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February 18, 2009

The revisionist Robin Hood movie, revised

There has been a lot of confusion lately over the nature of Sir Ridley Scott's Nottingham and the role that Russell Crowe is supposed to be playing within that film.

When the film was first announced almost two years ago, Crowe was going to play the Sheriff of Nottingham as "a noble and brave lawman", and the actor teased reporters with the possibility that the film might turn Robin Hood into something of a villain; at one point, Crowe claimed that the legend of Robin Hood had begun as the legend of Robin the Beheader, and he said the film would "look at how the mythology morphed over time".

Then, late last year, Scott seemed to indicate that Crowe would be playing Robin Hood as well as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and producer Brian Grazer's efforts to clarify how that would work just made the film sound even more puzzling.

But yesterday, that all changed, apparently, as Scott told the MTV Movies Blog that Crowe will be playing Robin Hood, and only Robin Hood, while the Sheriff of Nottingham will be a "less important" character. What's more, Scott said the film, which starts shooting in two months, will probably no longer be known as Nottingham, but as plain old Robin Hood.

Robin himself, said Scott, will be portrayed as a bowman in the army of King Richard the Lionheart, and the film will show "the evolution of a character called Robin Hood, who will come out of a point in the Crusades which is the end."

And who will the movie's villains be? The French, says Scott, noting that King Richard's ancestors had conquered England from across the Channel only about 125 years before the story takes place. "The villain is much bigger in that sense," said Scott. "Much more important, and much more dangerous."

When the film was first announced two years ago, it was said that Crowe's Sheriff would be working for "a corrupt king." So if the film now revolves around Robin Hood, and if Robin Hood now fights in Richard's army, and if Richard's fellow Frenchmen are now the movie's villains, then who knows, it could be that Crowe will still be playing a man who works for "a corrupt king." After who knows how many rewrites, that part of the story just might have stayed intact.

It will be interesting to see how this film compares to Scott's previous Crusades movie, Kingdom of Heaven (2005), which starred Orlando Bloom as a reluctant, guilt-ridden knight who gets embroiled in Middle Eastern politics, loses his faith and ends up agnostic. Will Robin Hood follow a similar path, growing disenchanted with Richard and his kinsmen and vowing to spend the rest of his life robbing from the rich and giving to the poor as a result of this disillusionment?

Kingdom of Heaven, incidentally, ended with a brief glimpse of King Richard heading east on his Crusade after Orlando Bloom's character has finished fighting his own battles and returned to France. Wouldn't it be fun if Scott got the same actor to come back and play King Richard one more time.

Related Tags: kingdom of heaven, robin hood