'Robin Hood' at Cannes Film Festival: 'Batman Begins' meets 'Men in Tights'
Ridley Scott's 'Robin Hood' made its debut Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival. The movie takes a page from other Hollywood 'prequels,' but how far is too far when Hollywood rewrites popular myths?
Russell Crowe leaped onscreen Wednesday at the Cannes Film Festival with the latest version of “Robin hood,” but will not sport green tights, a jaunty cap, nor joust with Friar Tuck or compete in an archery competition.Skip to next paragraph
That’s because this Ridley Scott extravaganza is set in the days before the hero became known as the champion of the poor.
This taste for prequels hews closely to the current Hollywood mania for peeking into the origins of well-loved heroes. Everyone from Batman to Darth Vader, King Arthur, and Superman – even Gollum – has had back stories thoroughly deconstructed and put onscreen.
Some, like “Batman Begins” with Christian Bale, are great hits. But Clive Owen and Keira Knightly flopped in a deep history of King Arthur, and some would argue that the only good thing about the three Star Wars prequels were the final 20 minutes that gave birth to Darth Vader. So when should a prologue remain mercifully hidden, and when does unearthing mythmaking clay become movie gold?
“When characters are created,” says Stephen Fishler of Metropolis Entertainment Inc., there are attributes in terms of initial storytelling that remain hidden, indicating that there are events or emotions in the hero’s past that are important, but secret. They are often the very qualities that make that character compelling.
“But,” he says, “when other people want to extend that character and keep it going, the background becomes too tempting.” So often, he adds, the things that should be kept hidden and left to the imagination, get splashed all over the screen.
But what does “an origin story” even mean with a figure that is arguably nearly a millennium old, and the first reference appears to be a 1262 English countryside ledger entry dubbing a captured outlaw as simply another “Robbenhode,” and the tale has been retold countless times through oral ballads and more than a hundred film and television versions?