Lionsgate's Robin Hood has always more than up front about its intention to take a loose historical interpretation of one of England’s most enduring legends. The trailers showcased numerous anachronisms, from arrows that did the damage of assault weapons, to sophisticated ironworks to pristine white leather jackets, to even medieval-ized versions of roulette and craps. From a stylistic standpoint, these choices wouldn’t make or break a movie, after all, medieval England wasn’t the flashiest of places, and any storyteller could be forgiven for wanting to elevate the design into something more fantastical. But there’s Baz Lurhman, there’s A Knight’s Tale, there’s every single modernized adaptation of Shakespeare… and then there’s Robin Hood.
It would’ve been one thing to have the cast running around in modern garb, but still adhering to some semblance of historical accuracy as they acted out a story deeply rooted in the politics of its time. But so much of the film is unfaithful to the time period its chosen to occupy that the impact of its stylistic choices is undermined. Ultimately those choices make it hard to take the film any kind of seriously (not that Robin Hood is The Hurt Locker or anything, but still).
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Robin and Marian engage in a thoroughly modern love story that involves them doing laughably 21th century things like living together before marriage (no, she is not a prostitute). What was the point of giving Robin and Marian such a ludicrous backstory? Their romance would’ve appealed to today’s audiences without him literally giving her a key to his manor (seriously, he gives her an actual key). The peasants in Nottingham would’ve been just as pitiable had they been portrayed as serfs as opposed to District 13 miners. And Egerton’s Loxley would’ve gone to the Crusades without having been drafted.
It also doesn’t help that some of the more major historical inaccuracies feel like they were inserted to help audiences comprehend the already too simplistic political allegory. For example, the Sheriff of Nottingham uses fear-mongering and racism to incite his subjects to give up everything they have in taxes to support the Crusades. He plans to use the astronomical sum of money he’s fleeced from the town to bribe his way into more power, shoehorning a fractured Trump/corporate greed analogy into the story, which moves the film farther afield of anything resembling the Robin Hood story it tries to cloak itself in.
Either that or there were way too many people working on this film that just said “Screw it, we wanna see what it looks like when a horse rides through a mineshaft.” TL;DR: The anachronisms in Robin Hood are choices, not oversights, but they only serve to weaken an already embattled film. That said, they’re really funny when you list them out, so enjoy!
Conscription – There was no conscription in England during the Crusades. And if there were conscription, men would not have been notified with a “draft notice.”
Hospital Boats – When Loxley’s injured on the Crusades, his commander, Guy of Guisborne, sends him back to England on a “hospital boat.” No, those were not things and no, people did not get sent home from the Crusades because they received an injury, however major.