Seeing Robin Hood, After Writing Robin Hood

June 20, 2010

Last night marked the final chapter of my Robin Hood novelization experience:  Nancy and I finally saw the movie.  My reactions:

First, I liked it.  So did Nancy.  I honestly believe that many of the poor reviews were written by people who went to the theater expecting to see the conventional Robin Hood story.  This movie never claimed to be that.  It is a prequel of sorts to the legend, and is innovative and different — good things both.  It is a darker story than one expects from a Robin Hood movie, but that too worked for me.

I love Cate Blanchett,and I think she did a fine job; her acting was excellent, as always.  Still, I’m just not certain that she was ideal for this role.  On the other hand, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Russell Crowe’s performance.  Again, I always expect excellent acting from him, and I wasn’t disappointed this time.  I just hadn’t been sure that I would like him as Robin.  I did.

A lot of what I saw matched up well with what I envisioned as I wrote the book from the movie script.  Still, there were scenes that I saw differently — the opening siege sequences, for instance.  There were a few scenes and lines that must have been cut from the movie at the last minute, because they’re in the book, but not in the film.  And there were a few scenes and lines that we were asked to cut, but that then found their way back into the movie (and I have to tell you THAT was a little annoying….).

Movies and books are utterly different media, and hard to compare.  I know that some of what I wrote in the book can’t possibly have as much impact as the visuals one gets on the screen.  I also know, though, that there are elements of what I wrote in the book, especially some of the point of view work, that added to the narrative.  Eleanor of Aquitaine doesn’t get enough screen time in the movie to be a fully developed character; being able to write scenes from her POV allowed me to bring her out a bit more in the book.  Same with Richard the Lionheart.

Robin Hood was a unique writing experience; I’ve said as much before.  Turns out, seeing the movie was a unique experience as well.  I felt like I was seeing a movie I’d watched many times before, and yet every visual offered some small surprise.  As Nancy said, it will probably be even stranger to see a movie that is based on one of my own books.  I hope to find out some day.

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