Saturday, May 15, 2010

Robin Hood

I often enjoy historical movies, so today I saw Robin Hood with Russel Crowe. I've only seen one Ridley Scott film before - Blackhawk Down - and Robin Hood turned out to be much worse. The villains were too evil, the heroes too lovable, the battle scenes too similar to the ones in all the other Hollywood movies with swords in them - in fact all of the ways in which this movie was bad turned out to be as cliched as its plot.

No, I didn't expect this to be an English equivalent to Andrey Rubliov, but if Scott throttled down his bad guys' scowling even just a little, his film would have benefited from it.

The man who played King John looked like a younger and much, much less talented version of Rowan Atkinson. Cate Blanchette became too old to play a major movie star's romantic interest so long ago that it really made me question Scott's judgement. He presumably made the plot idiotic in order to attract the largest possible audience, but it didn't occur to him that making lady Marian pretty would have advanced the same exact goal without forcing him to look like a fool himself?

Russel Crowe was OK, but the actor who played sir Walter was spectacular and clearly the only one in the cast who looked comfortable impersonating a nobleman. I just looked him up, and it turns out that his mother was a baroness. Wow. 

The scene where the king of France tries to invade England was deliberately made to remind the viewer of old photographs of D-Day. I have no idea what the point of that was. 

There was a mild anti-government message in the movie. I pay taxes too, so I was all for it, but as a history nerd I know that the sentiments depicted were pretty ahistorical, at least for the medieval common man. The feudal system encouraged constant warfare between petty landlords. The average guy usually ended up rooting for a strong centralized state because only it could reign in the nobles, the knights and the bandits.

The modern state has gone far beyond its original function of securing law and order and now redistributes wealth from the productive elements of society to unproductive ones. This has given these productive elements a reason for hating the state that in the Middle Ages would have simply been unknown. In the actual, historical Middle Ages the only people who wanted to limit the power of kings were usually their nobles.

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