I’m just so sick of this. This grim, joyless, faux-realist medieval world, with its constant brutality, hypocrisy and debauchery all but unmoved by beauty, serenity and humanity.
I’m sick of movies in this King Arthur / Kingdom of Heaven mold that seem almost entirely lacking in sympathy and affection for their hero’s world. (Isolated moments — Robin’s fellows boisterously harmonizing on the Channel crossing back to England — seem almost to belong to another movie.)
I’m sick of movies that seem obsessed with rubbing our noses in the supposed harsh reality behind our romantic illusions of nobility and courtesy — especially in our age, when the harsh reality is taken for granted, and the romance and nobility and courtesy are all but forgotten.
Here is a small example. On the eve of the siege in which he will fall prey to an archer’s arrow, King Richard, noting Robin’s courage and honesty, and asks him candidly whether God will be pleased with Richard’s sacrifice. Somberly, Robin answers that by massacring innocent Muslims they have become godless men. Specifically, he recalls a Muslim woman whose last look was not one of fear or hatred, but pity. (Bad Crusades! Bad!)
Richard’s capricious response to Robin’s candor is to have him clapped in stocks. You see, Robin is brave, honest — and naïve. Betcha didn’t see that coming, huh?
Now here is another story about an archer and Richard’s death, from Wikipedia. Spotting a defender on the castle walls with a crossbow shooting at him, Richard was amused and applauded the archer — until a shaft went home. Later, the archer was captured and brought before the dying king, whose wound had become gangrenous. The archer (who said he was avenging family members killed by Richard) expected to be executed — but Richard, in a last act of mercy, pardoned him, gave him 100 shillings and sent him on his way. Isn’t that a better story than Richard clapping Robin in stocks?
Where Kingdom of Heaven made a flawed but credible effort to treat the Church with some measure of even-handedness, Robin Hood can’t be bothered. “Between the sheriff and the bishop,” Marion snaps, “it’s hard to say who is the greater curse on common English folk.” She says she’s praying for a “miracle,” namely, that the bishop (never seen) might show “Christian charity” and not rob the people of the seed corn they need for planting. At least there’s a suggestion that Christianity itself is better than its leaders.
Read the entire review. I'm a little bummed: I had hoped this movie would avoid the politically-correct nonsense of stealing from the rich medieval heritage to feed poor contemporary myths and biases. Silly me.