The 63rd Cannes Film Festival began its 12-day run of cinema and celebrity today with Ridley Scott’s epic drama of Robin Hood. Playing outside competition, the movie narrates the story of how the legend of the Sherwood outlaw began. When Robin Hood is ungraciously outlawed by the king of England, flush from a victory from the invading French forces that Robin Longstride helped win, the myth begins with him taking refuge in Sherwood Forest with his merry men and wife Marion.
The film lends itself to sequels, though how Robin Longstride eventually became Robin Hood – whose stories of robbing the rich to pay the poor has inspired generations – is not even myth. Yes, the plot has been put together with considerable care, though there are moments when the narrative appears a bit hotchpotch.
Scott (who had to miss being on the Cannes’ celebrated Red Carpet because of a knee surgery that kept him in bed) and his screen writer, Brian Helgeland, have written a complex story to create the legend. King Richard the Lion Heart is returning to England from the Crusade with his unhappy and unpaid army when he is killed in a siege. Ultimately, it falls upon the army’s ace archer, Longstride, to carry the dead king’s crown home and the sword of a dying English nobleman to his blind old father in Nottingham. There Longstride meets the nobleman’s widow, Marion.
Thereafter, Robin Hood runs very much like a Bollywood movie with impersonations, blossoming of romance between Longstride and Marion, songs and dances, sword fights and the vanquishing of the arch villain by Longstride. Watch how his arrow travels, what seem like, miles to fell the baldheaded evil man, who conspires with the French to take over the English throne, and in the name of the English king plunders the crown’s wealth.
However, unlike an average Bollywood work, Robin Hood is high on production values and performances. Marvellously shot and superbly edited, the movie scores on one more crucial area. Australian actor Russell Crowe rarely smiles, but is compelling as the man who would become Robin Hood. Cate Blanchett as Marion is tempestuous and essays the part with suitable fire.
Now, for a question. Is Robin Hood an ideal opening shot? Well, not as good as last year’s delightful Up, an animated 3D work by Walt Disney that made a great feel-good opening.