Friday, May 14, 2010

Feared by the bad, loved by the good...

Steven D. Greydanus did not enjoy Ridley Scott's new version of Robin Hood with Russell Crowe in the title role:
.... I’m sick of movies that seem obsessed with rubbing our noses in the supposed harsh reality behind our romantic illusions of nobility and courtesy — especially in our age, when the harsh reality is taken for granted, and the romance and nobility and courtesy are all but forgotten.

Here is a small example. On the eve of the siege in which he will fall prey to an archer’s arrow, King Richard, noting Robin’s courage and honesty, asks him candidly whether God will be pleased with Richard’s sacrifice. Somberly, Robin answers that by massacring innocent Muslims they have become godless men. Specifically, he recalls a Muslim woman whose last look was not one of fear or hatred, but pity. (Bad Crusades! Bad!)

Richard’s capricious response to Robin’s candor is to have him clapped in stocks. You see, Robin is brave, honest — and naïve. Betcha didn’t see that coming, huh?

Now here is another story about an archer and Richard’s death, from Wikipedia. Spotting a defender on the castle walls with a crossbow shooting at him, Richard was amused and applauded the archer — until a shaft went home. Later, the archer was captured and brought before the dying king, whose wound had become gangrenous. The archer (who said he was avenging family members killed by Richard) expected to be executed — but Richard, in a last act of mercy, pardoned him, gave him 100 shillings and sent him on his way. Isn’t that a better story than Richard clapping Robin in stocks?

Where Kingdom of Heaven made a flawed but credible effort to treat the Church with some measure of even-handedness, Robin Hood can’t be bothered. “Between the sheriff and the bishop,” Marion snaps, “it’s hard to say who is the greater curse on common English folk.” She says she’s praying for a “miracle,” namely, that the bishop (never seen) might show “Christian charity” and not rob the people of the seed corn they need for planting. At least there’s a suggestion that Christianity itself is better than its leaders. ....

In other productions, Friar Tuck often serves as a positive if not especially pious clerical type. Here Mark Addy’s Tuck is at pains to make clear that he is “not a churchy friar,” and certainly he’s given nothing “churchy” to do or say. .... [more]
Others seem worried that the film may be interpreted as having contemporary political relevance.

My primary concern is that Hollywood has once again wasted a great deal of money ruining a perfectly good story when they had the resources to do it really well. Perhaps Ridley Scott should return to science fiction where his propensity to make stuff up does less harm to either history or legend. I think I'll wait for this one on cable and, in the meantime, watch my Blu-ray of 1938's The Adventures of Robin Hood in Technicolor with Errol Flynn as Robin and Claud Rains and Basil Rathbone playing the villainous parts.

Robin Hood (2010)