May 17, 2010

Liberal Press to Ridley Scott: No Fair!

My own quest began here:
Real Clear Politics: Robin Hood as Libertarian Hero

which led to here:
Village Voice: Robin Hood as Tea Party Hero

and here:
NY Times: Robin Hood Re-Invented

All of that left me wondering once again as I often have before, just how much history there might be behind this always entertaining rogue. Google sent me halfway around the world and back again, but I finally settled on the site below because it seemed the most complete examination of the many myths and the possible history that might have inspired them:
Robin Hood the Bold Outlaw: In Search of the Real Robin Hood

Everyone comes away from Robin Hood with their own key memories that help identify their relationship to the myth. I have not seen Ridley Scott's movie, but I have seen, read, and heard so may different retellings that they all have blurred together in my own personal synopsis of the myth which goes something like this:

Sir Robin of Loxley follows King Richard to the Levant in support of his crusade. He is removed from the King's forces either through capture or wounds, and returns to England ahead of his King. When he arrives home he finds his father has been executed by Prince John and the Sheriff of Nottingham under mysterious circumstances which no one can explain to him. When he calls upon the Prince to report on the crusades and King Richard, he is imprisoned for treason, but manages to escape. Friar Tuck, also in a bad spot with the local Archbishop, helps him find Little John, the leader of a band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest. They join forces, but Robin proves to be the better leader. Marion, Robin's childhood friend, is captured by the Sheriff of Nottingham who hopes to use her as bait to draw Robin out of Sherwood Forest. Robin, Little John, and Friar Tuck rescue her and thus begins the wild rampages of Robin and his merry band as they wage what amounts to a guerrilla war against Prince John and the Sheriff. Richard returns, learns of John's predations, executes the Sheriff, and then pardons Robin and his band.

The whole "robs from the rich and gives to the poor" part never really struck me as being essential to the story. It always felt like a distraction from the core story of freedom and brave individuals striving to right a series of grievous wrongs. I often wondered if somewhere along the line it had been added on as a way of justifying the very violent, destructive war being waged by Robin and his band. After all, they are essentially just a band of thugs using the natural cover of the forest to give them an unearned advantage over the better equipped, officially sanctioned soldiers and deputies.

My point being, long before I read any of the things I found today I'd already decided that if opportunity presented itself I was definitely going to see the new movie. I was a bit worried that in today's political climate the "robs from the rich and gives to the poor" might have been elevated to the theme of everything, but as far as I could tell from the advertising, just the opposite was more along the line of the movie's true theme.

Happily, from what I have read today, it does indeed appear that Ridley Scott has returned the story to what in my mind has always been it's true, original, and honest intent: the story of a heroic rebel fighting for justice against a cold, cruel world.