Robin Hood, Magna Carta, and the Forest Charter

I, for one, am sick of the Robin Hood myth and movies. Or I thought I was. On the latest episode of Mark Kermode’s BBC film review podcast, there’s a fascinating discussion with Russell Crowe and Billy Bragg about the upcoming Ridley Scott film Robin Hood, starring (and co-produced by) Crowe. The new movie is a departure from other versions, with Robin Hood involved in the Magna Carta and also the Forest Charter which, “In contrast to Magna Carta, it provided some real rights, privileges and protections for the common man against the abuses of the encroaching aristocracy.” One line I like from the Forest Charter:

Any archbishop, bishop, earl, or baron who crosses our forest may take one or two beasts by view of the forester, if he is present; if not, let a horn be blown so that this [hunting] may not appear to be carried on furtively.

The discussion about this with Crowe and Bragg (9:00 to about 32:10 of the podcast) goes into how the Norman aristocracy unjustly invaded the land rights of the common people, which was redressed to some degree by the Forest Charter. Sounds interesting.

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  • Jeff Tucker writes:

    The NYT hates Robin Hood, the movie: “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!” (thanks David Hughes)

    I’m even more interested in seeing it now.

    • This unbelievably ignorant view of Robin Hood has always driven me nuts. Robin Hood was NEVER a “socialist bandit practicing freelance wealth redistribution.” He was ALWAYS taking back from the TAX “collectors” (thiefs) and returning money to those who earned it. Even in the Disney film.

  • I went and saw it with similar hopes. Unfortunately, the move is really, stunningly for a big budget film, extraordinarily bad. There is absolutely no character development, the script(and the cuts)bounce around so much one can barely follow the story, and at one point it appears that someone will soon be searching for a Private.

    I can’t recall ever being so disappointed in a movie. All of the historical significance that might have been hoped for in the name of liberty is so badly presented, that it is hard to tell that it is there at all.

    Really too bad.