“Lythe and listin, gentilmen / That be of frebore blode; I shall you tel of a gode yeman / His name was Robyn Hode” (A Gest of Robyn Hode). The tale of Robin Hood has been told many times in verse, in prose, in play and in film, with the writers, directors and singers offering almost as many versions. In 2010, Ridley Scott presented his take on the tale with the movie “Robin Hood”, starring Russell Crowe in the titular role. Ridley Scott reimagines the tale to be set in the last year of the eleventh century with scenes ranging from France to London to Nottingham. His goal is to tell how the legend of Robin Hood began and thus it tells of his return to England, followed by a rise to fame in battle with the French and culminating with his becoming an outlaw. While the film is entertaining, the historic basis is questionable.
This time around, Robin Hood is introduced to us as Robin Longstride, a yeoman in King Richard the Lionheart’s army. While there is ample evidence of Robin Hood having been in the king’s service, that king was always Edward, which one is not made clear, and there is no indication he was a Crusader (Holt 39-40).
Robin is quickly shown to be an experienced warrior and an honest man. He is so honest in fact, that when asked by King Richard if God will be pleased with his sacrifice, meaning the Crusade, Robin says that God would not be and recounts an incident of the slaughtering women and children and how it made King Richard’s men godless. As one might expect, the king felt those words were naive at best and had Robin, along with his companions, bound in the stocks. At this point we learn Robin is somewhat of a philosopher, believing he owes nothing to no man.
Robin’s fellow prisoners are Little John, Will Scarlet, and Allan A’Dayle. Keeping with tradition, Little John is essentially a brawler, spending most of the movie fighting or drinking. Will Scarlet and Allan A’Dayle are yeoman like Robin and equally as one dimensional as Little John. While these four are in the stocks, King Richard is killed by a crossbowman. Historically speaking this is accurate with the exception that Richard had already returned to England from the Crusade and set back out to France to win back his territory and recuperate money needed to pay his soldiers. (Real Robin Hood). Upon the king’s death, Robin and company escape with the intention of finding a boat to England ahead of the rest of the army.
Meanwhile King Philip of France conspires with the traitorous English knight Godfrey to ambush and murder King Richard on his way back to England. The ambush goes off almost perfectly, the hitch is there is no King Richard. Instead Godfrey learns from Robert of Loxley that the king is already dead and they are returning the crown to England. Before Godfrey can get his hands on the crown, Robin and his merry men ambush the ambushers. With his dying breath, Robert convinces Robin to swear to return his sword to Robert’s father.
Robert of Loxley’s...