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Robin Hood


Traditionally, Robin Hood is an armed redistributionist. Huey Long with a bow-and-arrow. But according to A.O. Scott, the latest incarnation of the myth has more of a Tea Party flavor.

You may have heard that Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor, but that was just liberal media propaganda. This Robin is no socialist bandit practicing freelance wealth redistribution, but rather a manly libertarian rebel striking out against high taxes and a big government scheme to trample the ancient liberties of property owners and provincial nobles. Don’t tread on him!

As my friend Binyamin Appelbaum has noted, Robin Hood -- at least the movies made for adults -- has always been responsive to the national mood. The first film was released during the 1938 recession. The second film during the 1991 recession. And then there's this effort piggybacking on the financial crisis and the anti-government sentiments of the time. Perhaps the only evident political misfire is that it's aggressively anti-French at a time when the Greeks are the European bugaboo of choice.

Photo credit: Universal Pictures via Associated Press

By Ezra Klein  |  May 17, 2010; 1:07 PM ET
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If this movie really was analogous to the tea partiers, it would have been about Robin's merry men seeking to replace him with the Sheriff of Nottingham because they were sick and tired of the way things were run in the fiefdom by the authorities and for some reason they were blaming it all on Robin.

Posted by: Lomillialor | May 17, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

What was the Magna Carta other than the product of the original tea party? :)

If you're going to try to play with history in there as Ridley did, you're going to be stuck a bit coming across as looking tea party. The Robin Hood myth has gone through so many transformations over the years that it's easy to put him into anything.

Let's remember that Ridley got hammered in this country on the right for being nice to Muslims in Kingdom of Heaven.

Posted by: toshiaki | May 17, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Your remarks seem to assume three film versions of the Robin Hood story. As you can see on, there have been twenty-two.

Posted by: thehersch | May 17, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Such analyses are intellectual lipstick on a grossly bloody pig.

All a certain branch of Hollywood wants is to push the limits on how much gore it can get away with showing in hopes of reaching deeper into the pockets of the electronic game crowd. Using super slo-mo is meant to make vicious slaughter an art form and somehow less objectionable, even fun.

Any handy mythical hero will do. Witness "300" and "Spartacus, Blood and Sand." It's no longer enough to tease the imagination with horror unseen off-screen or off-stage.

By modern standards Errol Flynn's Robin Hood or Kirk Douglas's Spartacus are more like George Hamilton's Zorro.

Posted by: tomcammarata | May 17, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile Brits are arguing about whether Crowe's accent is correct.

If his speech were correct for the period, you would need subtitles for a modern audience to understand, and most would think the film was in German.

Posted by: allanbrauer | May 17, 2010 2:34 PM | Report abuse

How does Men in Tights fit into this analysis? Or, for that matter, the Disney version? I thought those two were considered the most authoritative versions of the story.

Posted by: HerooftheBeach | May 17, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Gore? Really? Robin Hood really isn't all the gorey relative to modern action movies. On Friday night we saw it back-to-back with Kick Ass. Robin Hood isn't close to Kick Ass in gore. Frankly, it didn't strike me as all that more gorey than Ken Branagh's Henry V.

The movie is also pretty far removed from being a video game. Many of the reviews complained about the mass of plotting in the movie while praising the "action", which seemed to indicate they would have just as soon see the plotting pitched and more action. Heck, the review Ezra linked to complains about it:

"If only the story were leaner and more nimble — but then again this is a Ridley Scott film, so you go in expecting bombast and bloat in the service of leaden themes. You also expect skill and precision in the orchestration of large-scale action sequences, and there are enough of those in “Robin Hood” to keep you alert and fitfully engaged."

Less story, more action. It's a pretty embarassing review. I enjoyed that they were willing to spend so much time in developing a story that paid off all the way to the end, even if they twisted the history around.

Posted by: toshiaki | May 17, 2010 3:37 PM | Report abuse

Robin Hood is a mythical figure and as such, is fair game for any creative venture. I enjoyed this version, particularly because there were villains on all sides. But there are some limits, Ezra. No Greek villain could have competed with the right and natural enemy of the British; the villains have to be French.

Posted by: ceska1 | May 17, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Robin Hood a role model for conservative politicians

Posted by: edross | May 17, 2010 4:11 PM | Report abuse

The villains of Robin Hood, at least since the Victorian era, have always been French: the Normans displacing and oppressing the Saxons. Though that strikes me as somewhat unfair-- the Saxons were oppressing the Celts.

And in the era that Robin Hood is being portrayed in this film, the Greeks were being oppressed by the French and the Venetians, anyway, so it's hard to make them out to be particularly threatening.

Posted by: tyromania | May 17, 2010 10:26 PM | Report abuse

I think the Tea Party analogy is a pretty good one. A whole lot of irrationally passionate peasants following a few wealthy syncophants who themselves only want to overturn 'the system' to the extent that it increases their wealth and power. Unfortunately, for that passionate mass of great unwashed serving as fodder, it's back to the fields at the end of the day.

Aw, hell, but then what, Cheney would have to be the 'Good King Richard' who returns from sacking the middle east on crusade. Ewwwwwwww.

Posted by: Jaycal | May 18, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

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