14 May 10

In Which I Defend Russell Crowe

I know, bizarre, right?

The Daily Mail reported on Russell Crowe storming out of a radio interview after the host accused his portrayal of Robin Hood as sounding too Irish. Gasp. Shocker. Wowie. I totally didn’t already know that Russell Crowe is a total hothead and that radio hosts know diddly/squat about any culture that isn’t pop. Let’s consider the facts. No matter what happens with this movie:

  1. Russell Crowe will sound better than Kevin Costner.
  2. Robin Hood never existed, so it really doesn’t matter what the actor portraying him sounds like.
  3. Even if Robin Hood had ever existed, he would have spoken a northern dialect of Middle English that would sound like absolute gibberish to the modern moviegoer, so it really doesn’t matter what the actor portraying him sounds like.
  4. English accents prior to 1800 sounded more like today’s Irish folks than most modern English people.
  5. Russell Crowe will sound better than Kevin Costner.

Most of all, I can’t believe that this is the issue people want to talk about. Dialects are irrelevant when you’re filming a movie about characters who wouldn’t be speaking Modern English anyway. (Though for some reason Hollywood always opts for a generic posh British accent when making any historical flick that isn’t a cowboy movie.) But let’s talk stuff that can be historically verified. Did they get any of that right? Costumes? WRONG. Weapons? WRONG. Armor? WRONG WRONG WRONG. The movie flagrantly blends weapons and armor from a period that spreads over at least 600 years. To a medievalist, the trailer for Robin Hood looked like somebody re-making Gone With The Wind, except during the war scenes you see people getting around via horse and buggy, Sherman Tank, and flying saucer while shooting at one another using crossbows, musket-loaded rifles, Tommy guns and laser beams. Don’t even get me started on Cate Blanchett’s battle bodice. And you’re worried about subtleties in the dialect? For seriously?

The article also goes on to criticize the use of non-Brits among the band of Merry Men. Look, snobs, the “Irish twinges” that you are knocking Crowe for sound a helluva lot more old-school English than the nasal, consonant-dropping, vowel-shifting mess you’re spouting today on the BBC. And despite the fact that Australians, Canadians, and Americans are portraying the famous band of thieves, all of the actors have British Isles descent so get over yourselves. It’s a movie. Probably not even a very good one.

I realize the English can be protective of the story of Robin Hood, and gobs of tourist money can be made from leading camera clutchers to the scrap of Sherwood Forest that somehow survived the greenery bulldozer that was Henry VIII. But seriously, get over it. Ridley Scott is going to hack your story to pieces in a very non-authentic interpretation of the legend. Maybe instead of busting Russell Crowe for storming out of an interview, you should just be grateful he didn’t stuff the microphone down the host’s throat before he left.