and Mastrantonio, Elwes and Yasbeck, Bedford and Evans, Fairbanks and Bennett, Bergin and Thurman, Greene and Driscoll, Greene and O’Farrell, Todd and Rice. Ten couples to watch and rank on the romant-o-meter. I seem to recall Connery and Hepburn squabbling before one or both of them expires tragically. Bummer! Don’t end a Hood movie with a dead Hood, even if he’s a geezer!… Romance question: when one member of the couple, usually the female in the case of a heterosexual pairing, is grievously or mortally wounded, often with blood on, in, or about the mouth and lips, how often in real life do the man and woman go into a passionate lingering kiss? Seems like the suffering one would push off weakly, going “Jesus, Robin. Please…”

One thing that this R.H. got right: in the ’38 version, Flynn brings down a huge buck and later carries it into the noble’s banquet hall draped over his shoulders. The real thing would have weighed 500 pounds. In the final scene of the 2010 R.H., one of Robin’s men strolls along with what is essentially a fawn over his shoulders. Less dramatic, but there’s good eatin in those fawns!

The final climax with the bad guy ***spoiler alert*** struck me as a case of lazy writing or a need to wrap things up sooner than expected: bad guy spends whole movie doing bad things and then at the end, goes riding off. Robin steps up, nocks the shaft, draws, releases, and skewers the dude with a clean neck shoot at three hundred yards, from the top of a cliff (two-hundred-foot drop, say). Plot point checked off. Robin should be hunting mountain goats in Peru, or traveling with the circus.

2 Responses

  1. ‘ello there!

    To your question about swords. It depends on the swordsman. See if you hold your scabbard so and draw evenly up the middle it makes very little sound at all, but if as you pull you also push it hard to the side it will make quite a racket. So if you are a rake wanting to put the fear of God into someone you want your blade to sound like holy hell as you pull it out.

    Also, one should also remember the psychology of the viewer. If you are in front of a swordsman drawing his blade, it will concentrate your attention on all aspects of the sword.

    Lazarus Lupin
    arts and review

  2. I quite enjoyed Robin Hood. I mean it wasn’t remotely as good as Gladiator but I wasn’t expecting it to be. Very divisive film as seen by all the reviews by critics and bloggers alike.

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