Thursday, 13 January 2011

Robin Hood

I'm quite a fan of Robin Hood.  I have three different varieties of the book (since the 'real' Robin Hood is in an epic poem--which I don't have--there are plenty of different versions of the story out there, some of them really rather different), and it's always been one of my favourite legends.  So when I saw this in the library, I figured it was high time I watched the film version.

Was it any good?  Well, I enjoyed it.  But I was watching it with my brother (who gave up about 15/20 minutes in) and my mum (who gave up about half way through).  So that's a one in three success rate.  Most of it was really rather impressive.  I liked the horses, I thought the acting was good, the plot seemed reasoanble enough although I spent quite some time trying to relate it to the book versions, until at the very end discovering that it takes place before pretty much anything in the books (depends which book you read as to whether Robin starts out as an outlaw or is made an outlaw in the first chapter or so).  The reason for my confusion was simple: as far as I'm aware, Robin Hood is conventionally set whilst King Richard the Lionheart is still alive, but captured, hence the increasingly high burden of taxes upon the population to pay for the release of the true king, and Robin Hood is not really an outlaw, but rather fighting for the true king of England against his usurping brother.  Instead, the film begins with the death of Richard and Robin and his men's return to England masquarading as knights, and the story instead revolves around the Magna Carter.  Ish.  It's historically somewhat dubious (although I confess my knowledge of the period is scanty).

Most of it, as I said, is good.  The big battle at the end, however, made me laugh (for the wrong reasons...).  Seriously.  Somebody wanted to film Saving Private Ryan, exchanging bullets for arrows and chain mail for body armour and helmets...  That part was painful, and somewhat undermined the credibility of the whole film.  Landing craft?  An all but identical sequence of shots to the opening of Saving Private Ryan?  No thanks.  The rest of the battle was actually pretty good--if only they hadn't done that stupid thing with the landing craft.

I won't be rushing out to buy a copy, and on the basis of the interest levels within my family, you probably won't be either (unless you're a major Robin Hood fan like me, in which case it is worth watching and I did enjoy it--some parts far more than others).  However, if I happen to see it on TV I'll certainly watch it again, perhaps get it from a charity shop in a few years.  There are some excellent bits, and for the most part the characters are well developed and believable--Robin Hood in particular.

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