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Friday, May 14, 2010
Robin Hood (2010 film)
It is late 12th century England and Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe) is a common archer in the Third Crusade. Following the death of Richard the Lionheart in battle, Robin and three other common soldiers attempt to return to their homeland, having spent ten years fighting abroad. Along the way they come across an ambush of the King's guard by Sir Godfrey; an English Knight with French lineage. The King of France had ordered Sir Godfrey (Mark Strong) to assassinate Richard. Having discovered the King is already slain Sir Godfrey is chased off by the arrival of Robin and his companions. Aiming to return to England safely and richer in pocket than they left it Robin and his men steal the armour of the slain Knights and head for the English ships on the coast under the guise of noblemen. Before leaving the scene of slaughter Robin promises a dying Knight, Sir Robert Loxley, to return a sword to the man's father in Nottingham.
Upon arrival in England, Robin (who has assumed the identity of Loxley) is chosen to inform the Royal family of the King's death and witnesses the crowning of King John (Oscar Isaac), who is the younger brother of the recently-deceased Richard. The arrogant King John shows no remorse to his poor Kingdom and demands harsh taxes to be collected, sending Sir Godfrey off to the North with the task of raising revenue. Unbeknownst to King John, Sir Godfrey is an agent of the French King and uses this Royal Decree to stir up enough unrest to cause Civil War in England.
Robin and his companions head to Nottingham, where Loxley's father, Walter (Max Von Sydow) asks him to continue impersonating his son, in order to prevent the family lands being taken by the crown. Loxley's widow, Lady Marian (Cate Blanchett), is initially distrustful of Robin, but soon warms to him when he recovers taxed grain for the townsfolk to plant.
Meanwhile, Godfrey's actions have stirred up the northern Barons, who march to meet King John, and demand the signing of a charter of rights. Having realised Godfrey's deception, and knowing he must reunite his people in order to meet an imminent French invasion, the King agrees. A battle follows shortly where Godfrey's men are interrupted whilst ransacking Nottingham, and chased off by Robin and the northern Barons.
The film climaxes with an invasion on England's south coast by the French, who are met as they land by the English army. The English are victorious in the ensuing battle, during which Robin slays Godfrey with a well placed arrow from a long distance. In the final scenes, King John reneges on his word to sign the Magna Carta, and declares Robin to be an outlaw. In response, Robin moves to Sherwood Forest to form what will become the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest and win the accolade of Robin of the Hood (Robin Hood), becoming a legendary figure in English folklore.
Russell Crowe plays Robin Hood; it is his fifth collaboration with Scott. Having loved the character since childhood, Crowe joined the project despite being initially displeased with the script. He spent 10 months reading books about the character and his historical basis, noting, "This has got to be the best [Robin Hood depiction] ever done, otherwise I should be doing something else." Crowe put on weight for 2008's Body of Lies, so Universal considered sending an NBA trainer to Australia to coach him back into fitness. Crowe trained with a bow and arrow for four months and was able to hit a target from 45 meters.
Cate Blanchett as Lady Marion, the strong-willed, intelligent widow of Sir Loxley. Becomes Robin Hood's love interest.
Mark Strong as Sir Godfrey, King John's henchman. When interviewed in November 2008, Strong stated the character was originally called Conrad and was based on Guy of Gisbourne. He described him as having blond hair and a disfigurement from being struck by a crossbow bolt.
Oscar Isaac as King John of England, younger brother
Mark Lewis Jones as Thomas Longstride, Robin Hood's father.
Mark Addy as Friar Tuck.
William Hurt as William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke.
Danny Huston as King Richard the Lionheart. The English King who dies besieging a castle in France.
Eileen Atkins as Eleanor of Aquitaine, King Richard and King John's mother. Vanessa Redgrave was originally cast for the part, but pulled out after the death of her daughter, actress Natasha Richardson.
Max von Sydow as Sir Walter Loxley.
Matthew Macfadyen as the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Kevin Durand as Little John.
Léa Seydoux as Isabella of Angoulême.
Scott Grimes as Will Scarlet, Robin's nephew.
Alan Doyle as Allan A'Dayle. Crowe enlisted Doyle to play the Merry Men's minstrel, having collaborated on the album My Hand, My Heart.
In January 2007, Universal Studios and Brian Grazer's Imagine Entertainment which produces the hit American TV show 24 acquired a spec script written by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris, creators of the TV series Sleeper Cell. Their script portrayed a more sympathetic Sheriff of Nottingham and less virtuous Robin Hood, who become involved in a love triangle with Maid Marian. The writers received a seven-figure deal for the purchase. Actor Russell Crowe was cast into the role of the Robin Hood with a salary of $20 million against 20% of the gross. The following April, director Ridley Scott was hired to helm Nottingham. He had attempted to get rights for himself and 20th Century Fox, but had collaborated with Grazer on American Gangster and signed on as director rather than producer. Scott was not a fan of previous film versions of Robin Hood, saying "the best, frankly, was Mel Brooks' Men in Tights, because Cary Elwes was quite a comic".
In June, screenwriter Brian Helgeland was hired to rewrite the script by Reiff and Voris. Producer Marc Shmuger explained Scott had a different interpretation of the story from "the script, [which] had the sheriff of Nottingham as a CSI-style forensics investigator". Scott elaborated the script, portraying the Sheriff of Nottingham as being Richard the Lionheart's right-hand man, who returns to England to serve Prince John after Richard's assassination. Though Scott felt John "was actually pretty smart, he got a bad rap because he introduced taxation so he's the bad guy in this", and the Sheriff would have been torn between the "two wrongs" of a corrupt king and an outlaw inciting anarchy. Locations were sought in North East England including Alnwick Castle, Bamburgh Castle, and Kielder Forest. A portion of filming was intended to take place in Northumberland. As a result of the WGA strike, production was put on hold.Scott sought to begin production in 2008 for a release in 2009.
Filming was scheduled to begin in August in Sherwood Forest if the 2008 Screen Actors Guild strike did not take place, for release on 26 November, 2009. By July, filming was delayed, and playwright Paul Webb was hired to rewrite the script. The film was moved to 2010. The Sheriff of Nottingham's character was then merged with Robin. Scott explained Robin "has to retire to the forest to resume his name Robin. So he was momentarily the Sheriff of Nottingham." Hedgeland returned to rewrite, adding an opening where Robin witnesses the Sheriff dying in battle, and takes over his identity. Scott chose to begin filming in February 2009 in forests around London, having discovered many trees which had not been pollarded. Scott was also pleased that the 200 acre Nottingham set that was built during 2008 had aged into the landscape. By February 2009, Scott revealed Nottingham had become his version of Robin Hood, as he had become dissatisfied with the idea of Robin starting as the Sheriff
Filming locations gallery
Mock castle at the Bourne Wood at the end of filming, showing the burnt-out castle gate, Bourne Wood, Farnham, Surrey, 8 August 2009.
Burnt out gate of mock castle and battering ram, Bourne Wood, Farnham, Surrey, 8 August 2009.
Filming the fight scenes on the beach, Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 23. June 2009
The beach filming, Freshwater West, Pembrokeshire, Wales, 23. June 2009
Filming began on March 30, 2009. In June and July, the crew filmed at Freshwater West, in Pembrokeshire, Wales. Extensive scences from the film were filmed on the Ashridge Estate, Little Gaddesden, on the Hertfordshire/Buckinghamshire borders. Filming also took place in the Bourne Wood at Farnham, Surrey during July and August and in Dovedale near Ashbourne, Derbyshire
The battering ram used during the filming at the Bourne Wood in Surrey, which was nicknamed 'Rosie' by the film crew and is worth £60,000, was donated by Russell Crowe to a Scottish charity, Clanranald Trust, to be used for battle re-enactments at a fort built in a forest near the Carron Reservoir in North Lanarkshire.
The film opened the 2010 Cannes Film Festival with its premiere on May 12, 2010. It was released in the UK on May 12, and in the US on May 14.
Reception for the film has been mixed. It holds a 46% overall approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 155 reviews with a average rating of 5.4/10, with the selected Top Critics giving the film a score of 45% based on 29 reviews. Metacritic gave the film 62% based on a normalized rating of 6 reviews.
Roger Ebert gave the film 2 stars out of 4, saying that, "Little by little, title by title, innocence and joy is being drained out of the movies". Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, writing that, "The problem with Russell Crowe's new take on the legend is that it has one muddy boot in history and the other in fantasy. The middling result is far from a bull's-eye."
Russell Crowe received criticism from the British media for his variable accent during the film. Empire said his accent was occasionally Scottish, while Total Film thought there were also times when it sounded Irish.Mark Lawson, while interviewing Crowe on BBC Radio 4, suggested there were hints of Irish in his accent, which angered Crowe and caused him to walk out.
In the film, king Philip Augustus of France is shown as keen to invade England, and actually attempts it. Quite the opposite was the case: Richard the Lionheart had been attacking the borders of the French kingdom and Philip was on the defensive. Philip did conquer Normandy after Richard's death, but he personally did not invade England. After John broke the terms of Magna Carta, Philip's son was invited by the English barons to invade.
The film shows John negotiating a "bill of rights" immediately after becoming king. No such event took place. The Magna Carta was signed 16 years after John became king, following a dispute with his barons. It provided rights for noblemen, not for all citizens.