Anachronisms are powerful modes of contrast that when done correctly linger long in the mind. It contradicts the rules of time’s arrow by piecing together two abject objects from different periods in time. So in a way, it’s like a rebellion of some sorts. This is the insurgency against extinction that Barney the dinosaur committed. He went abroad to study English and in doing so escaped the menace of the comet. Taxonomists have now called him Thesaurus rex.
However, when anachronisms are done poorly, it really looks bad. Awfully bad. Horrendously bad. [Insert adjective] bad. A malignant evil that coaxes the mind to abandon intelligence. Imagine Mean Girls but with Boudica. No one knows if it’ll work, but it’ll surely be bloody. Stop making Roman Britain happen, it’s not gonna happen. (On second thought, this might actually be an awesome idea.)
But that’s just a hypothetical example. What we have right now is a real example courtesy of Lionsgate Movies. It is a 2018 film version of Robin Hood.
Rest assured, the movie hasn’t been released yet, so the contagion has yet to spread completely. But if you’re feeling a bit rogue, you can watch the trailer here. If patience is your power, then you don’t need to check the trailer, just go watch the whole film when it hits the theaters, for its premiere is fast looming. Come November 2018, cinemas will be plagued with this pestilence.
And as I’m doing a series on the history of medicine (next chapter to be published next month), let me continue that theme with a public service announcement on why this outrage should be avoided at all costs. Put on your safety masks and let’s discuss this scourge.
The story of Robin Hood is set in medieval Nottingham. Now, Robin Hood doesn’t exactly live in Nottingham, but on its outskirts, in the middle of Sherwood forest. Robin Hood finds sanctuary in a big tree named Major Oak. But this part of the lore has been completely dumped and flushed by the screenwriters in favor of turning Nottingham into this:
Now, I don’t know about you but to me this doesn’t look like Nottingham. Then and now. No. Not at all. This looks is a computer generated depiction of a Byzantine citadel. Ok. Maybe the production crew decided to turn this English tale into a Mediterranean medley? Hell, it has gone Greek! (This is not in anyway to imply that the Byzantines were not Romans but Greeks.)
Look, they even have the Parthenon for good measure!
Robin Hood has been banished to Greece. That’s the punishment exacted for his banditry. His Sherwood shenanigans is over. It’s Robin Hood and his Greek Gang right now.
Or is it?
That’s not what we get. There’s no Grease Lightning to be found, only Greek Fire. Lots of it. There’s just so many explosions in the trailer that I’m not even sure if it’s Robin Hood anymore. It’s like a documentary on the Iraq War.
Thankfully, no American GIs. No Black Hawks. No ra-ttat-ttat-ttat. What we see above is just a good ole historical reenactment of Robin Hood as he rides a rearing horse with a the backdrop that seems to be the fucking Industrial Revolution.
We’ve arrived at an anachronism. The anachronism we discussed earlier. Not content at changing Robin Hood’s address, the writers decided to completely tamper with his birth certificate by changing his year of birth to some time during the 18th century.
If this was indeed situated in the industrial revolution, then we would expect the political presence of the working class. Well, the trailer didn’t disappoint. The peasants of the medieval world have now become the proletariats. I’m happy to announce, also, that their rebellious streak has not been abandoned by the writers. They even revamped it! Nostalgia for the Jacquerie and Peasants’ Revolt are evoked here with scenes of protest and riot. The anarcho-syndicalist peasants who believe that strange women lying in ponds, distributing swords is no basis for a system of government, have now become fully insurrectionist while donning the archetypal antifa apparel.
Yes. What they’re holding are Molotov cocktails. Take a closer look.
And what are these gentlemen against? Industrial-Medieval riot police armed with grenade launchers. That’s what.
But it seems like we’ve been launching arrows at the wrong target here. The point of the film is its namesake, Robin Hood. Let’s go back to him and talk about how he’s depicted in the trailer to see if there’s anything that can be salvaged from this shipwreck.
Archery was Robin Hood’s calling card. He took marksmanship to a whole new level of accuracy that there’s even a shot named after him. The story goes that Robin Hood entered an archery tourney facing all the best archers around. A very precious silver bow was up for grabs. Before Robin, one contestant had a perfect shot, hitting the target to a tee. The bold Hood knew what he had to do to win. He aimed. Pulled his bowstring. Released. The arrow flew and it hit the previous arrow, splitting it in two making it look like a banana. That shot has been immortalized with the name the Robin Hood shot.
This level of skill was not enough for this movie’s needs. Whoever was in charge of the script turned it up to 11. What we see is a ninja-archer hybrid that best resembles the archery of Lars Anderson, but on steroids.
Robin Hood’s skills with the bow was what made him an effective rogue. His life as an outlaw was constantly punctuated with run-ins with the sheriff of Nottingham. The motives of the sheriff are driven by greed, with some suggesting that his intransigence was also driven by his desire to woo Lady Marian, the love interest of Robin Hood. Whatever the real score is, the sheriff badly wanted Robin Hood in custody for his crimes. But the sheriff might be best advised to stay away from film version Robin Hood, for not only does he disregard state laws, but Robin Hood also violates the law of gravity!
I’m no expert at archery, nor do I know enough to make me conversant about it. But in this scene, the arrow isn’t supported by any shelf or rest like in most bows, therefore, launching an arrow in that style is ineffective and pointless because of gravity. He also does it again in the scene below.
Remarkably, by some stroke of magic, the arrows fly and puncture his enemies to death. Imagine being Isaac Newton, all excited after drafting the outlines of a gravity, only to find out that it had already been proven false by an anachronistic anarchist archer. Well, laws are meant to be broken in anarchism, right?
We have already discussed a number of interesting things, but there’s still a big question mark waving in front of us. We still don’t know how and why Robin Hood became the way he is. Was he born as a baby brigand? Was he a felonious fetus? Thankfully, the film leaves clues for us.
The character of Jamie Foxx says to Robin Hood (at 1:31 of the trailer), “You were a Crusader, now you have to be a warrior.” There we go. Robin Hood once fought the Saracens and other designated infidels. But wait a minute. What does he mean by “now you have to be a warrior”? Robin Hood was a Crusader, yet he wasn’t a warrior? Don’t books about the Crusades (the recent one I read was the A History of the Crusades by Steven Runciman, it’s really good!) all talk about the bloodshed, the decimation, and even the ransacking of Constantinople? Surely, these imply, or rather, explicitly demand warfare, hence the participation of warriors. The movie doesn’t think so, however. Maybe in its revisionist take of history, the Crusades were just a series of diplomatic chats over tea that got a bit rough at times.
I’ve had enough with this shit.
This visual virulence has to stop. The costumes, the set designs, the script, the mood, hell, everything about the trailer is discouraging. This film is a guaranteed shitfest, one can already tell just from its trailer. Another addition to Hollywood’s roster of cumber-world superheroes. Again, anachronisms are fine, only, when done right. But in here it’s a complete miss and is an absolute mess. It’s like trying to press the “Caps Lock” key but you end up hammering a nail on your toe. That’s the kind of blunder this film makes. It’s inexplicably bad. The more arrows this Robin Hood shoots, the more arrows he hits himself with.
Let’s hope that it gets fatal to prevent a sequel.