This movie tells the story of the events leading up to Robin Hood (Russell Crowe) becoming an outlaw. We meet him as Robin Longstride, an archer in King Richard’s army. He is an honest individual whose outspoken opinions land him in hot water with the King. When King Richard is killed in battle, Robin and his band of followers – Little John, Will Scarlet and Alan A’Dayle – decide to leave the battle behind and head home to England. Meanwhile Godfrey (Mark Strong) is conspiring with the French to kill King Richard, not knowing that the King is already dead.
Godfrey and his men ambush the dead King’s escort, fatally wounding all the knights before Robin and his companions arrive to rescue the King’s crown. One of the knights left dying is Sir Robert Loxley (Douglas Hodge). He makes Robin promise to return his family sword to his father, Sir Walter Loxley (Max von Sydow), in Nottingham. Robin and his men don the knights’ armour, and Robin takes on the identity of Sir Robert Loxley.
Robin and his men arrive in England and return King Richard’s crown to Prince John. They then go to Nottingham, where Robin returns Sir Robert’s sword to Sir Walter and meets Sir Robert’s wife, Marion (Cate Blanchett). In a bid to allow Marion to keep her family lands, Sir Walter convinces Robin to continue with the ruse of being her husband.
Meanwhile Godfrey is busy terrorising half of England. He is trying to raise taxes for King John and stir up unrest with the nobles ahead of the French invasion. Robin discovers Godfrey’s treason and takes up the struggle against him.
Treason; death and killing; outlaws
Robin Hood contains intense sequences of medieval battle violence and war scenes. The movie contains some brutal and gruesome images, although these images appear only briefly with minimal depiction of blood and gore. For example:
- One scene shows King Richard sacking a castle. Arrows rain down on the shields of the attackers and boiling oil is poured over them. Soldiers are engulfed in flames. Numerous soldiers are shot by arrows, which protrude from legs, arms and chests. Archers fall from the castle battlements. King Richard is shot through the neck by an arrow and lies on the ground with the arrow through his neck.
- During a fist fight between Robin and Little John, the two men punch each other in the face, head-butt each other and throw each other around.
- Robin talks about the women and children he was forced to kill and the effect it has had on him.
- Robin and several other men are restrained in stocks. Their feet, hands and neck are bound by the stocks.
- The King of France slices his finger while opening an oyster (we see a small amount of blood). He hands the bloodied oyster to a second man to eat.
- During an ambush scene, trees fall on top of horsemen, knocking the riders from their mounts. Horsemen are shot in the chest with arrows. A man is speared through the chest. He lies on the ground with the spear protruding from his chest and blood around the wound and on his mouth. He dies from his wounds. Men are shot through the neck, in the chest, and in the back with arrows.
- A slow-motion shot shows an arrow flying past a man’s face and slicing open the man’s cheek (minimal blood and gore are depicted).
- The Sheriff of Nottingham grabs Marion by the throat and kisses her roughly on the lips.
- King John’s elderly mother slaps him hard across the face.
- Mounted soldiers ride over the top of villagers, slashing them with swords.
- A large group of villagers (women and children) is locked in a barn with the doors nailed shut. The barn is set on fire. The building fills with smoke before the group is rescued unharmed.
- Godfrey slashes Sir Walter Loxley, who is old and blind, across the back. He then runs his sword through Sir Walter’s chest, killing him.
- Friar Tuck hurls two beehives at a group of soldiers in a room. He leaves the soldiers to be attacked by the bees.
- A French soldier traps Marion in a room, taking off his gloves and belt in an intimidating way. He then physically forces himself upon Marion, kissing her on the face. Marion distracts the soldier by pulling up the bottom of her skirt, then stabs him in the back of the neck. We do not see Marion stab the man, but see the dagger protruding from the man’s neck.
- When Godfrey attacks Nottingham, Robin and Marion slash soldiers across the chest and throat with their swords. A soldier is impaled on a sword and soldiers shot in the throat and chest with arrows.
- During the final battle between the English and French armies, boats turn over while attempting to land on the beach. Men in armour sink and drown in the water. Arrows rain down on the French invaders, and men have arrows protruding from their necks, chests and legs. They gasp for air in the water, which is full of dead bodies and red with blood. Friar Tuck breaks a man’s neck with his hands, and we hear the sound of bones breaking. Robin and Godfrey engage in an extended sword fight. Both men and Marion are nearly crushed between two boats. Robin fires an arrow at Godfrey, which goes through his neck.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under the age of eight. For example:
- After being shot in the cheek by an arrow, Godfrey has an angry, jagged, stitched-up wound on the side of his face. His scarred face looks scary.
- Friar Tuck throws beehives into a room full of soldiers. The hives break open, and the bees attack screaming soldiers.
- Sir Walter’s body lies in a coffin on top of a funeral pyre of wood. It is engulfed in flames.
- In a flashback scene, six-year-old Robin watches his father being beheaded. We do not see the beheading – it’s left to our imagination.
Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above.
Children in this age group could also be disturbed by some of the violent and disturbing scenes mentioned above.
This movie contains some sexual references. For example:
- Prince John’s concubine is referred to as a ‘French pastry’. His mother tells John to ‘bed her and wed her’.
- In relation to a scar disfiguring Godfrey’s face, the King says ‘the ladies will love you even more’.
- Little John is asked, ‘So why do they call you Little John?’ The question has sexual overtones.
- Sir Walter is an old man in his seventies. He says that he woke up this morning with a ‘glow’. This comment has sexual overtones.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example:
- King Richard drinks wine from a flagon and seems mildly drunk.
- King Richard asks for wine while dying on the battlefield.
- In several scenes, men drink wine and mead. They sing and seem mildly drunk.
- Robin’s men ask Friar Tuck whether he knows where they can get a drink. The Friar asks whether they’ve tried a honey liqueur called mead.
- Friar Tuck makes mead, and in one scene he seems quite drunk.
- French soldiers break open Friar Tuck’s barrels of mead.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example:
- Prince John’s mother bursts into his bedchamber to find the Prince and a woman lying naked beneath the bed covers. The woman’s shoulders are bare, and the Prince’s chest is naked. The Prince stands naked on the bed in front of his mother, but only his naked back is shown.
- Several village women are seen with shirts half falling off their shoulders, making sexual gestures to entice Robin’s men. The next day we see the men stumbling out of a house followed by the women.
- Robin kisses Marion on the lips.
- There are scenes of sexual assault and attempted rape.
None of concern
This movie contains occasional coarse language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Robin Hood is an action adventure that gives us a new picture of this legendary character. The movie is likely to entertain a wide-ranging audience, although it is not suited to younger viewers. Although the movie contains violence and disturbing scenes, the depiction of blood and gore is kept to a minimum. Along with much of the movie’s high-profile supporting cast, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett provide excellent performances.
The main messages from this movie are that fair play and liberty are worth believing in and fighting for. You should never give up or give in to tyranny.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include honesty and selflessness.
This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as the consequences of King John’s greed, dishonesty and betrayal of his people.