Birth of a legend. Following King Richard's death in France, archer Robin Longstride, along with Will Scarlett, Alan-a-Dale and Little John, returns to England. They encounter the dying Robert of Locksley, whose party was ambushed by treacherous Godfrey, who hopes to facilitate a French invasion of England. Robin promises the dying knight he will return his sword to his father Walter in Nottingham. Here Walter encourages him to impersonate the dead man to prevent his land being confiscated by the crown, and he finds himself with Marian, a ready-made wife. Hoping to stir baronial opposition to weak King John and allow an easy French take-over, Godfrey worms his way into the king's service as Earl Marshal of England and brutally invades towns under the pretext of collecting Royal taxes. Can Robin navigate the politics of barons, royals, traitors, and the French?Written by
don @ minifie-1
The first part of the end credits are in the same style as Ridley Scott's production company 'Scott Free Productions'. See more »
The director's cut contains additional 15 minutes of scenes, more graphic violence and the following changes: (* denotes as new scene)
*Before the Battle of Charus, A valet wakes up King Richard. He starts from his sleep and seems apathetic before dousing his head in a bowl of water.
*The Battle of Charus has an additional sequence: a flaming arrow is fired, sets the oily ground ablaze. This caught an English soldier, screaming and squirming before another arrow hits him and he collapses dead onto the ground
The shot of the gate exploding is replaced with a ground-up alternate shot. It's a top-to-ground in the theatrical cut.
*The ramming of the castle gates and the background battle is longer. A French soldier falls down from the walls on to the English soldiers as well.
*When Richard is hit, there is a stertorous shot of him and the questioning look of Sir Robert is added.
As King Richard is drinking his last slug of wine, the wine mixed with blood now flows out from the wounds; it's not visible in the theatrical cut.
The scene of Marion meeting the clergymen now appears earlier, right after the Charus battle.
*Godfrey threatens Robert to torture him while a lance is stuck on his chest.
The scene where the Sheriff starts scuffling with Marion is now moved up earlier, after Robin buries Robert in the forest.
*When the ship reaches the Thames river, there is an additional shot of men rowing the boat. The captain informs Robin that they're setting course to the Tower of London. A delegate then informs Robin of how to address the proper behavior in front of Eleanor (King Richard's mother).
*As Robin and his men leaves the Tower of London, Godfrey's men follow them.
*While Marion collects herbs from the woods, a group of children wearing straw masks appear and claim her belongings. She recognizes them by their voices and tries to reason them.
Robin and his men riding through the forest now appears earlier.
*Little John offers to help Robin to return the sword to Sir Walter but Robin declines - he doesn't want them to put themselves in jeopardy.
*When Robin and his men are asleep, they are raided by the runaways. Suddenly a group of horsemen appears from the darkness and Robin awakes, just in time to notice the attack. The others awake as well and they manage to repulse the horsemen attack. One of them is killed by a trap.
*Godfrey's henchmen track Robin and sound the population. A peasant points the direction of Robin and his men heading.
*At the English soldier's camp, Godfrey sneaking through is longer. After greeting the French soldiers, they sneak back into the camp and kill the soldiers in sleep. Next, Godfrey rides to meet one of his men who told him that Robin killed his soldiers. He then ordered the French soldiers to ride to Barnsdale.
The scene of Robin and Marion talking about Robert is moved up earlier as well.
*While hunting, Robin is caught by the runaways and taken prisoner to their camp. To his surprise, Marion knows of the hide-out and is part of the group. He promises to teach them how to fight since they have a common enemy.
*At the forest glade, Robin and Marion encounters a group of peasants trying to rescue a goat from the bog. She tries to rescue it but falls into the bog. Robin, secured by the rope, jumps in but rescues the goat first before her. After Marion is on the ground well, the Sheriff appears, claiming tax on her. Robin pays him one gold. Because of that, the sequence of Robin and Marion looking amorously in the theatrical cut is removed.
*The night party at Loxley is longer with Little John bringing in a barrel of mead.
*William Marshal and his men arrive at the village. He has a talk with Walter on the current political situation when Robin and Marion approach.
In the flashback, the close-up of Sir Walter is replaced with a two-shot of William and Walter.
*Before the battle at the English coast, there is an additional line by William Marshal to Robin: "Your father is a great man, and you're your father's son."
*There's an additional shot of Godfrey killing Sir Walter with a close-up of the penetrating sword.
*A French soldier tries to rape a villager during the raid.
*Robin collars a French soldier and tries to force him to reveal the position where the French army plans to come ashore. In order to do that, he chains him to a wall, aims at him with bow an arrow - and hits. He continues to interrogate until the soldier caves in. A shot of the Sheriff in this scene has been removed.
*The fight at the English coast is longer, including an additional shot of King John rams his sword into the prostrated enemy's chest.
A Very Dark And Different Take On A Familiar Story
This is not exactly Robin and his merry men, nor is this Errol Flynn swashbuckling and laughing his way through merry old England as he gets his jollies battling the sheriff of Nottingham. No, this particular take on the story of Robin Hood is very different - like none you've ever seen before. Even the historical setting is changed from what's usually offered. Here, rather than waiting out the evil regency of Prince John and his minions until King Richard returns from the Crusades, Richard is already dead. His death comes very early on in the movie in battle in France. John is the King of England in this movie, and rather than an unselfish "robbing the rich to give to the poor" type character, Robin (actually in this movie Robin Longstride, who finds himself impersonating Robert of Locksley and becomes known as "Robin of the Hood") is a more complex character. I wouldn't say exactly noble - especially in the beginning - and his battle is not so much for the poor as it's a battle for the "rights" of the English people, as he eventually takes on what seems to be the fight to get John to sign what I assume is Magna Carta, and at least temporarily has to ally himself with John to help lead the defence of England against a French invasion.
The different historical setting is a bit disorienting to be honest - especially at first - but it also gives a degree of unpredictability to what's going to happen, and once you get a sense of where you are, when you are and what the fight is about it's easy enough to understand what's going on. Russell Crowe did a commendable job, I thought, in this alternate portrayal of Robin, and Cate Blanchett was most certainly a different kind of Marion. She's not the Maid Marion of legend. She's tough, she's a fighter, she goes into battle with the French - although not leading the battle, there's almost a Joan of Arc quality to her (minus the voice of God.) I was quite taken with Oscar Isaac as King John. He took the part and made it real. John came across as I would expect him to from the historical record - shifty and conniving, untrustworthy, quite willing to make and break whatever alliances are necessary at any given moment to ensure his survival as King and sometimes quite befuddled by his responsibilities. Perhaps a weakness was the fact that there was no real focus on Robin's men. Really only Will Scarlett (played by Scott Grimes) and Friar Tuck (played by Mark Addy) were significant elements in the story, and even they weren't particularly important.
The sets and setting were good. This felt like I imagine England in the late 12th-early 13th centuries would have felt like. Rough, brutal, dirty. It worked for me. The battle scenes (and there are a lot of them) are very well done. Since the movie ends with the caption "And so the legend begins" one wonders if a sequel might be in the works, perhaps detailing the struggle leading up to the actually signing of Magna Carta? If so, I'd definitely watch it. This was quite good! (8/10)
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