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Monday, May 17, 2010

Spoiler questions, now that we've seen Robin Hood

click to enlarge HAMMER TIME: Russell Crowe as "Robin Longstride"
  • HAMMER TIME: Russell Crowe as "Robin Longstride"

1. What’s the leader of the “lost boys” got on his face? I get that in impoverished Nottingham, the young males have fled to the woods and steal food when they can, anticipating the future M.O. of the merry men. But why does one of them wear that weird mud mask, which looks like a cross between a pagan costume and prop from Zardoz?

2. Was Robin Hood's last name really "Longstride?" Nobody knows even if he was real or not, so it's probably an open question. In early 13th century records, real outlaws who come close to fitting the bill were Robert Hod and William Robehod. His first reference in English ballads was "Robyn hode in scherewode stod."

2. Wouldn’t a treaty simplify things for the French bad guys? The film’s early scenes establish that Prince John cast off his legal wife for slutty French royalty, Isabella of Angoulême. I’m sure the real history’s too complicated to compress, but if John married Isabella, wouldn’t that forge an alliance with the French that would preclude the need to invade England? (Incidentally, did you know that Isabella was 12 years old when she hooked up with the king? Even by the standards of medieval times, eww.)

3. Why don’t any of the Nottingham villagers remark on the ruse? Arriving in Nottingham, Robin Longstride continues his impersonation of Sir Robert of Nottingham, to widowed Lady Marian’s not unreasonable irritation. Why do all the mud-covered peasants go along with it? You'd think at least one of them would wonder why the knight now looks like the guy from Gladiator.

4. Why does Godfrey use French troops? Godfrey’s divide-and-conquer plot is to harass the English countryside in the name of King John, fomenting a rebellion against John to ease a French invasion of a disunited country. Complicated, but I get it. So why does Godfrey use French troops as his marauders? They don't seem to be disguising their nationality as they pillage their way across England, which would seem to inflame anti-French sentiment and defeat the purpose of the campaign. (I'm just glad the Tories and the Liberal-Democrats put aside their differences to fight the invaders at the end.)

5. Who killed Robin's father? In flashback, Robin recovers repressed memories of the death of his father, a stonemason who fought for human rights. Was Sir Max Von Sydow responsible, or just a witness? It looked like Von Sydow ordered it, which made Robin and Von Sydow's present-day cathartic embrace seem kind of inappropriate.

6. So did Robin Hood’s father write the Magna Carta? Robin uncovers an early draft of the Magna Carta and reads it to a crowd of revolting noblemen. (It's kind of like that "Star Trek" when Kirk recites the Declaration of Independence to a bunch of misguided aliens.) King John eventually was forced to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, but it was written by Archbishop Stephen Langton. Maybe he cribbed it from Robin's stonemason dad.

7. Why does Lady Marian ride into the final battle? Cate Blanchett establishes Marian as no damsel in distress: she stabs her would-be rapist and can shoot arrows and swing swords with the best of them. But the film establishes that she doesn't know her way around chain mail when she helps Robin undress, so for her to charge into battle, in unfamiliar armor, pretty much makes her useless.

8. What’s with the hammer? Robin Hood swings a long claw hammer when he charges against the French at the final battle. That particularly war hammer looks like a horseman's pick, designed for soldiers on horseback to use against armored opponents. Although it doesn't fit Robin Hood lore, it can be considered reasonably authentic/cool.

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