The outlaw hero who defended the helpless, stole from the rich and gave to the poor. It is interresting, how in our time, his image has been both idolised and questioned. He is only one of the many peoples heroes seen as myths. Many wery similar men could be named from European cultural tradition alone, like Wilhelm Tell, Adam Bell and many others. Common to these heroes is that they, or at least their deeds, are disputable as unhistorical or even mythical. They were common men, whose efforts were not praised by court minstrells,  monks or other men of the cloth. Not in a positive sense to be sure at least. Not while their enemies, the mighty lords drew breath at least. Their stories are often recorded from folktales only hundreds of years after their time. When all that actually happened has allready been soaked by mythical measure and the persons behind the events have formed into stereotypes.

It has been even claimed that such a man as Robin Hood could not have existed, because a robber who shares his loot with the weak and poor of the land is an inconsievable proposition. That an able man helps himself and no other. Do you think so? Why should we all be selfinterrested arseholes? If someone claims that the tale of Robin Hood could not be true because, he did morally and ethically right things, then you might ask what is wrong with this person. In my mind this is a claim by a psychopat. Maybe that psychopat is being honest to himself, but I would like to think that most of us have a consience. That a working man is ready to even take arms when he is pushed to the limit. It is noteworthy that all these heroes of the common man have used the “dishonourable” weapons of the commoner like bows.

John Bellamy researched the oldest known written source “The Gest of Robyn Hode” written in the late 14th century. Bellamy found several actual people from historical books of office that shared the names of the heroes in the commonly known heroics of Robin Hood. These people lived in the early 14th century. He claimed that Robin Hood was actual historical person, only that he actually did not live in the times of  Richard “The Lionheart” and John “Lackland”, but centuries later. This could of course also be true.

In my opinion, it is not really a significant point to these stories wether the men lived in 12th century or 14th century. Wether we can actually show that such men known by the name of Robin Hood, Robert Hode, Robin of Loxley or of Sherwood. Wether the merry men lived in Sherwood, Barnsdale or Nottingham.

What is important about Robin Hood is that his stories could have been told about Wilhelm Tell or Adam Bell just as well. They are the commoner heroes, who in their own time preferred to remain anonymous. To hide their identity under such names as Jacques Bonhomme during the peasant revolt of Jacqeries in France. For the common man, who has once risen against tyranny, even if it was by “force majeur”, has no peace from his “betters” ever again. Unless he wears a “hood” to hide himself.

As you expected I will also write about the Robin Hood films. Every film about Robin tells us more about the era of their filming than they do about medieval England.

The Erroll Flyn epic was one of the worst movies in terms of authenticity of its own time among those set in medieval times. It set an example, that when a movie tells a tale of medieval times the costumer for one, does not have to worry about historical accurasy. Many of the early Hollywood movies set in medieval times have actually wery good costuming and general view of the era, but later moviemakers have ended up copying the older movies rather than making the research themselves. It seems that to some moviemakers medieval is synonumous to fantasy. There are of course exeptions to this rule.

I have enjoyed  some film intepretations of the Robin Hood legend. It is a legend and therefore the events and characters are rather free game to the scriptwriter. Considering how many films have been made of the same basic storyline, it is surprising how the film makers can find new angles to the myth. Some have been better than others. I will name my three favourites: #3 Robin Hood (released in 1991, but not the stoopid “Prince of Thieves”) Directed by John Irvin and starring superb Uma Thurman as Maid Marian. This movie was simply beatifull in the sense of late autumn when it is not easy living in Sherwood forest. It presents Robin as a saxon nobleman fighting for his lost rights against norman opressors. A plausible setting, but even though it has been (for some reason) popular among movie makers, is an element added to the Robin Hood stories only as late as 19th century during the romantic revival. #2 Robin and Marian, wich tels the heros end as a living legend. It has the feeling of hot late summer days in it. #1 TV-series “Robin of Sherwood” (also published as a movie “Robin Hood and the Sorcerer”) written by Richard Carpenter, as it really joins the myths of the British Isles to the harsh reality the english commoner lived during  feudal reign. It is the story about the peoples hero. “You are like a may morning…”

The bad movies and TV-series are such a multitude that most of them do not even deserve being mentioned. I will however write something about the latest movie by Ridley Scott. He knows how to entertain the public. I however was just as disappointed coming out of the movie theatre as I was when I’d just seen Kingdom of Heaven.

The Kingdom of Heaven is in my opinion a superbly fine movie. The long version that is. The one shown in theatres aroun the world was a terrible torso. For some reason the production company had extracted plot-characters and important scenes. For some reason the “directors cut” was seen as too long to be commercially profitable.  I do not see how the new Robin Hood film could be remedied quite the same way.

I had decided beforehand, that I would not let flaws in costuming, of the new Robin Hood movie, distract or bother me. I wanted to enjoy an epic adventure made by a tallented crew. In that respect the movie started fine. The actors were terrific. They had obviously found some new angle to the story. However the preparation and staging of the story seemed to take for ever and lead nowhere.  At certain point the costuming started to look like everything believable was surplus from the Kingdom of Heaven and everything that was made especially for this movie seemed cheap crap.

The final battle was, in my humble opinion, totally like from a nother movie. It did not really fit in with the historical backround or the storyline of the movie. Now, Ridley Scott has made some marvellous battle scenes, like in aforementioned Kingdom of heaven and in the Gladiator, but this was nowhere close.  At the point when the surplus landing vessels from the Saving private Ryan appeared, my immersion to the story melted like butter in the sun. All my symphaties for maid Marion (who by the way is not a maid, but a widow in the movie – a bit illogically) were lost as she did the most irresponsible act ever by a hero character in any movies I can remember. She brought a bunch of little kids straight to the middle of the battle. It was never even explained why she did this abomination. Before the battle was over, with too much of waving of the camera to make anything of it, I was ready to leave the theatre. I decided to stay however, but that was it.

Maybe there was a point behind the movie and maybe the makers had found a new aspect to the old story, but still as a movie, as an adventure epic it was spoiled by one scene and spoiled totally. As a historical movie it sets somewhere in middleground as far as believability is concerned. This is mainly due to the fact, that most historical movies are no very accurate at all.

Story of Robin Hood could have started like this. Why not? Exept that the french did not try to invade England. The englishmen have feared the attack from mainland for generations. Castles and fortifications have been erected to protect the island from invasion, but the french have never tried it since they achieved it once in 1066. Maybe they have seen that the poor island is not worth trying. Basing a movie about a legendary peoples hero on a historical event that did not happen, but committing real historical characters to play it out eats at the legend. It is one thing to say there could have been this brigand or guerilla warrior in England called Robin Hood at a given time, than to claim the kingdoms of France and England engaged in a battle, that we know, historically never happened. First occasion sets within the limits of believability the second is pure fable. Sure, king John Softsword did fight a war against the french, but it all happened on french soil.

Robin Hood is such a strong image in peoples minds that it will not be changed by just one more movie. Wether he actually existed is irrelevant. Such everyday heroes did exist in the middle ages. Europe was full of powerhungry feodal rulers, who set laws in their own accordance and did not respect the common mans rights. But when people are opressed they start to fight their rulers, and among these common men sometimes a hero arises. Some of them end up in the pages of history, like Wat Tyler or Che Guevara, others are the stuff of legends.

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