Robin Hood (2010)


Today on the Old Mole, Denise Morris and I discussed Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and directed by Ridley Scott. We went hoping to see some stealing from the rich and giving to the poor, but this version is more about defending the nation-state and the rule of law. Or something.

Robin Longstride is a disillusioned warrior who returns from the crusades, pretending to be the noble Robin of Locksley, whose dying wish was to have his sword returned to his father. Locksley senior, played by Max Von Sydow, recognizes Robin as the son of a stone mason who helped draft the Magna Carta (no, really), and encourages the charade in order to keep the king from taking the land from the widowed Lady Marion Locksley, played by Cate Blanchett. When Nottingham has no seed-corn left but what the church claims, Robin blackmails Friar Tuck into helping to steal it back and plant it by night. Meanwhile, Guy of Gisborne is out to get Robin because he knows too much about Guy's plot to turn the nobles against King John and thus prepare for an invasion from France. But Robin reconciles the nobles to the King by getting him to promise to sign the agreement, and so they all defeat the attempted French invasion. But John doesn't really want to sign, so he declares Robin an outlaw, and he and Marian and the merry men and the feral children go off to live in the greenwood, and presumably have the more familiar adventures of wealth redistribution.

Judy Cox draws on historian Eric Hobsbawn's discussion of Robin Hood as an example of social banditry:

"Social banditry … is universally found, wherever societies are based on agriculture, and consist largely of peasants and landless labourers, ruled, oppressed and exploited by someone else - lords, towns, governments, lawyers or even banks."

This is the real heart of the Robin Hood legend. Wherever people are oppressed and beaten down by tyrants, but without the means to fight back on their own behalf, they will dream of an avenging hero, one of the people, but with the freedom, courage, and ability to right their wrongs on their behalf….the violent yeoman standing up against the bishops in the ballads; the unruly Robin of the May Games with his challenges to the authority of the church and state; Ritson's radical Robin; Keats's poignant symbol of hostility to capitalist society; Errol Flynn's anti-Nazi Robin, and the 1950s TV series starring sturdy Richard Greene, and written by Ring Lardner Jr and Ian McLellan, who were blacklisted in McCarthyite witchhunts. …

You can also learn more about versions of Robin Hood here.

Or, watch The Adventures of Robin Hood, as written by blacklisted writers.


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