Making the Grades
Directed by Ridley Scott, who is known for the likes of Gladiator and Hannibal, it should be fairly obvious that this envisioning of the English legend is not going to be family-friendly. Don’t expect any badminton playing chickens or silly snakes in this film. This Robin Hood is for the adult crowd—and perhaps the oldest of teens.
Russell Crowe stars as the outlaw, who is given the "real" name of Robin Longstride in this script. Having done battle against the French in the late King Richard’s army, Robin heads back to Nottingham to fulfill the last request of a dying knight by returning his sword to his family. Arriving in the village, he soon meets the man’s widow, who hasn’t seen her husband for over a decade. But Marion Loxley (Cate Blanchett) is not one to bathe in self-pity or rest on her family’s nobility. Instead she deals with helping her blind father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow), maintain their farm while offering charity to the peasants that surround them.
Now King John (Oscar Isaac) is on the throne, and when he’s not enjoying an adulterous relationship (we see a single scene depicting this activity with back and shoulder nudity) he is busy raising taxes. What His Royal Highness doesn’t know is his trusted adviser Godfrey (Mark Strong) is eager to collect extra taxes for more devious purposes. Hoping to fan the northern villages into a fury over the increased assessments, the ruler’s right hand man is banking on a civil war within the country that will allow his ally, the King of France, to walk in and take control.
With arrows flying like rain, parents can expect frequent depictions of men being killed in battle. For the most part, the violence is shown on a large scale, although some close-ups have more detail. Men are shot through the neck, others are crushed by horses, trees and chandeliers. Blood is sometimes included, as in a scene near the water where it begins to tint the ocean. Other sequences have a man impaled and another decapitated—although neither act is shown.
Robin and his men do take some downtime in Nottingham—especially when things are looking up for a day or two—and this provides a respite from the warfare. However when the men aren’t fighting, they seem to have other distractions. Little John (Kevin Durand) and Will Scarlet (Scott Grimes), make merry with some local wenches (again no details are seen) and Friar Tuck (Mark Addy) has a good recipe for turning honey into an intoxicating brew. On the other hand, Marion’s hard working demeanor keeps her busy and she isn’t anxious to begin another relationship with an enlisted man. Although a romance does begin to develop between our hero and heroine, sexual liaisons do not.
Fortunately profanities are nearly extinct in this period film. A single mild expletive and use of Christian deity are all that is heard. However the script manages to include a couple of veiled sexual double entendres, such as one very 21st Century remark comparing Little John’s name to his anatomy.
Focusing on the back-story of how Robin Longstride became Robin the Hood, he is portrayed here as more of a national hero than a man determined to level the social classes of rich and poor. Fighting for liberty and the good of his country, the hero manages to present himself as a man with reasonable ethics and morals. Artistically adequate (perhaps a little long, but otherwise reasonably engaging) parents will have to decide if the depictions of violence and King John’s promiscuous pastime are appropriate for their older teens.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Robin Hood.
An opening quote in the film states, "When the law oppresses people, the outlaw takes his place in history." How do you feel about the definition of "outlaw" in this quote? Do you see an outlaw as someone who fights against an oppressive government or as a criminal? How can you know the difference?
Is he fact or fiction? This British website (http://www.robinhood.ltd.uk) fills you in on all the research. And if you have ever wondered what you can do in Nottingham, they have a tourist website that is happy to provide you with ideas: www.nottinghambreaks.co.uk