This Russell Crowe/Cate Blanchett 2010 Robin Hood is yet another story behind the untold legend but it is an exciting tale, well-enacted, and deserves to be right up there with the best-known classics: Douglas Fairbanks Jr. (1922 – silent movie), Errol Flynn (1938 — The Adventures of Robin Hood), the Richard Greene BBC black and white television series (1955), Sean Connery (1976 — Robin and Marion), the British TV series first starring Michael Praed, then Jason Connery (1984-86), Kevin Costner (1991 — Robin Hood Prince of Thieves), and, now, this Russell Crowe version.
I’ve been a Robin Hood fan since the Richard Greene series in the 50s (many now available to view on YouTube), and you can see I’ve not included the Disney cartoon version in my list, nor the Robin Hood: Men in Tights, both of which I’ve never seen, and never intend to see. Until the Costner version, most of the presentations included many of the same stories centering around Robin Hood being a serf (or a commoner) turned outlaw due to injustices under the regency of Prince John while King Richard was off fighting wars on the continent. The Costner version, made him the son of a noble, and the sheriff, a man allied with a witch and involved in deep black magic.
This version, returns to the idea that Robin is a commoner, but one turned soldier and fighting with King Richard in France. The King dies, his retinue returning to the ship with his crown, is attacked. They are all wiped out but the villains are run off by Robin and his few staunch supporters who are in the process of deserting. The head of the royal guard dies after charging Robin to return the crown to England and his own sword to his father, the Earl of Loxley, Marian’s father-in-law. Robin quickly decides that the only thing distinguishing themselves from the royal guard is their garb, so they don the guards’ clothing, mount their horses, and impersonate them successfully all the way back to London. When Robin reaches Loxley, it’s to Marian’s and the Earl’s advantage that he continue the deception, and so he does.
When Phillip invades England, King John needs the northern barons to join him in defending his realm but they only agree because Robin has found a “charter” that will curb his powers, and restore some peace and justice to England. I loved this part because the Magna Carta of 1300 has been on display in Ottawa during July along with its counterpart, the Charter of the Forest. I was able to go to see the exhibition which included an interactive translation, displays about the roles and restrictions on the various levels of the feudal system, the Magna Carta’s impact on countries around the world, and places in history where its legacy was ignored for a time. (You can see the tour dates to find out if the exhibition is coming to a museum near you.) So I found this angle an interesting twist on the original tales, and was not surprised when King John, after achieving victory over the invading army, set the charter alight. Ha! He just had to sign it later!
I’m not sure I would call this a “classic” movie, but it was certainly full of action, familiar characters (although Marion has a much different role than we’re used to seeing), and enough variations on the main theme to make any Robin Hood fan want to add it to their collection. * * * *