"Spoiled by Liberal White Guilt"
Director Ridley Scott (KINGDOM OF HEAVEN) continues his assault on the Christian Crusades against the invading Muslim jihadist armies of Mohammed and his followers in the Holy Land in ROBIN HOOD. Happily, the movie is not about the Crusades but about the history of England in 1199, mostly after King Richard the Lionheart was slain while storming a castle in France.
A reference in the movie to one of Richard’s past actions during the Third Crusade, along with a couple other problems, spoil what is a competent but overly serious postmodern take on the legend of Robin Hood. The biggest mistake, however, may be the attempt to add more historical realism to what is, in reality, a mythical legend. In this case, the legend is more interesting than the history. Once again, the Golden Age of Hollywood (see THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD with Errol Flynn) gave moviegoers much more entertaining, cinematically pleasing renditions. Even so, this ROBIN HOOD has enough positive content in it that it cannot be completely dismissed.
In this version of the legend, Robin Hood’s story opens in 1199 in France, at the castle where Richard the Lionheart did indeed finally lose his life at 42 (Historically, the castle was much less well defended than depicted here, and Richard was accidentally pierced by an arrow in the neck and lingered for several years when gangrene set in. He did not die on the spot as this movie depicts). When Richard dies, Robin Longstride and a few of his fellow archers in the army decide they’ve had enough of war. They start making their way to England, but on the way, they come across a party of French warriors, led by the traitorous Englishman Godfrey, attacking the men carrying Richard’s crown back to Prince John, Richard’s younger brother.
Robin and his friends fight off the soldiers, and Godfrey gallops away. Richard’s right-hand man, Robert Loxley, lies dying. Loxley left his wife, Marion, to fight in the Crusades with Richard 10 years ago, after an argument with his father, Walter. Loxley took his father’s sword without permission. Robin promises the dying Loxley he will take the crown to John and take the sword back to Loxley’s father.
Fearing Prince John and the nobles in London will think Robin and his men stole Richard’s crown after killing Loxley, Robin decides to pose as Loxley himself. John and the Chancellor of England, Sir William Marshall, don’t detect Robin’s ruse, though Marshall is suspicious. John’s mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine (see the movie THE LION IN WINTER with Katherine Hepburn), crowns John the new King.
Soon, it becomes clear that John hated his brother Richard and Chancellor Marshall. After John becomes king, the traitorous Godfrey shows up. John and Godfrey grew up knowing each other. John is anxious to tax the Northern barons and their vassals to pay for his dead brother’s countless wars. Marshall disagrees with John’s plan to squeeze more taxes out of the people, but Godfrey agrees with him, so John makes Godfrey his new chancellor. Secretly, however, Godfrey plans to sew dissension between King John and the people, using some French troops that have secretly landed in England. Godfrey’s dastardly plan is in preparation of a massive invasion force, led by King Phillip of France.
Meanwhile, Robin, posing as Sir Robert, returns to the Loxley estate in Nottingham with the sword. Surprisingly, Robert’s father proposes that Robin continue to pose as Sir Robert, because, otherwise, Robert’s wife, Marion, could never legally inherit the father’s estate when he dies. This would leave Marion completely destitute. Marion doesn’t particularly care for this plan, but she puts up with it, because her father-in-law is right about the inheritance.
Despite the huge Loxley estate, Nottingham is very poor because of the government’s high taxation and the greed of the local bishop, who’s based in nearby York. Making matters worse, all the teenage boys in the village have turned to banditry because their fathers have all been away fighting in Richard’s army during the Crusades and Richard’s wars in France. The teenage bandits have stolen all of the seed for the Loxley estate, and many of the farm animals. Despite Marion’s pleas, the nearby bishop in York refuses to give any of the church’s seed to the Loxley estate, which is now on the verge of starvation. All she wants is some Christian charity, Marion tells the priest who has come to take the church’s seed to York and the bishop. Under cover of darkness, Robin and his friends, with help from the local friar, Tuck, steal the seed on its way to York and plant the stolen seed on the Loxley estate.
It becomes clear that, with her husband dead, Marion is beginning to develop affection for Robin, and vice versa. Their budding romance is interrupted by Godfrey and his French marauders. In the meantime, King John has learned of Godfrey’s betrayal and turned to William Marshall for advice.
All this sets the stage for the final confrontations between Robin Hood and Godfrey, King John and the barons, and the English and the French.
ROBIN HOOD has its fun moments, but connecting the legend more completely with the actual history of England in the 12th Century pulls the teeth from some of the fun. Also, because the biographies of Richard the Lionheart and Prince John, and the history of England at that time, are so complex, the filmmakers still have to telescope a lot of history into a two-hour movie. Consequently, the movie’s plot gets a bit complicated, and some revisions of history must be made to fit the legend of Robin Hood into history in a way that viewers have not seen before this.
Sadly, a few politically correct liberal anachronisms creep into the story. These anachronisms dilute and confuse the movie’s Christian worldview and conservative values.
Although some of the good guys, including Robin Hood and Marion, are shown to be chivalrous Christians who pray, there is an early scene where Robin and King Richard discuss an historical incident during the Crusades. Eight years ago, during Richard’s siege of the Muslim-controlled town of Acre near Jerusalem, Richard killed 2,700 Muslim hostages during a truce. Robin tells Richard that he saw the Crusaders kill an old woman, and Robin knew then that Richard and his army had become “Godless.” Richard punishes Robin for his comments, but Richard dies shortly thereafter.
Richard’s killing of these Muslim hostages did indeed take place in 1191, but the historical record also indicates that they were only Muslim soldiers and noblemen, not women and children. Furthermore, Richard took the Muslims hostage as a guarantee that the Muslim leader, Saladin, would also release a couple thousand Christian hostages and prisoners that his armies had. That was part of the truce that Saladin had agreed to when it became clear that the Crusaders were going to conquer Acre. Finally, Richard waited three weeks beyond the time limit for Saladin to fulfill his promises. Thus, it was only when it became clear that Saladin was lying to Richard and either had no intention of fulfilling the terms of the peace agreement or was trying deceitfully to wrangle better terms from Richard, that Richard ordered most of the hostages be put to death.
Of course, the filmmakers conveniently leave out all this background information. They clearly want to make the Muslims look like innocent victims, so they hide the real truth.
The filmmakers add to this revisionist, Pro-Muslim history during the end credits to ROBIN HOOD. In the abstract animation of the end credits, they show a group of Muslims bowing in prayer and then show a European soldier killing an apparently defenseless Muslim, with a red background simulating blood.
Clearly, therefore, Director Ridley Scott is still displaying the liberal white guilt about the Crusades that he also displayed throughout the movie KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Contrary to popular opinion (including Mr. Scott’s), the Crusades were not a symbol of European, Christian aggression against Muslims and Arabs. In reality, the Crusades were a defensive response against 464 years of virtually constant Muslim, Arab, Turkish, and Egyptian military conquest, oppression and brutality in the Middle East and beyond, from 630 A.D. when Mohammed and 30,000 Islamic jihadist warriors launched the Tabuk Crusades against the Byzantine Christians to 1094 A.D. when the Byzantine Christian Emperor appealed to Pope Urban II and Europe for relief from the Muslim hordes. Apparently, according to today’s Muslim jihadists and their liberal, leftist sycophants in the United States and Europe (not to mention Ridley Scott), Americans, Christians, Jews, and Europeans don’t have the right to defend themselves from such murderous jihadist thugs.
On the positive side, however, this movie contains strong positive Christian content. It also contains very strong patriotic elements supporting England. Also, there is a great scene between Robin Hood, the barons and King John where Robin defends the principles of liberty in the Magna Carter, which the barons eventually forced King John to sign at Runnymede in 1215. Of course, besides the text of the Bible (which is the Word of God), the principles in the Magna Carter are the ancient political, economic and philosophical foundation on the United States and Great Britain rests. It is British principles of liberty like these that led to the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
Regrettably, however, in the movie’s final scene, a comment is made about Robin Hood, Marion and Robin’s men retiring to the woods to live after King John betrays them and declares Robin an outlaw. In that scene, narration by Marion says that, among them, there is no rich or poor, and that they all “share equally” in the fruits of nature. This Communist, socialist dialogue contradicts the conservative sentiments Robin Hood expresses earlier when he addresses King John and the barons.
Thus, once again, the movie contradicts its Christian, patriotic, conservative values with more examples of liberal white guilt. Not only that, but there appears to be some moral relativism in the movie. For example, Robin lies in order to return to England. Also, he is asked to lie to help out Marion because her husband has died. These moral problems are balanced by some positive moral elements stressing liberty over oppression and high taxation, loyalty, patriotism, helping the needy, and other moral, conservative values. Robin Hood even acknowledges the right to private property when he tells King John, “Every Englishman’s home is his castle.”
All in all, therefore, ROBIN HOOD is clearly a mixed blessing. Also, though it contains no really salacious content and no graphic violence, it does have some sexual innuendo, brief foul language and strong action violence of men getting shot by arrows, medieval battles and the like. MOVIEGUIDE® recommends extreme caution mostly for the movie’s worldview problems.
(CC, BB, CapCap, PPP, RHRH, Co, So, FR, L, VV, S, N, AA, MM) Strong, but slightly confused, Christian, moral worldview with some strong conservative, implied capitalist values such as liberty, private property (Robin Hood says every Englishman’s home is his castle) and admonishments not to tax the people so high, very strong patriotic elements, and some overt politically correct revisionist history and liberal politics, including a line of dialogue at the end that sounds Communistic, socialistic and a couple brief, ultimately false Pro-Islamic elements, one at the beginning of the movie and one over the end credits, that turn Muslims into defenseless victims; two or three obscenities (one of which is in French but not translated), three strong profanities and a couple light profanities; strong medieval action violence such as arrows hit soldiers, arrows pierce a few necks, sword fights, battles between medieval armies, men and people catch on fire as castles, fortresses and villages are besieged, villain’s soldiers try to burn civilians alive in a structure but fail, soldiers knocked off horses, people in danger of drowning, etc.; implied fornication in two scenes/shots and a few lightly crude innuendoes and glances; upper male nudity, out of focus rear male nudity, and some female cleavage; alcohol use and drunkenness (including Friar Tuck clearly likes his alcohol-infused mead); no smoking; and, treason, stealing and high taxes but mostly rebuked, but some lying and deceit are not rebuked.
ROBIN HOOD stars Russell Crowe as the iconic, legendary hero. In the movie, set in 1199, Robin Hood supports the liberty of the people against King John’s unreliable rule, while defending England against a secret French invasion. He also teams up with Marion after her husband dies, to protect the people of Nottingham against King John’s plans to tax them into poverty. Eventually, everyone gets caught up in stopping the French invasion. In fact, Robin Hood is essential in forming a truce between King John and the people so they can fight the French. Surprisingly, the truce scene evokes echoes of the Magna Carta that the people eventually forced John to sign in 1215 at Runnymede. Of course, the Magna Carta is one of the essential foundations of liberty for both England and the United States.
ROBIN HOOD has its fun moments, but the effort to score contradictory historical points saps some fun out of the legend. Also, the movie’s positive Christian, moral, patriotic worldview and conservative values are undercut by brief politically correct, revisionist history that makes Muslims look like victims and by a line that evokes utopian socialist thinking.