Hollywood is rarely original, we all know that due to continuous remakes, adaptations of books, TV shows, comics and games. However, once in a while someone surprises us with an original idea or an original take on an old idea.
Nottingham was such a project.
Last year Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe promised a unique take on the Robin Hood legend that would portray the Sheriff of Nottingham as the hero and Robin Hood as the villain. The project was delayed due to some script issues, and then it emerged that Crowe would be playing both Nottingham (the sheriff not the city) and the legendary Robin Hood.
However, now Ridley Scott has announced that the film has undergone major changes and that the film will now simply be called Robin Hood and will follow the career of the titular hero.
Haven't we been to this well many times before?
Speaking to MTV Scott said:
"I think we are just going to call it Robin Hood. We start in almost 2 months. Robin Hood is in the army of Richard Coeur de Lion. He is a bowman in the army of Richard Coeur de Lion. "
With regards to the idea of having Crowe play Nottingham and Robin Hood Scott said:
"It was an idea so far back, way back when at the time I had this proposed to me, and I read it and thought, ‘I don't really know what it does for it, but it's alright.' It is better to simply have the evolution of a character called Robin Hood, who will come out of a point in the Crusades which is the end."
Scott goes on to say that the Sheriff will be:
"less important; the Sheriff of Nottingham is always a kind of an amusing character in most of the movies, who represents the hierarchy in the story at that point," Scott explained. "The hierarchy and the wealthy always ruled over the under class, and fundamentally that doesn't change, because Robin Hood is actually the person who finally - in terms of the overall classical idea of the film - will help the poor, probably taking from the rich."
Scott plans to make France the villain of the piece and not just one man:
"It is the French. The villain is much bigger in that sense; much more important, and much more dangerous. "(In)1066 Harold II went against William the Conqueror. Harold took an arrow in his eye, and William the Conqueror took over England, and so France owned everything right through. Even to the extent of changing the architecture of the churches from Anglo-Saxon to Roman, that's French; they changed the arches in the churches."
With regards to Russell Crowe being on prime physical condition for the tight wearing role Scott said:
"Oh that is silly; all that stuff is bullsh-t. He is going to be totally fit. That is not a problem at all. And he's been working on his bow and arrow for about 4 months. He sends me tapes of him hitting targets at about 45 meters. He's pretty good!"
There you have it straight from the horses mouth.
It would appear that Scott and Crowe would like to produce a historical epic along the lines of Gladiator and Kingdom of Heaven rather than a swashbuckling adventure in the mold of the Errol Flynn or Kevin Costner films. However, what irks me about this change is that the filmmakers really had an opportunity to do something new with the Robin Hood myth, but instead they have almost fallen into predictability.
If two years ago I'd said to you that Scott was preparing a revisionist take on Robin Hood this is exactly the sort of film that you would have imagined him to make.
Over the decades there must have been almost a hundred film and television versions of Robin Hood, every generation has their own iconic take on the character and I feel that this version by Ridley Scott will take the fun out of the character and replace the adventure and excitement with po-faced earnestness. While that is not always a bad thing I feel that Scott has decided to make a film that would be easier for him to make in a genre, tone and time frame that won't stretch his range. While most directors would see a film like this a challenge, Scott has made historical epics his stock in trade over the past decade or so. For him to make something with pace, adventure and wit would be the real challenge!
For that reason alone - I'm annoyed.