The Life of a Fangirl

This is the start of a new…series, I guess you could say; I’m calling them ‘Random Fandom Thoughts.’  These I’ll post when something comes up.

I am a proud, self-professed fangirl.  As you can tell, I like watching movies and TV shows.  I love the stories, the development.  As many fans end up doing, I fall in love with the characters and grow to admire many of the actors and actresses.  I read fanfiction on almost a daily basis.  And my brain will have several fandoms swirling around at the same time.  For instance, I am currently watching BBC’s The Musketeers, mainly for the next part in my review series, but I also adore the show.  Thus, I am going back to some of my favorite fanfictions.  And I’m watching Supernatural again from the beginning.  I just finished reading some awesome fanfictions for it.  And I’ve just seen How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World, so I’ve gone back to some fictions there and at this moment listening to the soundtrack (and the other two while I drive).  Makes for some interesting thoughts at times!

But this is what makes me happy.  It’s how I unwind and relax.  (Seriously, if I could get paid for watching shows and exploring the fanworld, I’d be happy).

Onto the news of the hour (aka, why I decided I needed to share)

The beloved trio behind Supernatural announced yesterday that next season, number 15, will be the last.

A stab of sorrow that first moment I heard.  I have come to love this show.  The fandom.  The family.  I came to the show late; between seasons ten and eleven.  (I managed to finish the first nine seasons in a little over a month, once I got hooked by the end of season one).  Then I found out about Jared’s Always Keep Fighting campaign.  That won my loyalty and devotion.  And finding out how supportive the fandom is, of the stars, and of each other.  I love all the brotherly moments.  How Sam and Dean will (and have) died for each other.  They rib each other, but will hug…when the world is ending.  I have grown to yell at the TV or computer screen when the boys do something stupid (they’ll fix it, eventually).  I have sobbed as they and other major characters have died (I have not forgiven them for killing Charlie).

But I have not shed tears yet over the announcement.  Honestly, I was a bit shocked that a fifteenth season was announced.  The actors have families; they have children.  And they’ve commented about having to spend time away from them.  And we, as loving and caring fans, feel bad.  We love Jared and Jensen, and Misha, and all the rest.  But we wouldn’t love them if they weren’t such nice family men.  Yes, if there was one show I wish could go on forever, it’s Supernatural.  But I know it can’t.

So, I wish the boys luck in their futures, but I also eagerly await the twists, turns, and surprises of another season.  And I am sure that I will at least take an interest in future projects of theirs.  And really, the fandom will never die.  We’ll re-watch the show over and over (example, me).  We’ll re-read and create new fanfictions.  (I mean, Harry Potter fans wrote new stories before Cursed Child or Fantastic Beasts came out.  Star Wars was going strong on fanfiction with new stories daily before the newest trilogy was in the works).  “Family don’t  end in blood,” and I’m sure the fans…the family will still connect with each other.

Though, I willingly admit, I guarantee I will be a sobbing mess come season fifteen.  I will have pillow and tissues at the ready.

 

Feel free to comments your thoughts.  Who is your favorite?  Sam?  Dean?  Cas?  Luci?  Favorite season?  Favorite case?

Musketeers All Grown Up

The Man in the Iron Mask

A later 90s film with some A-list stars; Leonardo DiCaprio leads as King Louis and Philippe, Jeremy Irons is Aramis, John Malkovich is Athos, Gérard Depardieu (he’s the fur guy in the live action 102 Dalmatians and will later appear in La Femme Musketeer) is Porthos, Gabriel Byrne (he plays Friedrich Bhaer in the Winona Ryder Little Women movie), and Hugh Laurie (of House fame) makes an appearance as one of the king’s advisors. The film is based on another of Alexandre Dumas’ novels and features the four primary Musketeers as older men; they’ve already saved France once. Jeremy Irons narrates the opening “some of this is legend, but at least this much is fact – when rioting citizens of France destroyed the Bastille, they discovered within its records this mysterious entry: Prisoner number 64389000–the Man in the Iron Mask.” [And that is actually historically accurate, there was a man in an mask imprisoned in the Bastille; it was the inspiration for Dumas. Everything after that is all a fictional story.]

The film is set in 1662, in the reign of King Louis XIV. The peasants are rioting in Paris because they’re starving. Louis, in the meantime is waging wars and when informed of the riots, has his advisors send rotten food to the people. He has sent the captain of his Musketeers, D’Artagnan to fetch Aramis, who is now a priest. Louis wants Aramis to hunt down the secret leader of the Jesuits, and kill him. That order given, Louis attends his party amidst much pomp. A beautiful woman catches his eye. Her name is Christine and she is the soon-to-be fiancée of Raoul, Athos’s son. That does not dissuade Louis. He catches her alone and flirts with her. Christine tries to refuse his advances, stating she is to be engaged to Raoul; but he is the king. D’Artagnan, who keeps a watchful eye on the spoiled king, interrupts Louis’s attempt to kiss Christine. Raoul has come to him to join the Musketeers and the boy is the son of D’Artagnan’s dearest friend.

After the incident, D’Artagnan visits Athos, in an attempt to calm his friend when Raoul enters and reveals he’s been called back to the front. He informs his father that the king’s eye has fallen on Christine and he will not marry the woman only to make her a widow by dying in a war. Athos is furious at the king and demands how D’Artagnan can still serve him. D’Artagnan has not lost hope in Louis becoming a better king. If Louis hurts his son, he will become Athos’s enemy, as will any man who stands in his way, he warns his friend. D’Artagnan promises to speak to the king. On his way back to the palace, the peasants have begun attacking Musketeers for distributing rotten food. D’Artagnan faces down the rabble and when rotten fruit is thrown at him, he catches it with his sword and admits they are right; he will speak to the king. To do so, D’Artagnan sneaks by the advisors waiting outside Louis’s door, using a secret passage. Louis promises that Raoul will return home soon. When he orders his previous advisor (Hugh Laurie) executed, the rioters shot, and the way he dismisses a woman right after bedding her, we can guess what his true motives are. He wants Christine and sending Raoul was the best way to accomplish that. He will do as he pleases and leave others to clean up his messes.

Indeed, we next see Raoul at the front lines and killed by canon fire. Christine is devastated when she receives the news, as is Athos. He rides to the Musketeer garrison on his way to the palace and attacks Musketeers who try to stop him. D’Artagnan tackles him and tries to talk him down. Athos calls D’Artagnan a traitor. That evening, Christine dines with the king; she had gone to him for help, her mother and sister are both ill and her father is dead. Louis seems caring and kind, but has no hesitation about bedding the woman the eve she found out her fiancée died.

The four Musketeers meet in a crypt, Aramis explaining Louis’s order for him to kill the secret leader of the Jesuits. Then reveals that he is the secret leader. He has a plan to replace the king. Porthos and Athos agree, but D’Artagnan cannot; he swore an oath and will not betray his king. Athos, still furious, warns D’Artagnan that the next time they meet, one of them will die. Next, Louis visits D’Artagnan, inquiring why he let Athos go. D’Artagnan responds that if a good man like Athos is now their enemy, they should examine why. Louis pays no attention to the warning and orders D’Artagnan to find Aramis, Athos, and Porthos.

After that, we see the three Musketeers, disguised, sneaking into a prison. Aramis meets with the prisoner in the iron mask; this is his escape. They make their way to an out-of-the-way estate, where the mask is removed. Once the young man is cleaned up, he bears a shocking resemblance to King Louis. Aramis sits everyone down and reveals the truth of Philippe. He is the twin brother to King Louis, their father knew that civil war could eventually erupt with two heirs and thus had the younger twin, Philippe hidden away at a country estate for sixteen years. Porthos remarks that that night was the only night he had ever seen D’Artagnan drunk. The queen was told that the younger son had died. Then, when Louis XIII was on his deathbed, he revealed the truth to his wife and son. That was six years ago. Philippe was taken from the country and put in prison, covered in an iron mask. Aramis was regrettably the one who put the mask on him. He had also been the one to take Philippe from the palace the night he was born. His plan now is to replace Louis with Philippe. The perfect opportunity is in three weeks when Louis plans to hold a masquerade ball. Afterwards, Philippe, as Louis, will send for Athos, Aramis, and Porthos and have them made advisors. Philippe is hesitant to agree at first, but when he confronts Athos whether the man agreed due to anger at Louis for getting Raoul killed, Athos explains that the Musketeers had shared the common dream of serving a worthy king. Philippe will do the switch so that he can be a king worthy of Athos’s service.

twins

A box has been sent to Louis, for his eyes only, containing the iron mask. Anne, the queen mother rushes to her private chapel, weeping at the news that her secret son is dead. D’Artagnan comes to the queen; she embraces him as she cries, then kisses him. He states that he has always loved her, but due to their relationship being treasonous, they cannot be together.

Porthos, who has been feeling useless since he is no longer a young man, decides to hang himself in the barn. A rope has conveniently been left. Athos spots Porthos and asks Aramis what is going on. Aramis states that Porthos has been moping for months; Aramis has sawn through the beam. The beam indeed breaks…and brings down the entire barn. “I’m a genius, not an engineer!” Now that Porthos is done moping, maybe he can be useful for a change, Aramis tells Porthos. They take their turn tutoring Philippe.

At the palace, Christine receives Raoul’s last letter. He had forgiven her anything she may have done. Christine now feels guilty for what she’s done. Louis is not guilty, instead, angry that she no longer loves him and whispers that she will burn in Hell, he will not for he is king, ordained by God. He has his ball moved up and the Musketeers must move up their plans. Aramis goes to the queen and fills her in, while Athos finishes coaching Philippe. It’s not that the Musketeers want Philippe to be a bad king, but he must pretend at the first.

At the ball, Aramis and Porthos freak Louis out, letting him glimpse the iron mask. When he retires to his room, they sneak in and make the switch. D’Artagnan is guarding the hall, so Philippe must sneak out through the passage again. Anne enters the ball for a moment, and will wait until the morrow to speak to her son. D’Artagnan, surprised to see that the king has returned to the ball without his notice, picks up odd behaviors, such as “Louis” helping a woman when she falls and speaking kindly to Christine when she bursts in crying “murderer!” She had written, as Louis, to the general. Louis’s order had been to place Raoul in front of the canon, not at the back like Louis had claimed. D’Artagnan insists the king accompany him, and quietly orders his lieutenant to lock the palace down. The musketeers catch Aramis, Porthos, and Athos, along with their prisoner trying to escape. The older Musketeers fight and are almost out when D’Artagnan comes with “Louis.” He knows that the king beside him is an imposter. The four hold a staring contest, which Athos breaks, revealing the real Louis and holds a knife to his throat. D’Artagnan does the same to Philippe and they eventually switch the two men. Again, the four are almost away, when Louis demands Philippe’s capture. Philippe calls for Athos and D’Artagnan is devastated to see his friends leave.

Back at the palace, in Louis’s chambers, the truth comes out for D’Artagnan. Anne stops by for a moment, to plead for Louis to spare his brother’s life. D’Artagnan makes the same plea; he has never asked Louis for anything for himself. Philippe even makes the plea that he’d rather die than wear the mask again. Louis orders Philippe back into the mask and orders D’Artagnan to bring him Athos, Aramis, and Porthos’s heads, or the king will have his. In the hall, D’Artagnan and the queen speak briefly; Anne had never told D’Artagnan there were two (now, we’re getting suspicious). They’re interrupted by a woman’s cry. Christine has hung herself.

older musketeers

D’Artagnan has left a note for his friends, helping free Philippe. Aramis pulls out their old uniforms; they shall wear them in death. D’Artagnan leaves a rose for Anne (they have previously appeared in her chapel), wearing his old uniform as well. Louis and the musketeers follow D’Artagnan. D’Artagnan meets his old friends in the prison with Philippe; he has chosen to stand with them; but they’re trapped. The four Musketeers face D’Artagnan’s men. The four older men are efficient in their fighting. D’Artagnan has Athos spare his lieutenant. They manage to not die and take a moment to regroup. Louis calls out that he will allow D’Artagnan to retire in peace, if he surrenders now. The other three will be given mercifully quick deaths. D’Artagnan refuses, even when Philippe offers to barter himself for all of them. “If we must die, let it be like this.” He cannot give up his son – Philippe. One last “one for all and all for one,” amongst the friends, crossing their swords and they charge once again. D’Artagnan’s men don’t want to follow Louis’s order to fire, many of them turning their heads as they shoot. Again, those guys have incredible luck and manage to not die. Led by their lieutenant, they salute their captain. Louis goes for Philippe, but D’Artagnan steps in front. Philippe is now determined to kill his brother for killing their father, but D’Artagnan stops him. The lieutenant hears his captain refer to Louis as Philippe’s brother; he orders the rest of the men outside and bound to silence. D’Artagnan tells his son and his friends that this is the death he wanted, “all for one, one – ” Philippe weeps [I’ve been known to cry at this part as well]. The lieutenant stops Louis from escaping, declaring that all he ever wanted to be was D’Artagnan, blaming the spoiled young man for the death of a great hero.

When more guards manage to break down the door, the switch has already been made. Aramis, Athos, and Porthos are the king’s new royal council. They kneel. We next see D’Artagnan’s grave, which is engraved with the iron mask (Philippe had said that D’Artagnan was the man in the mask, presumably since D’Artagnan hid his relation to Louis all those years). Athos states “he [D’Artagnan] was the best of us all.” Philippe asks Athos one last service, let him love Athos like a father, and in time, let Athos love him like a son. The musketeers salute the three and Jeremy Iron narrates the ending. The prisoner in the iron mask was eventually taken to a country estate to live out his life, visited often by Queen Anne. Louis XIV led his country to an era of peace and was regarded as the greatest ruler of the French nation [not historically accurate; Louis XIV continued to wage wars, persecuted the Huguenots and Jansenists (but not the Jesuits), “and the utter mess he left France in is generally considered to be one of the ultimate causes of the French Revolution” – per TV Tropes.org].

The first time I saw this movie, I wasn’t terribly fond of it, mainly since King Louis was completely despicable. But once I realized that it shows the older four Musketeers, my interest piqued. D’Artagnan is the most complex character of the cast; the other musketeers don’t have quite as much of an arc.  The father/son relationship is nice between Athos and Phillippe.  To him, Phillippe is innocent and needs protection from Louis.  There’s not as much action, but then, since it focuses on the king and his twin, they don’t sword fight as often. The ending fight is very good, but it is a blatant demonstration of “we can’t kill the main characters…yet, so they can’t get hit by bullets.” The older musketeers easily handle the younger ones, which is explained to a point. But really? They aren’t even scratched by a bullet? There are five guys, running next to each other, in a hall, and you can’t hit one? You’re supposed to be musketeers? (I’m glad they didn’t die then, but it’s still hard to believe.)

Next Time: La Femme Musketeer

Aren’t There Supposed to be Three Musketeers?

The Musketeer

A not-as-popular re-telling of the Three Musketeers story; it focuses primarily on D’Artagnan’s story, even more so than traditional versions. The iconic three musketeers are barely side characters in this tale. It has a decent plot, but it also heavily relies on action and fight scenes. I don’t know most of the actors, though Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky from 2008’s The Incredible Hulk) is the villainous Febre, or “Man in Black.” Rochefort is an entire other character, and very minor [to the point that I didn’t know that was him until reading the credits]. Porthos’s Steve Speirs has had bit parts in other movies I’ve seen.

The movie, like a lot of the ones based on a legend, has an introductory card giving the back story; the English and Spanish are threatening France with war and King Louis XIII is a weak man, easily manipulated by Cardinal Richelieu. The Musketeers oppose the Cardinal. Next, we’re at a country home, a young boy sparring with his father; ’tis young D’Artagnan. A man in black rides in to demand taxes for the church, D’Artagnan’s father has nothing left to give. When D’Artagnan tries to stand up for his father, Febre kicks him. The father goes for his sword, but he’s cut down, as is his wife. D’Artagnan takes up his father’s sword and catches the man across his eye. Near dusk, an older man picks up D’Artagnan, Planchet. He will teach the boy.

Fourteen years later, Planchet and D’Artagnan stop at a tavern. They run into Rochefort (looking far fancier than I have ever seen Rochefort) and trouble. D’Artagnan shows off his skills fighting several guards at the same time; a vastly different fighting style than traditional swashbuckling films – a lot of martial arts mixed in. He and Planchet continue to Paris while Febre stops the Spanish envoy and slaughters them, leaving behind a Musketeer tunic. At the headquarters in Paris, D’Artagnan discovers from Porthos and Aramis that the Musketeers have been suspended, per the Cardinal’s orders and Treville is detained in one of his prisons. Meanwhile, Febre mocks confessing to the Cardinal, who is displeased he continues killing people. He wants political tension, not war. Buckingham is arriving soon and the Cardinal cannot have the king make peace with England. Without killing anyone, Febre is to make the king a fool in front of Buckingham. But, if needs must, Febre may kill.

D’Artagnan finds Bonacieux’s inn and is immediately attracted to the repulsive man’s beautiful niece, Francesca (a change from Constance, who is Bonacieux’s wife in the original text). But the young man also has a mission; he intends to rescue Treville from jail. He runs into Aramis and Porthos on the way and once he’s blown the doors, they do assist in fighting the guards. They all go into hiding together, though the young men go to a local tavern and Porthos introduces D’Artagnan to the rest of the suspended Musketeers. Athos is there (again, the original three are demoted to supporting characters and Athos is barely that).

Back at the inn, D’Artgnan hears creaking in the rafters; Bonacieux is peeping at Francesca bathing. D’Artagnan chases him away, but crashed through the ceiling into the bathing room. He and Francesca have a few tender moments together, Francesca explaining that her mother came with the queen from Spain [does that make Bonacieux her father’s brother? Bonacieux is a very French name; it would not make sense for him to be the brother of Francesca’s mother – though it does explain why she is named Francesca] as her seamstress. When she died, the queen has made an effort to help Francesca when she can.

That evening, at the banquet, the musketeers sneak into the palace as cooks and waiters. The banquet is then attacked by a mob of peasants, it seems. The musketeers sneak the king, queen, and Buckingham out, though not without several duels with very capable d'art and francescaopponents. Guards, disguised as rabble. When D’Artagnan returns to the inn, Francesca stops him and warns him that Rochefort and six of the Cardinal’s guards are in his room. They share a kiss for a moment, and then D’Artagnan gets away from the guards. In D’Artagnan’s room, Bonacieux confronts his niece, warning that they shouldn’t get on the wrong side of the Cardinal. He also wants their relationship to be better, in a disgusting way. She pulls a knife on him and threatens him. He scampers away and she takes a few moments in D’Artagnan’s room, finding an old Musketeer tunic.

D’Artagnan meets the Cardinal, who is very keen on finding out who D’Artagnan is, why he is in Paris and essentially, whose side the boy is on. He makes a pitch to persuade D’Artagnan to his side, but the lad is loyal to the ideals of the Muskteers. Febre emerges from the shadows after D’Artagnan has left. The Cardinal puts the next phase of his plan into action and has the Musketeers arrested (trumped up charges, of course). Treville declares he will no longer hide. Meanwhile, the Cardinal poisons Louis against his queen, having her dismissed from their discussion about Buckingham. So, Francesca asks D’Artagnan for help escorting the queen, in secret. When Athos, Porthos, and Aramis come to D’Artagnan for help freeing the other musketeers, he has to decline.

The small group encounters mercenaries on their ride (some more fight scenes, including D’Artagnan pulling an Indiana Jones stunt, making his way down the underneath of the carriage), but they make it to the home of an old friend of the queen. While Planchet waits for a blacksmith, D’Artagnan takes Francesca on a picnic. He explains that the old Musketeer tunic in his room was his father’s; when he was first taken in by Planchet, all he wanted was revenge, but the old man warned him that a Musketeer stood for higher goals. He gifts Francesca a tiny necklace and they exchange a few more kisses. After, D’Artagnan goes swimming and is in the water when Febre and his men appear. They take Francesca and shoot D’Artagnan after demanding where the queen is. D’Artagnan makes it to shore a little later and has to deal with the two men Febre left. But when he gets back to the house, the queen and Francesca are gone. A little girl holds the information; Febre had threatened to slit her throat to persuade the queen to write a letter to Buckingham. The man in black is holding everyone at Duchamp castle with an army.

D’Artagnan must wrangle together an army of his own. But the Musketeers are not keen to hear him, not after Treville died at the hand of Febre. Febre had come to Treville in his chambers and questioned him about D’Artagnan, both coming to the conclusion that it was Febre who had murdered D’Artagnan’s parents and it was D’Artagnan who had blinded Febre’s one eye. Then Febre burned the building. Febre had then gone to the Cardinal to inform him of the new plan, to kill the queen and Buckingham and thus igniting France and England into war. Louis would be disgraced and Richelieu could take the throne. Febre is mad. It’s said three times; it must be true [he’s more psychopathic, in my opinion]. Rochefort goes after Febre and is quickly killed for his trouble. The Cardinal meets with D’Artagnan in an alley and asks for the lad’s help in putting down his out-of-control monster. D’Artagnan agrees, but not for the Cardinal. When D’Artagnan confronts the Musketeers, they retort that his alliances are skewed, defending the queen rather than the king Disappointed, D’Artagnan leaves his Musketeer tunic, intent on rescuing everyone himself.

He is pleasantly surprised when the whole Musketeer corps comes to his aid outside of Duchamp. he wears his father’s tunic and they ride into battle. Planchet has a cannon hidden in his carriage, which helps break down the door. Now it’s Febre’s men versus the Musketeers. The queen and Francesca drop a bust out their window to show D’Artagnan where they are being held. He climbs up the tower, encountering four guards along with way. When he makes it into the room, Febre is ready to shoot the queen. Francesca steps in front of her, getting hit. But she tells a worried D’Artagnan, “I’m not dead, now will you please go kill him (most awesome line of the movie).” It’s a fierce duel between Febre and D’Artagnan, ending on ladders in a wine barn [not entirely sure what that building is]. As Febre is sliding down a ladder, D’Artagnan stabs him underneath.

D’Artagnan alongside Athos, Aramis, and Porthos are awarded medals by King Louis. France owes them a great debt and Buckingham owes them his life. As the Cardinal blesses D’Artagnan, the young man whispers he will come for the Cardinal, for his actions. Outside, Planchet’s carriage is decorated in flowers and Francesca has a beautiful new gown. When D’Artagnan goes to help her into the carriage, she mutters, “I’m not made of lace,” tripping her husband (I presume they are married now).

After falling in love with BBC’s series The Musketeers, this is a bit of a letdown (never fear, we will be getting to that series). I used to like it for its different fighting, but sometimes now it just makes the movie drag; like, how many crazy stunts can we make the actors do before we get a conclusion. The ending feels rushed. I hate how the original three Musketeers are harshly demoted. I understand this focuses on D’Artagnan, but so does the original and if you’re going to mention some of these other characters, at least do it properly. Why did another bad guy need created? I seriously thought Febre was Rochefort this entire time until I read the cast list. Francesca is a bit of an action girl, which is a redeeming feature for the film and she plays well opposite D’Artagnan. But he seems determined that he is the one to save everyone; he’s the main character to do any serious fighting.

Overall, a bit of a disappointment. I feel that they tried to do too different of a take and lost that swashbuckling quality that we love as a Musketeer film.

Next Time: The Man in the Iron Mask

“Oh don’t be stupid, of course we intend to resist!”

The Three Musketeers

Another all-star cast: Charlie Sheen is Aramis, Kiefer Sutherland is Athos, Chris O’Donnell (he’s the reason I watched NCIS: Los Angeles) is D’Artagnan, Oliver Platt (he’s in the various Chicago TV series) is Porthos, Tim Curry is an exceptional Cardinal Richelieu, Gabrielle Anwar (she’s appeared in Burn Notice and the last season of Once Upon a Time) is Queen Anne, as I’ve already mentioned, Michael Wincott (Guy of Gisborne from Prince of Thieves) is equally exceptional as Rochefort, and Paul McGann (the Eighth Doctor) is Girard [a relatively unimportant character, but my mind was blown when I thought the name was familiar and looked him up]. It is a Disney film, though I don’t think they tend to run it on their channel. Although it is a classic French story, none of the main actors are French, and luckily don’t try to sound it. It was one of the PG movies my mother let my brother and I freely watch (after she watched it the first time). And it is my favorite film version of the Three Musketeers story (I also love BBC’s Musketeers series, which we will get to at the end). I have tried to read Alexandre Dumas’s novel, twice, and gotten about ten pages in. Hopefully I get through it one day.

The first scene is in an underground lake that leads to a prison. Cardinal Richelieu is set up as the villain early on, instructing Rochefort to kill a man who just pled for mercy. A lighter scene is next, D’Artagnan dueling Girard in the country. Girard will avenge his sister’s honor, but makes the mistake of calling D’Artagnan’s father a disgrace to the Musketeers, mocking the young man’s plan to ride to Paris to join the guard’s ranks. Girard’s multiple brothers arrive to help Girard and D’Artagnan rides away, causing a mess of chaos (Girard’s voice gets hilariously high at times in his anger). Later, D’Artagnan sees two women riding, followed by two men. He assumes the women are in trouble, so knocks out the two men. He’s confronted by a gun held by one of the women. D’Artagnan admits he thought the men were bandits. The woman explains they were the queen’s personal bodyguard; meaning the other woman is the queen of France. She asks the young man for his name and his purpose. When D’Artagnan implies he would enjoy seeing the woman again, she states that it is forbidden for ladies in waiting to socialize with Musketeers. As they ride away, she gives D’Artagnan her name, Constance.

Meanwhile, in Paris, the Cardinal has disbanded the Musketeers; Rochefort announces they will have places in the infantry for the coming war with England. The Cardinal’s guards will protect the king now and if even one Musketeer resists, the whole guard will be imprisoned. Rochefort mocks, “all for one, and one for all.” The men remove their blue tunics and toss them into the fire, laying their swords on the ground. However, he has to admit afterwards to the Cardinal that three Musketeers have not turned themselves in. Richelieu is not pleased and orders Rochefort to take care of them, no excuses this time. In a controlled fit of fury, Rochefort slices a candelabra, naming “Athos, Prothos, Aramis” as he pokes the candle pieces apart.

When D’Artagnan arrives at the Musketeer headquarters, he encounters a man examining the burnt remains of the Musketeer banner, who brusquely inform the young man that the guard has been disbanded. D’Artagnan takes offense to the man’s tone and agrees to a duel outside the city walls later that day. D’Artagnan lands in more trouble throughout the morning, knocking into a man as he runs from Girard and his brothers. The man, introducing himself as the famous Porthos claims the sash he wears is a gift from the queen of America. D’Artagnan calls him on his lie and ends up with another duel scheduled. D’Artagnan is then landed on by another man; a priest running from an angry husband (the guard had cause to be angry, the priest was seducing his wife while he was supposed to be tutoring her on religion). The man apologizes, but D’Artagnan does not accept. A third duel.

In the palace, the Cardinal approaches the queen, inquiring of her happiness. He and her father, King Phillip III of Spain had hoped that the arranged marriage between her and Louis XIII would be a good match [Disney, unsurprisingly, got some historical facts mixed up. While Louis’s queen was known as Anne of Austria, she was indeed Spanish. Her mother was Margaret of Austria, no doubt how Anne received the title. So, when the Cardinal states “Austria’s loss is France’s gain” he’s wrong.] Anne admits that she and Louis have been distant since their wedding (which is historically true…just wait for Musketeers). Louis enters to speak with Richelieu; he’s displeased with the Cardinal’s timing of the Musketeers’ dismissal; those men were his friends and the king wanted to speak to them. He will judge what is best for himself and for France, standing up to the Cardinal. Afterwards, the Cardinal remarks to Rochefort that the boy is becoming as troublesome as his father; the Cardinal wishes to set himself on the throne.

The final three musketeers are waiting in a tavern for the Cardinal’s guards. Well, Porthos is waiting in the rafters to bring the house down. He misses Rochefort, whom they have not seen since he was drummed out of the Musketeers for conduct unbecoming a Musketeer. They should know the charges; they spoke against Rochefort. Athos informs Rochefort, who is to inform the Cardinal, they will continue their duty to1993 duels protect the king. Outmanned, Rochefort must let the three men leave. They meet with D’Artagnan outside the walls for their scheduled duels, revealing to the lad that they are all Musketeers. He will keep his word to fight them, but it will bring him no pleasure to kill them. Their duel is interrupted by the Cardinal’s guards again. D’Artagnan insists on joining their fight, making it a more even four against five. A rather fantastic fight sequence plays out, each Musketeer dispatching their guard (or two in the case of Aramis). D’Artagnan’s fight leads him to the top of the wall, which the guard eventually falls off. Still a devout man, Aramis administers last rights to the deceased; Athos quietly tells D’Artagnan that he was once one of the Cardinal’s students. Porthos cheerfully states, “you boy, are arrogant, hot tempered, and entirely too bold [he’s not wrong]. I like that, reminds me of me.” Aramis admonishes his friend, “don’t encourage him,” for he’s now made an enemy of Rochefort and the Cardinal. Rochefort appears after the three Musketeers ride away. D’Artagnan gets it in his head to ride at the man in black (like a joust), shouting “long live the Musketeers!” Rochefort knocks the boy off and another guard finishes knocking him out.

D’Artagnan wakes in a cell. Rochefort, holding D’Artagnan’s sword, which in turn was the lad’s father’s, demands to know where the other three Musketeers are. D’Artagnan doesn’t know, and even if he did, he wouldn’t tell the man. After Rochefort leaves, D’Artagnan sneaks out. He spots a cloaked figure who enters a room to speak to Richelieu. He never sees the figure direct, but we find out that it’s Milady de Winter, plotting with Richelieu. Well, they plot after Richelieu demonstrates that he is not a chaste cardinal and the reason why Milady’s previous husbands end up dead. Richelieu is planning a treaty with Buckingham which will put him on the throne. Milady is to take the treaty to England to obtain Buckingham’s signature. After Milady departs, Rochefort catches D’Artagnan listening. It comes out that D’Artagnan’s father was indeed a Musketeer, he died protecting the king, Louis’s father. Louis XII was then assassinated. Richelieu recognized the name and Rochefort minutely gestured to his patched eye; meaning that D’Artagnan’s father was the one who damaged it. Richelieu further mocks, that like the Knights of the Round Table, the Musketeers have outlive their usefulness.

The next morning, D’Artagnan is taken to be executed. Girard in the crowd gleefully calls out “don’t lose your head!” But the lad is pleasantly surprised when one hooded man finishes his prayer with “all for one, and one for all (Aramis).” The executioner then informs him that the axe was a gift from the tsarina of Tokyo (Porthos) [he’s mixing his countries again, a tsarina would be in Russia, not Japan; but it’s played for humor, so we’ll allow it.] They then attack the guards, freeing D’Artagnan and join with Athos who has stolen the Cardinal’s carriage. Richelieu puts a bounty on their heads as they careen out of Paris; he’s prefer them dead. “All for one, and more for me.” Porthos enjoys raiding the Cardinal’s snacks and offers Athos wine, something red for a chase. He remarks to D’Artagnan who takes the reins so Athos can drink, “you can’t have any, you’re too young.” (My brother’s and my favorite line of the movie). D’Artagnan passes along the information he overheard about the Cardinal’s treaty with Buckingham; the man rules England the way the Cardinal rules France. If the Musketeers can get the treaty, they can prove Richelieu guilty of treason. When the Cardinal’s guards come after them, they ride into a military camp, unhitch the horses, and light the carriage on fire, sending it towards their pursuers.

They take shelter further away in a tavern. Porthos and Aramis intend to educate D’Artagnan on the fine art of wenching, if he is to become a true Musketeer. Porthos’s advice is to focus on the kiss; Aramis recommends poetry. D’Artagnan fails at the poetry, so goes for the kiss. Athos much rather drink himself into a stupor (a little confusing after Porthos just mentioned that D’Artagnan is too young). D’Artagnan joins him and when he proposes a drink to love, Athos bitterly recounts a story of a count who married a beautiful woman, only to discover later that she was branded with the mark of a murderer, the fleur-de-lis. He banished his wife and ordered her executed. Afterwards, the count realized how much he had loved her and in despair, gave up his land, his title, his position.

The bounty hunters catch up to the Musketeers the next morning, forcing them to split up. D’Artagnan rides with Athos; Porthos with Aramis. In a quiet moment, Athos comments that he knew D’Artagnan’s father by reputation. He died as a result of a trap laid by another Musketeer, essentially murdered. But their tail catches up and Porthos orders D’Artagnan to continue to Calais. On the road, D’Artagnan passes out from a injury that he must not have realized he obtained. Milady is the one to find him and takes him to her chamber. He wakes up only in his breeches (and the camera likes to focus on Milady’s assets when it has the chance). Trying to either impress her or garner belief, he states that he is a Musketeer on a mission to intercept the spy. Considering she is the spy, Milady de Winter knows she has to take this young man out. She kisses him and pulls out a hairpin. In the brief struggle that follows, she is revealed to bear the fleur-de-lis mark. Her guards help knock D’Artagnan out and they don’t have time to properly kill him, so they must take him with them.

curry richelieuMeanwhile, in the palace, the Cardinal enters the queen’s bathing chambers, after the queen had been discussing love with Constance. He is a lecherous man and the queen is properly wary. The king has even heard rumors of Richelieu’s behavior, but the Cardinal passes it off, adding that there are rumors that he makes pigs fly along with plotting against the king and visiting the queen in her chambers.

Porthos and Aramis have reached the ship ahead of D’Artagnan and Milady and managed to kill the crew and scare off the men accompanying Milady. When Milady tries to flee, she’s stopped by Athos. This was his former wife; she’s alive because the Cardinal took pity on her. Athos can’t bring himself to shoot her, but the family of her last husband is more than glad to have her arrested and arrange for an execution. The following morning, Athos stops the execution and begs for Milady’s forgiveness. She gives it, and a small kiss, then whispers the Cardinal’s plan in Athos’s ear. She turns and jumps off the cliff they’re on, still paying for her crimes. The quartet ride back to Paris, firing arrows containing the message “All for One, One for All.” Other men, presumably Musketeers, uncover their hidden tunics and swords.

The day of the king’s birthday celebration dawns; our heroes sneak in to the palace grounds, searching for the assassin Milady told him about. He’s perched high on the roof, spotted by D’Artagnan who races up to him. The king and queen admit softly to each other they’re scared of the Cardinal. As they’re waving to the people, a shot is fired, but knocked off target by D’Artagnan tackling the assassin. Richelieu is quick to blame Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who have revealed their tunic. As the Cardinal’s guards race to action, other men come out of the crowd and reveal their Musketeer tunics. Athos orders, “save the king!” and the fight has begun. D’Artagnan struggles against the assassin until Porthos shoots a crossbow bolt.

Inside, the Cardinal reveals his plan; Rochefort will kill the king using a Musketeer’s sword, the same sword that failed to protect the king’s father (D’Artagnan’s sword). To comfort the grief-stricken country, Richelieu will assume the throne, with a queen by his side. The queen would rather die. “That can be arranged!” At that point, the fight spills inside. Athos takes on Rochefort and the Cardinal has the king and queen led away. Aramis stands in front of them, intent on arresting the Cardinal. The Cardinal shoots him, witnessed by Porthos, who also sees the Cardinal and his hostages go down a secret passage. Rochefort stabs Athos in the arm, causing the Musketeer to switch dueling hands. He manages quite well, but gratefully lets D’Artagnan take over. He and Porthos check on Aramis to find that his cross stopped the bullet. All three venture down the passage, but have to split up once they’re underground.

D’Artagnan takes his sword back and continues the duel with Rochefort. Rochefort divulges that he killed D’Artagnan’s father. D’Artagnan loses the sword for a moment, but continues to dodge Rochefort’s attack. In the end, Constance gets the sword to D’Artagnan as Rochefort goes for the kill. Instead, it’s Rochefort who’s stabbed.

Porthos encounters a very creepy guard, but manages to dodge him and the guard stumbles into spikes [I hated that part of the movie, I still turn away ’cause it’s creepy.] Athos fights the guards, later joined by Porthos, but the Cardinal and the king and queen manage to get on a boat. The Cardinal shouts that they’re still too late, by now Buckingham has signed the treaty and the alliance is complete. “That would be difficult, considering the treaty never left France!” Athos corrects. A minor setback; the Cardinal will return stronger than ever. Aramis flings off the cloak and quickly dispatches the guards. The king has Aramis pause before he takes on the Cardinal. Louis punches Richelieu instead.

Afterwards, there is a ceremony, the king thanks the three Musketeers and D’Artagnan and commissions the young man into his guard. D’Artagnan takes a moment to kiss Constance. Outside the palace, he quickly joins his mentors. Now what? They protect the king and queen, in the name of God and France. Girard reappears, ready to fight D’Artagnan again. The Musketeers also protect each other. “All for one, and one for all.” Girard screams and flees as the entire corps of Musketeers give chase.

As with Prince of Thieves, there’s a pop love song, All For Love, ironically enough sung by Bryan Adams (and Sting), who did the song for the former movie.

I love Tim Curry in this movie; he’s unapologetically a villain; he seems to enjoy it. Calm and cool one moment, but brief outbursts show he’s not a man to be trifled with. Michael Wincott shines a bit more in this film, not overshadowed by Alan Rickman. The primary Musketeer is D’Artagnan, but the others get their moments to shine. The action is fantastic. This is why I like sword fights, or at least, how I got interested in them. The king and queen have at least some backbone. The story is nicely developed, characters are well developed. Well, Constance is only there as a token love interest, but she at least holds a pistol and gives D’Artagnan his sword. Just an overall good movie.

Next Time: The Musketeer

“We’re in a Hurry Boys, We’ve Got a Long Way to Go”

Robin Hood

It has a cast and a half! Russell Crowe is Robin Longstride, Cate Blanchett is Marion, Max von Sydow (who has a filmography going back to the 50s) is Sir Walter Loxley, William Hurt (currently General Ross in the MCU) is William Marshal, Mark Strong (villainous Lord Henry Blackwood in the first Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes film) is villainous again as Godfrey, great British actress Eileen Atkins is Eleanor of Aquitaine, Mark Addy (Roland in Knight’s Tale and he appears in Game of Thrones) is Friar Tuck, and Matthew Macfadyen (Mr. Darcy in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice) is the Sheriff of Nottingham. This 2010 film was directed by Ridley Scott, the same man who brought us Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, and Kingdom of Heaven and provides an origin story for the hero. My family and I prefer this version as it attempts to show the history of the time period better (Hollywood still gets some facts wrong, but that surprises nobody). I watched the Director’s Cut for this viewing.

The film, set in 1192 opens with script stating “In times of tyranny and injustice when law oppresses the people, the outlaw takes his place in history. England at the turn of the 12th century was such a time.” We’re next in a forest where masked children sneak into Nottingham in the middle of the night to steal their grain. A woman, Marion, wakes the household to see about the ruckus. Back to the lettering: “King Richard the Lion Heart, bankrupt of wealth and glory is plundering his way back to England after ten years on his Crusade.” [Question from a historian: Since Richard prefered Normandy, a vassal state of France, why would he be plundering France?] Continuing: “In his army is an archer named Robin Longstride. This is the story of his return home where, for defending the weak against the strong, he will be condemned to live outside the law.”

We’re introduced to Robin and his men and their work as archers. Richard walks about camp that evening with his friend Robert of Loxley to find an honest Englishman. He finds Robin fighting Little John and asks Robin will God be pleased with his sacrifice? No. They are godless men after the massacre at Acre. Richard appreciates his honesty, but still puts him in the stocks. During battle the next day, Richard is killed by a lucky shot to the neck (that is historically accurate to a point). Robin and his crew break out of their stocks, before the rest of the army figures out what’s happening, giving them a head start to get passage back to England. They don’t owe god or man service, they make their own fates now.

Meanwhile, in England, Eleanor needs to have a discussion with her son, John. He has put aside his English bride and intends to marry Isabella of Angoulême, the niece of King Phillip of France. Oh yes, she has this conversation after she walks in on them naked in bed. Eleanor of Aquitaine was awesome like that. John needs to put aside the French pastry (as Eleanor refers to Isabella), take up his lawful wife and save England. Phillip is looking for any reason to invade England. John argues with his mother that his first wife, Isabel of Gloucester is barren; he will seek an annulment from the Pope [historically, he did and it was granted. He did marry Isabella, but kidnapped her and war was declared against Phillip, but in 1202]. Eleanor had gifted her husband Henry II with eight sons, but only two remain; Richard and John, the runt of the litter. Richard is now forty and has no legitimate children. Isabella, John argues, is a queen in the making, his own Eleanor. [Eleanor of Aquitaine brought a lot of land as her dowry to her marriage to Henry II. Hence how they had control of land in France.]

But while the royal family is bickering, King Phillip of France is making a deal with Godfrey, John’s oldest friend, to make England ripe for invasion. Kill King Richard and turn the country against John; there will be no better time to invade. Phillip will richly reward Godfrey. (Hollywood is playing a little loose with history) Godfrey and his men ambush the knights escorting Richard’s crown back to England, including Robert of Loxley; one part of the French plan is already accomplished. The knights are slaughtered, Godfrey killing Robert. The horse carrying Richard’s crown bolts and comes upon Robin and his men. They find the ambush site and chase off Godfrey and his men. Robin catches Godfrey on the side of his face with an arrow. Afterwards, Robin goes to Robert. Robert asks him to return his sword to his father, Sir Walter of Loxely; he had taken it in anger and without permission. Robin promises then gets an idea. The crown still needs delivered and it could be their ticket home to England; all the trappings they need to pass as knights are about them. They arrive in England as wealthy men; Fate has smiled upon them at last.

Things are not well in Loxley’s Nottingham. The children had stolen the grain needed for planting and the church will not part with its share; it’s bound for York. The Sheriff of Nottingham visits Marion, inquiring about taxes to the crown. She has the ability to change her status; marry the Sheriff and she’ll have protection. Sir Walter has no heirs beyond Robert, who has been gone ten years to the Crusades and may already be dead and he and Marion have no children. Nottingham will pass to the crown and Marion will be destitute. Marion, a spirited woman, refuses.

At the boat bound for England, Robin takes Robert of Loxley’s name. His lads pass a merry night drinking and singing Row Me Bully Boys. Robin unwraps the hilt of Robert’s sword, revealing the phrase “Rise and Rise Again, Until Lambs Become Lions.” He has a flashback to his past; he had told Robert that his father abandoned him at the age of six. When they dock in London (not Robin’s original plan; he did not want to have to face the dowager queen), Robin, as Robert Loxley, presents the crown to Eleanor. She then crowns John as the new king of England. John goes to reward Robin, but recalls that Nottingham owes taxes to the crown. The reward will go towards that. Advisor to the king, William Marshal approaches Robin after the impromptu coronation; he is friends with Sir Walter. He may have need of the man soon and will visit. Godfrey is in the background, watching. John cheerfully greets him and Godfrey orders his man, Belvedere to get rid of Robin (he knows him as the man who ambushed his ambush).

A few extended scenes for the Director’s Cut show more of the boys of Sherwood forest. Marion recognizes them from her village, and the boys also sneak up on Robin and his men, intent on stealing their gold. That wakes Robin in time to hear Belvedere’s approach.

John argues with William Marshal on taxing the northern barons. He feels that the barons are hoarding their wealth. Marshal and Eleanor argue that the country is under enough strain from funding the Crusades. John’s retort is those were his brother’s problems; he is the new king, those problems are over (not really). John dismisses Marshal, gives his station to Godfrey and allows Godfrey to go north and harass the barons. Pay, or die (that was Godfrey’s idea).

Robin and his men arrive in Nottingham; Robin keeps trying to get his men to leave, it’s not their duty and they would be safer split up. The men stay with Friar Tuck, who offers them mead from his bees, while Robin rides up to the manor. He first meets Marion helping the servants with a horse. She agrees to take him to Walter where both Loxleys learn that Robert is dead. Walter invites Robin to dinner, but first he needs a bath. Marion ends up helping him out of his chainmail (that is why knights had squires). Over dinner, Walter has a proposal for Robin; the man gives the old blind man his time, and in return, Walter will give Robin the sword. But, he must also agree to pass himself off as Walter’s son, and thus, Marion’s husband. Walter knows something about Robin’s past; he recognized the name ‘Longstride;’ called it a common, but noble Saxon name.

russell and cate robin hood

The men really enjoyed Tuck’s mead and celebrate in a local pub [I like the music being played]. Marion is not pleased to have to pretend that Robin is her husband. She has him lie in front of the fire, on the floor, and warns him she sleeps with a dagger. In the morning, she is to reacquaint her ‘husband’ with the village. His men are formally introduced; Little John, Welsh Will Scarlett (though he sounds Irish, further, the actor, Scott Grimes, is American), and Allan A’Dayle (played by Alan Doyle, lead singer for the Canadian group Great Big Sea [they play some Irish drinking songs]). Robin fills them in that he is currently Marion’s husband and continues to use Robert Loxley’s identity. Robin also discusses the grain situation with Friar Tuck, threatening to tell the higher-ups in the church about Tuck’s bees, so they too can partake in its bounty. Tuck knows the grain should stay in Nottingham, quietly putting the question to Robin, “what if the grain didn’t make it to York?” That evening, Robin wakes his men; they had their chance to leave, they’re still here, they have work to do. They ambush the men taking the grain. When demanded who they are, Robin replies “we are men of the hood, merry now at your expense.” [There’s cheery music played in the background.] Friar Tuck suggests they plant the grain under the moonlight. That way, when it sprouts, he can claim it was a miracle; the church will not argue with a miracle. Marion is shocked to find out that the fields have been planted. That’s all Robin says.

But more trouble is coming; the French have landed in England. A spy for Marshal gets word to him. The French force attacks Godfrey’s English escort, taking their places. They attack the northern estates; Godfrey declaring to the barons, “pay, or burn.” The barons argue they have paid enough, for Richard and his war, they have nothing left to give. These taxes are for King John, Godfrey states. John is not their king, is the reply. The men attack the church in York (that’s when you know you’re dealing with ruthless murderers). A map burns in the background, spreading through the northern lands. Belvedere rides ahead to their next stop, Nottingham, to speak with the Sheriff. The Sheriff is Godfrey’s man, but warns that there will be trouble from Loxley; the Crusader son, Robert has returned. Belvedere knows that Robert is dead. He spots Robin and reports back to Godfrey. Nottingham is to burn. Godfrey sends word to Phillip that the time has come for the invasion.

William Marshal meets with Eleanor; the crown is in peril. Godfrey is plotting with Phillip. The northern barons will declare war on the crown due to Godfrey’s actions, and that will leave England open for invasion. But Eleanor cannot speak to John; he will not listen. She goes to Isabella, she is the only one John will listen to. If she wishes to be queen, she must save John and England. Isabella tells John of Godfrey’s betrayal; John is understandably upset. He declares it must be lies, but Isabella holds a dagger to her chest, swearing it is true. John next rides to Marshal, but whines that Marshal abandoned him. He also doesn’t listen to reason when Marshal counsels that the barons need to unite for the defense of England. John would rather meet them on the field of battle for daring to rise up against him.

Robin and Marion grow closer. He spots her in the forest (in an extended scene) tending to the Sherwood boys. He offers to teach them, how to fight, how to make proper bows and weapons. He is not the enemy. The evening after the planting, the village gathers for a celebration; they have hope again. Marshal arrives to see Walter (another extended scene), asking for help persuading the barons to stand with John against the French. Meanwhile, Walter informs Marshal that Robin’s surname is Longstride. Marshal speaks to Robin and says he knew Robin as a boy. When he and Walter returned from the Holy Land, they went to retrieve Robin, but he was gone. Later that night, Walter tells Robin his history. Robin’s father was a stone mason, and a visionary. He had the idea that a king needs his subjects, as much as subjects need a king. It was Robin’s father who brought about the phrase “Rise and Rise Again, Until Lambs Become Lions.” The grand idea was to give rights to all ranks; he drew thousands to his cause. A charter was created, and signed by many of the barons, including William Marshal and Walter Loxley. Robin’s father refused to give up the charter and names to the king’s guards; he was executed. And Robin was there. At Walter’s coaxing, older Robin remembers the events.

– This is why I don’t quite fully understand the added scene a few minutes before, of Marshal telling Robin they had come to fetch him home. It appears to be Loxley and Marshal who carry young Robin away from his father’s death. Does the added scene mean that afterwards, they had gone on an earlier Crusade and when they had returned, Robin had already run off?

The next morning, Walter shows Robin his copy of the original charter, but they’re interrupted with news that the barons have amassed an army in Barnsdale to kill John. Marshal requires Walter’s help. Walter sends Robin, like a father would send a son. Robin and his men ride to Barnsdale and we see the same Celtic cross that was in Robin’s memory. He removes a stone to reveal his father’s phrase, and his small handprint alongside his father’s. Barnsdale was where he was born. Marshal and the barons are arguing, Marshal still insisting that the barons unite with John to repel the French. John arrives and the argument continues. The barons insist they will be subject only to the laws they have a hand in making. John’s argument is that a king does not bargain for the loyalty he is owed by every man. Without loyalty, there is no kingdom. Robin chimes in, stating he speaks for Walter Loxley. The laws of this land enslave the people to their king. A king who demands their loyalty and offers nothing in return. But, if the king were to empower every man, the king would gain strength. Robin calls again for justice, for a charter of liberties; liberty by law. This will earn John the loyalty, and love, of his people. Marshal urges his king that this is his chance to unify his subjects. John gives his word that a charter will be written. [This argument is really the basis of the Magna Carta, which wasn’t written until 1215.]

They receive word that Godfrey has attacked Nottingham. Marshal and the king go to the French landing; Robin and a few other barons will catch up once they’ve settled matters in Nottingham. Godfrey’s men slaughter the people of Nottingham and demand taxes. Belvedere locks Marion away, fully intending to rape her. She uses her dagger to stab him. The boys of Sherwood come to the rescue of the village, helping Marion unlock the barn the French had shoved the villagers into, intent on burning it to the ground with everyone inside. The French even burn the Sheriff’s home, despite him being Godfrey’s man. Walter comes out and fights Godfrey, incensed when the man admits he killed Robert. Robin and a portion of the army ride in to settle everything. Robin wrangles the location of Phillip’s landing out of an officer. Then finds out that Walter is dead. After the funeral, Robin must ride with the army. He parts with Marion, who has already said goodbye to one man riding to war, saying he loves her, and kisses her.

The French landing craft look an awful lot like the landing craft used by the Allies during World War II at the Normandy landing. Robin and Marshal help the king direct the archers to the cliff, the cavalry to the beach. John is eager for his first battle. He refuses to stay behind the army; it was never close enough for Richard. Well, look what happened to Richard, Marshal points out, but John still rides ahead. Marion, dressed as a knight, arrives with the boys of Sherwood. Robin’s not pleased that she’s come, but directs her to join the rest of the cavalry. After several volleys of arrows, the cavalry charge. Phillip notes that this does not look like a country at war with itself. Marion goes after Godfrey for Walter’s death, but she’s no match. Robin takes up the fight (while Marion was knocked into the water and the unfamiliar weight of the chainmail keeps her from rising and in danger of drowning). When Robin ends up between two boats, Godfrey takes off on his horse. Robin emerges from the water, grabs his bow, and nails Godfrey in the throat. The French yield, to Robin Longstride (how and when they found out his name, I’m not sure), not to John.

The day John is due to sign the charter, he changes his mind. “I did not make myself king, king john outlawGod did. King by divine right.” [Historically, yes, this was a common notion, but it didn’t really become a major political theory until the seventeenth-century]. This document before him seeks “to limit the authority given to me by God.” He burns the charter amidst the barons protests. He then charges Robin Longstride of theft and incitement to cause unrest. The man pretended to be a knight, a crime punishable by death. John declares Robin and “Outlaw!” (he gets really angry on that word). In Nottingham, the Sheriff reads the decree and an arrow is shot to hold the paper when he asks for a nail. Robin of the Hood now dwells in Sherwood alongside Marion, his men, and the boys. The film closes with the script, “and so the legend begins.”

So, the story of this film manages to explain why Robin Hood was both gifted at archery and a noble [nobles were typically more skilled at sword fighting, since they had the money for a steel weapon, than archery, a poor man’s weapon]. It shows how Robin ended up in Sherwood forest and had so many followers. It works in his conflict with the Sheriff and John. John was definitely more accurate and played a bigger role in this film; which I can appreciate as a historian. He lived in his brother’s shadow for years. He’s not a buffoon; neither he nor the Sheriff are evil for the sake of being evil, they have a reason. Godfrey, as some fans have pointed out, ended up incredibly powerful on his own in England, why did he need to ally with France? My guess, maybe he just didn’t like John and finally figured out how to get rid of him without having the blame cast on him. Didn’t work out so well.

Marion is not related to royalty in this story, which actually makes more sense; that was always one of those dangling plot points in typical Robin Hood legends. Like, why was she a royal ward, or how was she related to King Richard? It gave a more believable relationship growth between Marion and Robin, rather than she falls in love with him in like a day (looking at you, Errol Flynn, Prince of Thieves, and Men in Tights). It’s a grittier story, like a lot of Ridley Scott films, most certainly not a happy romp through the forest. We didn’t get a lot of back story on Alan A’Dayle, Will Scarlett, or Little John; but they weren’t the focus. I appreciated the inclusion of Eleanor of Aquitaine and other historical supporting members. I’m not as keen on the whole subplot of the charter of rights, since that didn’t happen until later, but again, Hollywood is not known for its historical accuracy. It gives Robin something else to fight for, yes, and a reason for Prince John personally to be set against him (because typically, why would the ruler of the entire country be worried about one thief in a forest?)

The action is great, the costumes are wonderfully accurate, I like parts of the soundtrack. Overall, this is my favorite Robin Hood movie.

Who is your favorite Robin or other character? Do you like a happy tale or a gritty tale?

Up Next: To France for Alexander Dumas’ tale The Three Musketeers

(No, I’m not doing the most recent rendition. Two reasons: one, not on DVD yet for me to be able to pause or anything, and I haven’t seen it. Two: it’s like the most recent King Arthur movie, which is just a way to get people piqued enough to watch an action movie. Just make the action movie and leave historical characters out of it. They were not all secret assassins or whatever you’re trying to do.)

Disney’s Second Attempt at the Robin Hood Legend, or, That Time Disney Tried to Re-Write English History

Princess of Thieves

Produced by the Wonderful World of Disney, it tells the tale of the daughter of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. Stuart Wilson (who is Don Rafael Montero, the antagonist of The Mask of Zorro) is Robin Hood and Kiera Knightley is Gwyn (ironically, she will play Guinevere in 2004’s King Arthur). This is the movie that really got me thinking of a kickass heroine who fights like a man, the starting point for my fantasy series [it will get written, someday] This is also the movie that really got me into the legend of Robin Hood.

Opening narration claims that history has forgotten the tale of Robin Hood’s child. It places the story in 1184, which is oddly before a lot of other Robin Hood tales take place. And historically, before King Richard even took the throne. (But, we don’t tend to count on Disney for historical accuracy). Cardaggian, the Sheriff of Nottingham’s man, reports to his master that Robin Hood has had a child, should they put a price on the infant’s head. Equal to the one on his father’s, the Sheriff declares. “Robin Hood will not have a son.” The Sheriff misunderstood Cardaggian, the baby is a girl. They laugh and apparently do not put a price on the infant’s head. We never see Marian, but we hear her ask Robin to protect their daughter. I am assuming this is a polite way to show that Marian died as a result of childbirth. We do see a cute transition of Gwyn growing up; she appears to have lived at an abbey with Friar Tuck. Her best friend is a young student, Froderick (and reminds me a bit of Ever After, which came out three years prior to this film); she later tells Friar Tuck she does not view Froderick as husband material, though it is evident that Froderick has developed feelings for Gwyn. Gwyn has grown to hate how often and how long her father is gone and wishes he was not so loyal to the king. She can count his visits on one hand, now she’ll need two for he and Will Scarlett are on their way home.

However, their world is about to be thrown into chaos; Richard is dying. And the king has apparently stated he wants his illegitimate son, Phillip to take the throne over John. John disguises himself as a messenger and rides to Nottingham to deliver the news to the Sheriff. Phillip is due to land in England soon and the natural assumption is that Robin, as supremely trusted by Richard, will greet the boy and secure his passage through England. John wants Phillip dead. The Sheriff charges Cardaggian with the task. They will know the young man by his signet ring.

Gwyn happily greets her father, who is surprised to see how much his daughter has grown. But he quickly passes her over and cheerfully greet his friends. Robin gets the notice to help Phillip and so must leave again. Gwyn begs her father to let her accompany him; he refuses and even makes comments that she will have other chances to meet the prince. She doesn’t want to go to meet the “absent son of an absent king;” she wants to help her father; she’s as good as a son. She’s willing to fight, and possibly die, for his cause. He orders her to stay at the abbey, where she belongs. Later, to Frodrick, she complains that father and daughter shouldn’t be fighting each other, they should be fighting side by side against Prince John. She’d rather be the master of her own destiny, than a slave to her fears. So, she cuts her hair that evening and sneaks into Frodrick’s room to borrow his clothes; she can pass herself as a boy (that only works if you do not have a lot of curves).

Gwyn princess of thieves

In France, Phillip is journeying to the coast to make his way to England. He’s in the company of a French countess and his valet, Conrad; the two men share a strong physical resemblance to each other. Phillip has no desire to wear the crown; as king, he would be expected to do something about war and plague and uprisings. When they stop for the evening, Conrad overhears their escort discussing Phillip’s murder. He sneaks his friend out and they make the crossing on their own. Phillip lends Conrad his jacket when the other man gets cold.

In the neighboring shire where Phillip is to arrive, Gwyn mimic’s her father’s heroics and stands up for a hungry child to a nobleman. She leads the guards on a merry chase, which ultimately acts as a perfect distraction for Will and Robin to sneak in. Frodrick followed her and they meet up in the forest, where the Sheriff’s men are searching for Phillip. They have to separate and Gwyn is soon outnumbered. Two men jump to her rescue; Will and Robin. Robin is displeased at his daughter’s disobedience. They agree to find Frodrick. The young man was captured, but Nottingham has him released and followed, figuring he’ll lead him to something. Robin meets Frodrick in the chapel that evening, which turns out to be a trap. Frodrick and Gwyn escape, but Will and Robin are captured and taken to the Tower of London for questioning. Gwyn sends Frodrick back to the abbey for help, she will follow her father.

Phillip and Conrad have landed in England and go to meet “Robin Hood.” Cardaiggan stands in, giving the secret phrase. Phillip had let Conrad lead the visit and they’re about to switch back, passing off the signet ring, when Conrad is shot in the back. Phillip escapes. Gwyn eventually comes across his horse. They scuffle for a bit, but Phillip quickly realizes that Gwyn is a woman, not a man as she appears. He’s willing to give her the horse; a lady should not have to walk, he states. Do women not have legs and feet, Gwyn argues. Very well, they will share the horse.

In London, John and the French countess examine the body of “Phillip.” The countess realizes that it is Conrad they had killed; Phillip is still alive. John is furious. He tortures Robin for Phillip’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Gwyn and Phillip end up in an argument over Robin Hood. Phillip believes that he killed his friend; he’s continuing the charade that he is the valet, Conrad. Gwyn states that it’s not possible and reveals that she is Robin Hood’s daughter. This carries on into a discussion on John and England. “Conrad” (aka Phillip) feels that John may be the better king, since he knows England and Phillip doesn’t want the crown. Gwyn tells her companion about the hardships the English people face under John. A prince has an obligation to his people. They hear about an archery tournament in Nottingham, where they assume Robin was taken. The winner will be able to get into the castle. In true Robin Hood style, Gwyn ultimately wins by splitting the Sheriff’s arrow. The Sheriff notes the similarity in style. At the feast that evening, Phillip recognizes Caradiggan and they have to leave before he’s spotted. They run into the friars. Phillip ends up in a discussion with Frodrick and thinks that the two are brother and sister. Frodrick claims they’re betrothed; he sees the way Gwyn looks at Phillip.

The friars have managed to capture the Sheriff, who is out looking for Phillip. Frodrick is tasked with guarding the Sheriff overnight. The older man wiggles his way out of the ropes and knocks out Frodrick. (Um, he didn’t get hit that hard, I don’t know why he didn’t just get back up and was out until morning). Gwyn is angry at Frodrick. “Conrad” keeps his promise to rescue Robin and still heads out for London. “Conrad” and Gwyn step away for a few quite moments; Gwyn sets the record straight that she is not betrothed. Conrad is pleased and kisses her. However, when they get back to the main camp, word has spread amongst the people that Phillip is still alive. Conrad reveals himself to be Phillip, the proof is his signet ring. He had hoped to get back to France quietly and live out his life. But they have shown him that he needs to take the crown and help them. Prince John’s army attacks. In the fray, Gwyn notices that the Sheriff takes aim at Phillip. She calls out a warning, but Frodrick is closer and takes the arrow for the prince (the lad lives, ’tis a shoulder wound).

Phillip and Gwyn continue to the Tower to rescue Robin while John proceeds with his coronation. They find Gwyn’s father, and he orders them on to stop the coronation. He’ll find Will. In the castle yard, the friars take on the guards and Robin battles the Sheriff. Caradggian catches Robin and suggests the Sheriff shoot him with an arrow, how poetic. But the arrow is caught by another, by Gwyn. The Sheriff is now the one outnumbered. Phillip breaks into the coronation and demands the crown, as Richard’s chosen successor. John is correct that he is king by law (and historically, Richard never had Phillip crowned king; there has never been a King Phillip of England [queens have married a Phillip, Mary I did, as has Elizabeth II]). He then shouts for everyone to kill Phillip. They won’t listen to him anymore; they have another prince to back, one who won’t tax them into poverty.

The film ends with Phillip about to be crowned. Gwyn has her hair done prettily and is wearing a fancy dress. Phillip has give Frodrick a job on his council, but Gwyn will not marry Phillip, claiming she is a commoner (a bit of a break from traditional lore, since Robin is typically viewed as a noble and Maid Marian is almost always viewed as nobility and a relation of some sort to Richard). Phillip wishes they could be Conrad and Gwyn again, if only for a minute. Gwyn vows to serve Phillip the same way Robin served Richard. Phillip accepts, and Robin and Gwyn will both serve their new king. Closing narration states that history will forget Phillip (um, yeah, cause he was never king) and he never married, instead, he pledged his heart to a common woman, of uncommon valor.

The movie is good as a Wonderful World of Disney production. The fight sequences are nothing spectacular. Costumes are closer to period accurate than some. Gwyn and Phillip were well developed; it’s a Disney production, so of course, there had to be a bit of romance. Honestly, the film would have been completely fine without that little niggle. Gwyn is aware of her shortcomings and apologizes when she does wrong. Robin learns to accept the child he has; even though he wanted a better life, his daughter grew up to be just like him; he cannot protect her forever. I like Gwyn’s spunk and as I already stated, it was an inspiration to characters I write. An enjoyable watch, but not a favorite.

Up Next: 2010’s Robin Hood

“Always On Guard, Defending the People’s Rights”

Robin Hood: Men in Tights

Another of Mel Brooks’ spoofs (like Spaceballs was of Star Wars). Stars Cary Elwes (most famous for Princess Bride, but I also knew him from Lady Jane [he plays Guilford Dudley, husband to Lady Jane Grey, the nine days’ Queen of England between young Edward VI and Mary I]; and Elwes later plays the conniving villain in Ella Enchanted) as Robin, a whole bunch of actors that I should know, but don’t. I do know that Eric Allan Kramer, Little John, goes on to play the dad in Disney Channel’s Good Luck Charlie. It took me a while to accept to watch this movie originally; I’m not that big into parodies. But now I watch it and chuckle.

The film opens with flaming arrows, recalling the flaming arrows from Prince of Thieves. Except now we see the other side; the village that gets burned. The brief intro and back story are given by Merry Men rappers, interspersed with “hey nonny nonny,” (an Elizabethan expression). Similar to Prince of Thieves, we next see a prison in the Holy Land, that they try to run like a hotel. Robin quickly escapes, this time with everyone. His compatriot, Asneeze, asks Robin to look after his son, Achoo, an exchange student in England. Robin kisses the shores of England (again, a call to Prince of cary elwes robin hoodThieves), though there’s a Hollywood-like “England” sign (and Rule Britannia playing). He obtains a horse (muttering “my kingdom for a horse,” a line from Shakespeare) and is now in familiar brown and green garb, including tights; an homage to Errol Flynn’s costume. He comes upon a young lad being beaten by guards and figures it’s Achoo. He unleashes several arrows tied together to chase the guards away.

They walk to Loxley Hall, only to find that it’s being carted away. Robin’s blind servant, Blinkin (again, taken from Prince of Thieves), informs Robin that his entire family, including pets, are dead. But they left him “the key to the greatest treasure in the land,” worn on a cord around the neck. The trio next encounter the Sheriff of Rottingham, who speaks out of order when he gets flustered. It’s rather hilarious. Robin soundly sends Rottingham on his way.

Marian sings a song of finding her true love (well, at least she’s honest about what role she plays in the story). She wears an Everlast chastity belt and is overseen by Broomhilda. Prince John does appear in this film; he and Rottingham interact like John and Gisborne did in Errol Flynn’s film. Mortiana is now Latrine, not quite as creepy; she lusts after Rottinghamn, instead of serving him.

Little John and Robin indeed fight on a bridge (though as Achoo points out, the stream is barely a trickle; they could simply walk across). The staves get shorter and shorter as they keep breaking them, until they’re hitting each other’s knuckles. Robin wins. He then meets Will Scarlett…O’Hara, who’s from Georgia; this was preceded by a joke between Blinklin and Achoo, over the misinterpretation of “Hey Blinklin,” as “Abe Lincoln.” Robin crashes the Prince’s party alone and that scene is a strong takeoff of Errol Flynn’s portrayal: bringing in a wild beast for the feast, charming John and Marian. Why should the people of England listen to Robin to revolt against John? “Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent.” This is calling out Kevin Costner for not having an English accent in Prince of Thieves. It’s been said that he tried, but it came out really bad. Also, I certainly hope Elwes can speak with an English accent; he is English! Rottingham really gets his words mixed up when Marian likes Robin’s flirtations. He challenges Robin to a duel, just them, and Rottingham’s guards. They all line up, knights in armor. Robin swings into one and they go down like dominos. He and his men escape and rally the villagers in Sherwood forest, Robin parodying Winston Churchill speeches from the second World War. They get their uniform: green tights, brown tops, and pointy hats.

The Sheriff asks for help to get rid of Robin. I’m sure it’s a play on the Godfather; not my favorite part; it’s different, it’s funny (I guess), but it comes across like Rottingham and Prince John can’t come up with the idea on their own. Marian overhears the plot and rides to warn Robin. His Merry Men just finished singing about their tights (it is a rather hilarious ditty). He does not really promise to not attend the archery tournament, but he steps away with Marian for some romancing. There’s an overdone song (if it wasn’t obvious, neither Marian nor Robin do their own singing. They hired professional singers). Broomhilde still interferes with them kissing and the ladies return to the castle. The next day, his loyal followers wear dresses to sneak in while Robin wears an obvious disguise, looking like Mark Twain (all these calls to the future…this is why I don’t watch parody movies).

Shock of shocks, Robin loses the archery tournament! Wait, breaking the fourth wall, pull out the scripts. He’s in luck, he gets another shot! This time, he pulls out the big arrow, the Patriot Arrow (based off the Patriot Missle), it pulls some physics-defying stunts and he wins! Rottingham captures him, but Marian offers herself as Rottingham’s wife if he spares Robin. As John states, there will either be a wedding or a hanging.

Robin is strung up, ready for the hangman. Rottingham has the alter set next to the gallows, so Marian will be less inclined to change her mind. There’ a “Hey Abbot!” joke [I have never seen that show, but I know of it] along with historically inaccurate organ and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March [again, this is why I don’t watch parodies]. Rottingham’s first name is Mervin, poor sap. Achoos shoots through Robin’s rope just as Marian has to vow to obey Rottingham. Well, Rottingham will have her, whether they’re married or not. He carries her off and Robin gives chase, rather like Prince of Thieves. “Prepare for the fight scene,” Robin declares; and it turns out rather good. Cary Elwes does have experience fencing from his time in Princess Bride. A little break for shadow puppets and the cord around his neck is cut, releasing the key that fits perfectly into Marian’s chastity belt. Robin unknowingly stabs Rottingham, but Latrine to the rescue, if Rottingham promises to marry her instead. He agrees, then changes his mind when she drags him off.

Outside, Robin prepares to marry Marian, since Broomhilde insisted. Rabbi Tuckman, a play on Friar Tuck, and portrayed by Mel Brooks himself, performs a very short ceremony, but he’s interrupted by a Scottish voice. Sir Patrick Stewart cameos as King Richard, like Sir Sean Connery did in Prince of Thieves, hence the Scottish accent. A few things he has to take care of; John has surrounded his name with a foul stench and thus, all the toilets in the land will now be called “johns.” He knights Robin. Then, it is his royal right to kiss the bride. As Rabbi Tuckman mutters, it’s good to be king. Robin and Marian are wed and happily ever after! (Though they have a bit of difficulty with the key their wedding night.)

Overall: the “Men in Tights” song is funny, I like the dig at Costner for not having an English accent, the sword fighting sequences are good. But, if I’m going to sit down and watch a Robin Hood movie; and I actually want a plot and drama and a story, it won’t be this one. The bad guys are complete idiots (and if they’re bad guys worthy of the caliber of intelligent heroes, they have to have some brains). Marian is simply the swooning damsel in distress. I understand the film is wholly comedic and I also know that I don’t tend to get humor. I’m more of a fan of snark and sarcasm and witty banter. Give me best friends bickering and I chuckle.

So, what is your opinion of parody films? Love ’em, hate ’em?

Next Time: Princess of Theives