“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

“Why a Spoon?”

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

A 90s action take on the Robin Hood legend, it was a favorite in my house until the Russell Crowe version came out. It features an all-star cast, headed up by Kevin Costner (decorated for Dances with Wolves – have not seen) as Robin, Alan Rickman is his equal as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater is Will Scarlett, Brian Blessed as Lord Locksley, Michael Wincott (he’ll later show up as Rochefort in Three Musketeers) as Guy of Gisborne, and Michael McShane (I recognize him as funny Professor Keenbean from the Richie Rich movies) as Friar Tuck. The theme from the film is now used by Disney promotions on their DVDs (no, this is not a Disney film).

The background to the opening credits is the Bayeux tapestry, an embroidered cloth that depicts the Norman conquest. This rendition is set in 1194 and starts in a prison in Jerusalem. English war prisoners are tortured and the guard turns to another man, claiming he stole something, of which the punishment is to lose a hand. Another prisoner speaks up to spare the man, but they’re both unchained. He does not flinch from the sword, displaying “English courage.” At the last minute, he pulls back, causing the guard to lose his hand. He fights his way out, aided by a Moorish prisoner. The three make it out, but the leader’s friend is killed topside. With his dying breath Peter requests his ring be taken back to his sister and the man is to promise to protect her. The two men left introduce themselves as Azeem, the Moor, and Robin of Locksley. Since Robin saved his life, Azeem will follow him until the debt is repaid.

Back in England, Lord Locksley is writing a letter to find out what has befallen his son in the Holy Land. He’s interrupted by his servant Duncan and another man who says that his family is in danger. The Lord rides out, to find a crew of men in white cloaks (who look disturbingly like the KKK) waiting for him. They’re headed by the Sheriff who gives Locksley the choice, join us, or die. Locksley declares “never” and rides to meet them.

Four months later, Robin and Azeem land on English shores at the White Cliffs of Dover. Robin is so pleased to be home, he kisses to ground. He keeps trying to send Azeem home, but the Moor is determined to fulfill his oath. Azeem is an educated and wise man; he stays a few steps behind Robin, stating it is safer to appear his slave in this land than his equal. He maintains his prayers, even when Robin is fighting the Sheriff’s men, led by Guy of Gisborne. Robin does defeat the men and sends Gisborne back to the Sheriff with the message to stay off his land. Unfortunately, Robin arrives home to find the castle burned and his father decaying in a hanging cell. Old Duncan, now blinded, reports that Locksley was accused of devil worship and supposedly confessed to the crime. Robin now will not rest until he has avenged his father, swearing it in blood.

Gisborne reports to his cousin, the Sheriff at Nottingham castle. An eye is watching through the wall and we shortly meet its owner, Mortiana, a creepy, creepy witch. I do not watch how she scries for the future, nope. But she foresees that the Lionheart (Richard) is proceeded home by the son of a dead man (Robin). The Sherriff asks if that will affect their plans. She’s seen their deaths, at the hand of a painted man, who they determine is the Moor traveling with Robin [um, did Gisborne even see the guy? How do they know this?].

Robin next visits Peter’s home to deliver the news to his sister. He’s brought in to see “Maid Marion,” who has changed since they were kids. A masked guard attacks and when Robin holds their hand over a fire to relieve them of their sword, a feminine scream emits. This is the real Marion, who is a cousin to King Richard. She remains at her ancestral land to take care of the people and only sees Robin as the spoiled son of a lord who used to bully her and burn her hair. She insists that she does not need Robin’s protection. Their conversation is interrupted when Gisborne and his men approach. Marion urges Robin to leave and forces him to by claiming he stole her horse. Robin, Azeem, and Duncan escape into Sherwood forest, which is supposed to be haunted. ‘Tis not haunted, ’tis overrun by bandits. Robin must fight Little John to cross the river; he ends up dunked a few times, but they laugh and become comrades.

After we witness the Sheriff’s true devotion to the Old Ways; he was raised by the witch rickman sheriffat his parents’ dying wish, he attempts to charm Marion (she knows not to trust him). Meanwhile, Robin visits the church to gather information. The bishop stands by the story that his father was a devil worshipper. Robin does not believe it (nor does Marion or anyone who truly knew the man). On his way out, Robin runs into the Sheriff and cuts his cheek. The Sheriff’s yells “I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon!” Later, Gisborne inquires “why a spoon?” “Because it’s dull and will hurt more, you twit!” (Such a memorable line!)

Robin now plans to lead the outlaws of Sherwood forest. Will Scarlett doesn’t trust him and some of his fears are founded when the Sheriff begins terrorizing the people, looking for Robin. The Sheriff is puzzled why the people love Robin when their love causes the Sheriff to hurt them and tax them. Robin steals from the Sheriff and redistributes to the poor. The Sheriff is so put out, among canceling kitchen scraps and merciful beheadings, he “calls off Christmas.” Robin and the outlaws of Sherwood continue to attack wagon trains of the Sheriff, including one containing Friar Tuck. He is, at first, wary of the outlaws and tries to make a run for it, but soon settles in and preaches beer. Guy of Gisborne has no luck catching Robin and eventually cries to his cousin. His cousin soothes him, then stabs him, remarking, “at least it wasn’t a spoon.”

Marion and her servant Sarah are out riding one day through the forest when two of Robin’s dimmer men attempt to attack them. The two women fend for themselves, but Marion insists on seeing Robin. She catches him bathing, but once he dresses he shows her around the village. He has collected blood money that the Sheriff intended to use to buy the barons and unite them against Richard. His father taught him that nobility is not a birthright, it’s action. Robin is trying to live up to his father’s example after parting with him before the Crusade in anger. Robin also shares the tale of his father seeking comfort with a peasant woman after Robin’s mother’s death. Robin was an angry and hurt twelve-year-old boy and his father gave up the woman to please Robin. As Robin sends Sarah and Marion on their way, he asks Marion to first, look after Duncan. And second, get word to Richard about the events in England. She agrees, for Robin’s sake.

The Sheriff continues his plans, Mortiana advising him to use the Celts to take care of Robin. The barons are not willing to blindly follow the Sheriff, since he can’t produce the promised payment. To secure his throne, he must wed royal blood. He intends to marry Marion. Mortiana had suggested the same idea, after revealing that she is actually the Sheriff’s mother (the Sheriff had discovered her spying on him and demanded answers). She had killed the babe of the real Sheriff (and probably killed the parents later as well). If her son lies with the royal line and a child is produced, her blood will eventually end up on the throne.

Marion drafts the note to Richard and insists that Sarah accompany the messenger. The messenger later knocks Sarah out and the note ends up in the Sheriff’s hand and also revealing that the bishop works for the Sheriff. The Sheriff has Marion abducted from her home and holds her captive at his castle. Duncan runs to get Robin, not knowing he’s been followed. The blind man inadvertently leads the Celts and the army to the camp, where the army lights the camp on fire. Several men, and a boy, are captured and Robin is presumed dead after he falls from a burning rope.

The Sheriff offers Marion to spare the captive children’s lives, as a wedding gift. He shows her Robin’s cross as proof that the man is dead. He then tortures the rest of his prisoners to find out if the hero really is dead. Will Scarlett has no love lost for Robin and offers to be a double agent; he can get close to Robin and if Robin doesn’t trust him, then the Sheriff needn’t worry. The Sheriff still has him lashed, to make it believable.

Robin is not dead. And he correctly suspects Will when he returns to camp. When asked why he hates Robin so much, Will reveals that he is the son of the peasant woman Robin’s father had spent time with. He is Robin’s half-brother. Robin is so pleased to have kin, he embraces his brother and swears that he will finish the fight he started. He comes up with a plan. Azeem knows how to make black powder (historically inaccurate for that time period; yeah, BBC’s Robin Hood also got that wrong), so he and the Friar set barrels of it around the scaffolding. Other men sneak in weapons and get into position. Will is flaming arrowrecognized and captured at the public hanging and gets tied to one barrel. The Sheriff orders the executions to begin, starting with Little John’s son. The first plan is now out the window, but Robin has to act. He shoots the rope strangling the boy, revealing himself to the guards. But Azeem is ready to light the powder kegs. Many awesome explosions and arrows flying, the theme plays in the background. Little John crashes into the scaffolding. Robin shoots a flaming arrow (the scene that’s in every promo) to save Will. Marion screams for Robin and he’s off to rescue his lady. Azeem rallies the English to fight back against the Sheriff’s troops, then joins Robin inside the castle.

Mortiana insists that the Sheriff wed and bed Marion immediately; the time is ripe. The bishop hurriedly performs the ceremony, while Azeem and Robin pound on the door. – There’s so many things wrong with that scene, mainly ‘let’s show a woman married against her will and what follows.’ [I know somewhere there is a medieval law that forbade women being married unwillingly.] Mortiana goes to stop the men and encounters Azeem. She stabs him, but he impales her in return. Robin takes an alternate route, swinging in through the window. The bishop rushes out, only to run into Friar Tuck who assists in packing his gold, then pushing him out a window. Robin and the Sheriff face off, the Sheriff gleefully using Robin’s father’s sword against him. Marion helps distract the Sheriff a little, but mainly stays out of the way. John eventually has Robin pinned; when he rears back for the fatal blow, Robin pulls out a dagger and stabs the Sheriff. It’s a slow death, the Sheriff even pulling out the dagger. When we think it’s all through, Mortiana pops back up (where did she come from, wasn’t she dead?). But Azeem to the rescue again, finally breaking in the door and throwing his sword. He has fulfilled his vow to save Robin’s life.

Robin and Marion kiss and we next see their wedding. When Friar Tuck gets to the “speak now” part, a man commands them to hold. Everyone turns; it’s Richard! (Cameo by Sir Sean Connery!) His only objection is that he gives away the bride. He thanks Robin, Lord Locksley, for without him, Richard wouldn’t have a throne. Very well, Friar Tuck announces them man and wife. The couple may kiss.

My take: the action is good, I mean, explosions make everything more exciting (when used in moderation). The Sheriff’s and Robin’s duel is not my favorite sword fight, but still decent. Alan Rickman plays an excellent villain; he’s just smarmy (a bit like Snape, though the Sheriff ranges between quiet and deadly and loud and demanding). Mortiana is creepy and can we get a decent portrayal of a complex witch? Are they all supposed to be creepy and pure evil, or simply funny? [I do have a fantasy series in very early development stages that will involve women using magic, so it’s topic that I take interest in]. Azeem is a well developed character, a bit ahead of the English characters in his thinking. Marion and Robin are a bit flat, and I wish they had delved more into the connection between Will and Robin.

There are funny bits, some superb one liners (mainly Alan Rickman’s). There are creepy bits. I don’t believe the Celts were well represented, but that was a standby enemy for storytellers to use for that time period; oh, the murderous Celts, wild animals they are. The Romans built Hadrian’s Wall for a reason. Sean Connery playing King Richard was cool. Though it was odd that Prince John was never mentioned; I guess they wanted to make the story more insular, keep it as trouble within Nottingham. Watching it now, as an adult, having come to age with growing special effects, I say “it’s okay.”

Next Time: Some humor with Men in Tights

Merry Olde England

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Nigel Cawthorne introduces his book Robin Hood: The True History Behind the Legend stating “some historians say that Robin Hood has no place in history, that he is a figure of myth made up by medieval balladeers. However, there are indications that such a person did exist and several real people may have contributed to the legend.”  [Still an academic at heart; I want books from his bibliography.]  I vaguely remember one of my Scottish romance series referring to Robert the Bruce as Robin Hood. The story of Robin Hood has evolved over time as has the character, starting as a simple thief and eventually becoming the “steal from the rich and give to the poor” persona we know and love today. It is set in a historical time period and brings light to the conflict between Saxon peasants and Norman nobles (who invaded the land…the whole William the Conqueror, 1066 business.) Sir Walter Scott draws attention to that conflict in his Ivanhoe [you know you’ve taken Historical Development of the English Language when you understand the bit about dialect in the beginning]. Robin Hood appears in Ivanhoe, briefly.

Alright, enough history, on with the movie!

It stars Errol Flynn, a swashbuckling star of the thirties, Olivia de Havilland (who starred alongside Errol in several of his films, and was in Gone With the Wind) as Maid Marian, and Basil Rathbone (famous as Sherlock Holmes) as Sir Guy of Gisborne. It was directed by Michael Curtiz, who would later direct Casablanca and White Christmas. The opening writing states that the film is “based upon ancient Robin Hood legends” and places the story in 1191.

It opens with word that King Richard, on his way home from the Crusades, has been taken prisoner by Duke Leopold of Austria (that did happen). Prince John seizes control of the throne and taxes the peasant Saxons to collect “ransom” money. He and his henchman, Sir Guy toast to the hope that Richard never returns to England. Meanwhile, in the forest, a peasant, Much, shoots a deer (a real criminal act in that time; sections of land and forests were set aside for the royals to hunt. If anyone shot a deer, they’d be punished severely). Robin of Locksley and his trusty companion Will Scarlett, both in ridiculously bright capes, ride up and save Much from Sir Guy. Indebted, Much willingly follows Robin.

adventures_of_robin_hood_errol_flynn

Robin crashes the Sheriff of Nottingham’s feast for Prince John, stands up as a Saxon lord and argues that the Normans are mistreating their subjects. Lady Marion is in attendance as a royal ward and John attempts to arrange her marriage to Sir Guy. Robin charms John even when calling him a traitor, though the prince has the doors shut and silently orders his guards to attack Robin. Robin fights his way out and escapes, then calls together all the Saxon men who would follow him. Together, they’ll fight for loyalty to King Richard and take back their England. John declares Robin an outlaw. Sir Guy is free to capture and kill the pest.

In the meantime, Robin gathers more men to his cause, fighting Little John on a branch bridge with a staff. He loses, but they all have a good laugh about it. Later, they add Friar Tuck who is a great swordsman. With his band of merry men, garbed all in green and brown, Robin lays a trap for Sir Guy, the Sheriff, and the tax money. They spring it and take the loot to their hideout. Sir Guy and the Sheriff are divested of their fine garments and forced to wear rags. Robin treats Marion as a lady, though she has distain for him at first. Then he shows her the poor families that have been displaced by Sir Guy’s tax collectors. In good faith, Sir Guy and the Sheriff are led out; they must report their failure to John. Marion is also safely returned.

The trio of men: Prince John, the Sheriff, and Sir Guy, led by the Sheriff’s idea, plan an archery tournament as a way to draw out and capture Robin. Maid Marion will be the bait. Robin indeed shows, in disguise, and wins the tournament by his traditional split-the-arrow trick (which was actually performed by a professional archer). He tries to escape at the end but is overpowered. Sir Guy holds a tribunal, really more of a mockery of one. There were no witnesses to speak on Robin’s behalf, so he’s found guilty of all crimes and sentenced to hang. Marion, who has fallen in love with Robin, sends a message through her maid to the merry men. At the public hanging the next morning, they rescue him. That evening, Robin returns to the castle to climb up to Marion’s window. They exchange pleasantries and Marion admits she loves Robin; a few kisses, and Robin steals back out the window. He asked Marion to return to Sherwood with him, but she states that she will do more good watching for treachery amongst John and Sir Guy.

At a local tavern, a group of men are passing through. They briefly speak to a bishop in Prince John’s employ; the bishop overhears one of the men say “sire.” He leaves so he can report to John, which the men suspect. John, upon hearing the news that Richard is back in England, orders his brother to be killed, so he can be the new king. A disgraced knight offers to do the job. Marion is in the background and plans to get news to Robin. But Sir Guy guesses Marion’s loyalty and arrests her. John sentences her to death and Marion’s maid rushes off to get word to Robin.

The next morning, the group of men are riding and surrounded by the merry men. The leader reveals that he is a friend of Richard, so Robin lets him go, inviting him back to their hideout. On the way, the leader, disguised as an abbot, questions Robin on his actions. Robin reveals that he blames Richard for the trouble; his duty was to be home defending his people (historically, Richard barely spent any time in England. He was often on Crusade, or at his lands in France). At the hideout, Will Scarlett brings in Much, who he found injured in the woods. Much relays Marion’s danger and that a knight had orders to kill Richard. He handled the knight, but Richard must be found. The abbot casts off his cloak, revealing himself to be Richard. His other men wear the Templar cross. Robin has an idea.

They join the bishop’s retinue to get into the castle. Once there, the bishop starts the ceremony to crown John by asking him of his loyalty. Richard once more steps forward and a fight breaks out. Robin and Sir Guy duel (Basil was an expert swordsman). Sir Guy is ultimately bested and Robin rescues Marion. Prince John is deposed, Richard decrees that all Normans and Saxons will share the rights of Englishmen. He pardons the men of Sherwood and knights Robin. His first command is for Robin to marry Marion. The couple sneaks off to start their life and happily ever after.

After Disney’s animated adaptation, this would have been the next version of Robin Hood I learned. I also remember being really into swashbuckling films when I was in junior high (and being weird for knowing an actor from the thirties). This adaptation captures the carefree image of Robin; Errol laughs a lot. I feel it stems from a romantic view of history. I can handle the historical inaccuracies in this film a lot better than I handle them in BBC’s Robin Hood series from 2006. I chuckled when Will Scarlett and

1938 maid marion
I will admit, it’s pretty. But try keeping white clean! They used jewels to sparkle, not glitter.

Robin Hood first appear on screen with colorful capes. Maid Marion has a different gown on every scene she’s in (ladies had grand wardrobes, but not that much). Some of the styles are based on period gowns, but not the fabric. And oh goodness, the clashing of colors in the nobles. But, in the 30s and 40s, studios were not worried about being “historically accurate.” It’s like the Romanticism of the Victorian era; “oh, times were simpler then and people were happier.” No, medieval times were filthy and dangerous. (And in regards to BBC’s attempt: they almost did worse with the costumes…I’ll simply mention the hot pink sweater).

The sword fights were excellent, though the style was not exactly what was used in the medieval time; it was adapted more towards a fencing style. But that’s what Errol and Basil were good at. The arrows and the armor: while arrows can fit through the links in chain armor, not like that they don’t. And most men don’t fall over instantly dead from one shot. Again, it’s romanticized. Overall, it’s a fun watch, but not my favorite rendition.

Next Time: Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

“Never Say We Die”

I apologize for the delay in posting, but I had a very busy weekend.  (I did manage to spend an hour or so on Valentine’s Day watching some of my favorite movie and TV show clips and eating a few pieces of delicious chocolate…fangirl through and through am I).  Now, wind in the sails for the next installment:

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End

Port Royal is now completely under the thumb of Lord Cutler Beckett and the East India Company; Beckett has declared martial law. He’s suspended the people’s rights and is persecuting anyone suspected of piracy or any connection to piracy. Mass hangings are underway, including a little boy, who begins singing.

“The king and his men, stole the queen from her bed. And bound her in her bones. The seas be ours, and fight the powers. Where we will, we’ll roam. Yo ho, haul together, hoist the colours high. Heave ho, thieves and beggars, never shall we die.”

Others join in and soon it’s the whole line of pirates. The wind changes and when Beckett is informed of the phenomenon (like he didn’t know, he’s sitting right there. Why his stooge felt it necessary to tell him…) he simply responds “finally.”

Next, we’re in Singapore. Elizabeth is singing the tune now, with different verses. She meets Barbossa, who has scheduled a meeting with Sao Feng. The crew of the Black Pearl sneak beneath Sao Feng’s bathhouse, which acts as his headquarters. Will was to sneak in and steal the charts they needed. Before entering the bathhouse, Elizabeth is forced to remove all her weapons; a great deal considering her slim build and Feng’s stooge takes great pleasure in ordering her to strip to just her shirt. Before Sao Feng, Barbossa informs the pirate lord he requires a ship and a crew. Sao Feng has Will brought out, well, out of the tub of water; he was caught trying to steal the charts; Elizabeth speaks before Will can be killed. Barbossa brings up that the song has been sung, a coin still rings, and the nine pirate lords must convene the Brethren Court. Sao Feng and Barbossa are two of the lords, Jack is a third. They must retrieve Jack from Davy Jones’ Locker. Feng argues that they do not stand a chance against Beckett and the East India Company; Elizabeth calls him a coward. They’re weapons are thrown to them by the crew below and a fight breaks out, complicated by the arrival of the Company. The pirates escape; Will and Sao Feng briefly making a deal; Will needs the Pearl to free his father and is willing to cross Barbossa and Jack for Sao Feng’s help. He gets the chart, and the boat and crew, getting them on their way.

There’s a short scene aboard the Endeavor showing that Norrington has been promoted to Admiral under Beckett; he receives an old friend for his new position: the sword that Will made for his previous promotion. In the background, Governor Swann is signing a slew of documents. Beckett’s displeasure of Davy Jones’ refusal to correctly follows orders leads him to take the chest aboard the Flying Dutchman to keep the captain in line. This is no longer Jones’ world; it’s Beckett’s. “I thought you would have learned that when I ordered you to kill your pet.”

The Pearl‘s crew has ventured into an icy region, attempting to decipher the charts to world’s end; they’re not as accurate as modern maps but they take you more places. The map is made of wheels that you twist, attempting to line up either words or designs or landmarks. There’s a saying about “flash of green.” Gibbs fills the uneducated in; there’s a phenomenon of a flash of green at sunset that signals a soul has returned from the dead. Not comfortingly, Barbossa comments, “it’s not getting to the land of the dead that’s the problem. It’s getting back.”

Will and Elizabeth are not speaking to each other. Elizabeth’s response is that once Jack is back, all will be well. That does not strike confidence in Will, especially about the state of their engagement. Tia Dalma offers advice to Will: “for what we want most, there is a cost that must be paid in the end.” Will has spotted that they are about to go over an edge. “Aye,” Barbossa states, “we’re good and lost now.” Again, not comforting. Will takes charge, ordering the crew to avoid the edge, but it’s too late. They brace for impact and fall.

We hear dialogue from the original Pirates of the Caribbean ride in the blackness between scenes. “Dead men tell no tales” echoes as we’re blinded by the Locker. There are numerous Jack Sparrow doppelgangers board the Pearl. Jack is hallucinating; driven mad by the emptiness of the Locker; all sand, the Pearl cannot sail, there’s not even a breeze. He blames his predicament on the thinking “give a man another chance.” (Not entirely sure who he is thinking of at that point) He washes his hands of the weirdness and swings off the ship, onto the ground. Oh, there’s a crab! Let’s throw it, and when it comes back, let’s lick it, for no good reason. After attempting to pull the Pearl, it begins moving. A whole host of crabs are acting like a wave and carry the Pearl through the dunes to the ocean. Jack gives chase to his ship and as the Pearl arrives at its destination, he’s standing atop the mast like he did when he entered Port Royal (complete with the same strain of music).

At the beach, the Pearl’s crew washes up. They’re surprised to see the Pearl moving and happy to see Jack. But Jack believes they’re all hallucinations. Until Elizabeth speaks up; that breaks him out of it. Then he’s not too keen on letting people who have betrayed him back on the Pearl, including Barbossa, Will, and Elizabeth. Except they are the ones who might have an idea on how to escape the Locker. Barbossa and Jack are back to bickering over the Pearl and Will confronts Elizabeth about her part in how Jack died. She claims that she didn’t have a choice; she had to sacrifice Jack to save them. It was her burden to bear, she couldn’t tell Will. He points out that he carried the burden anyway, he just didn’t know what it was. If Elizabeth makes her choices alone, how can he trust her? He can’t.

The Pearl comes across bodies, then boats of departed souls. Tia explains that they should be in the care of Davy Jones; that was his mission, to ferry the souls from one world to the next. But he has corrupted his mission. Elizabeth spots her father amongst the boats and for a moment, believes they’ve made it back. They haven’t; they’re still in the Locker. Which means her father is dead. At Beckett’s orders, Governor Swann explains. He had begun asking too many questions about the heart. He discovered that if you stab the heart, your heart must take its place and you become the next captain of the Dutchman. Elizabeth desperately tries to bring her father aboard, almost leaving the ship. Will stops her and comforts her, even asking Tia Dalma if there was a way. He’s at peace.

The ship becomes stuck in doldrums; they’ve little water left and if they don’t make it back to the living world soon, they’ll all die and be stuck in the Locker. Jack has had an opportunity to play with the map and comes across a new phrase: “Up is down.” His little hallucinations help him mull the phrase over until he realizes that sunset may mean sundown. If they flip the ship at sundown, down becomes up, meaning sunup. The rest of the crew catches on and a flash of green and it works! Then the five leads all pull guns on each other: Jack points at Elizabeth, who points at Barbossa, behind whom is Gibbs, Barbossa points at Will, and Will points at Jack. Barbossa states that he and Jack need to make for Shipwreck Cove for the Brethren Court. Jack would rather sail the opposite direction. They fire, only for their pistols to click; wet powder. Will comes up with the arrangement that Barbossa and Jack go ashore to re-provision the ship and leave him in charge of the Pearl, temporarily.

On the shores of their refueling island lays the carcass of the Kraken. They also discover one of Sao Feng’s men, dead in the water. Turning around, Sao Feng’s ship is nearing the Pearl. Back aboard, Will has led a mutiny to take control of the Pearl, with an agreement from Sao Feng; he needs it to catch the Flying Dutchman to free his father. Except the pirate lord reneges on his promise. Then Beckett’s men come aboard; Sao Feng had an agreement with them. Basically, at this point, everyone is betraying everyone else for their own goals and not telling anyone else; acting like pirates and whatnot. In the end, Elizabeth agrees to go with Sao Feng, perturbed that Will hadn’t told her about his plan to rescue his father (turnabout is fair play, Miss Swann). Will is put in the brig of the Black Pearl. Jack goes across ships to meet with Beckett aboard the Endeavor.

Beckett threatens to inform Jones of Jack’s return, thereby not squaring his debt with the tentacle fellow. But, if Jack fills in Beckett on the Brethren Court, its members, why the nine pieces of eight, and where they’re meeting, Beckett will keep his mouth shut and ensure Jack’s freedom. Except, Beckett has Jack’s compass, so why would he need Jack? Jack’s response is that Beckett needs an inside man. Then the pirate escapes back to the Pearl and they’re off for Shipwreck Cove. Will eventually escapes the brig and leaves a trail of dead bodies for the Endeavor to follow (they were delayed due to Jack damaging the ship in his escape). Jack is polite enough to not raise the alarm so he can speak to the whelp. Being insightful, Jack notes that Will does not trust Elizabeth; Will divulges that he feels he’s losing the woman he loves. Every step towards his father is a step away from Elizabeth. Ah, Jack has an idea. Let Jack be the one to stab the heart; he becomes immortal. He seems fine with the idea of only stepping on land once every ten years. He proceeds to knock Will overboard, with the compass (by breathing on him, his breath must really stink).

Meanwhile, Sao Feng believes Elizabeth to be the sea goddess Calypso, bound in human form. He agrees with Barbossa that they’re best shot at defeating Beckett is to free Calypso, something only the whole Brethren Court can do. Just as Sao Feng makes a move on Elizabeth, the Flying Dutchman catches up and fires on them. Sao Feng is killed, but manages to pass captaincy on to Elizabeth. Admiral Norrington is in charge of the Dutchman and that evening frees Elizabeth and her crew. He was shocked to see her among the pirates and dismayed to learn of her father’s death. He’s coming to realize he may have chosen the wrong side. While in the brig of the Dutchman, Elizabeth meets Bootstrap Bill, who is becoming more a part of the ship, punishment for helping Will earlier. Bill guesses who Elizabeth is and states that Will cannot free Bill if he wants to be with Elizabeth. When the crew is let out, Bill follows, and as “part of the crew, part of the ship,” he raises the alarm. Norrington cuts the line so Elizabeth can escape and is stabbed by Bill. Jones admires the Admiral’s sword and his crew intend to take the ship, but his heart is still in danger.

Jones is then called to the Endeavor to meet with Beckett, and Will. Will casually informs Jones that Jack is back, spoiling Beckett’s hold on that information; and showing Jones that he can’t trust Beckett. He also states that the Brethren Court intends to free Calypso, which infuriates Jones. He will lead them to Shipwreck Cove in exchange for Jones freeing Bill and Beckett guaranteeing Elizabeth’s safety.

Meanwhile, at Shipwreck Cove, the Brethren Court argues amongst itself. Elizabeth brings the news that Beckett is on his way to wipe out the pirates. She proposes fighting. Another argues they can hide in the Cove and outlast Beckett. Barbossa wants to free Calypso; if they do so, she may grant them boon. Jack points out that Calypso is a woman scorned, whose fury hell hath no, and thus not likely to grant boon to the Court that imprisoned her. He cannot believe he is saying it, but he agrees with Captain Swann; they must fight…to run away. Barbossa points out that an act of war can only be declared by the Pirate King. And the Pirate King is elected by popular vote amongst the Brethren Court; and each captain always votes for themselves. Jack unexpectedly votes for Elizabeth. She commands every seaworthy ship be made ready for war. Jack visits with the Keeper of the Code, Captain Teague; his father (cameo by Keith Richards from The Rolling Stones, and part of Johnny Depp’s inspiration for Jack Sparrow).

Jones visits Tia Dalma aboard the Black Pearl, confirming that she is Calypso and he did help the first Brethren Court is binding her to one human form. He loved her, but after he did his duty for ten years and was able to step back on land, she was not where he left her. But that’s her nature, would he love her if she was anything else? Then Jones corrupted his purpose and that is how he gained the tentacle face. Jones tries to claim that he has no heart, but before he leaves, he whispers “my heart will always belong to you.” Calypso will not have any mercy for the Court; punishment for imprisoning her.

The next morning is a parlay (director Gore Verbinksi provides the electric guitar solo; they were out of time and he was available and able to play) between Barbossa, Elizabeth, and Jack, and Beckett, Jones, and Will. Barbossa’s initial reaction is that Will was the traitor amongst the pirates. Beckett clears that up by revealing Jack the master orchestrator. Elizabeth warns Will that freeing his father is a lost cause; Will still doesn’t give up. Barbossa and Jack exchange words and Will and Jack switch sides. So, Jack is aboard the Dutchman per the overall grand scheme of things, still accompanied by his hallucinations. Over aboard the Pearl, Barbossa has gathered all nine pieces of eight from the pirate lords (they’re not coins, just bits and bobs the lords happened to have on them at the first Court, then passed down to their successor captains). Tia Dalma is bound and he begins the process to free her. Burn the pieces of eight and then say “Calypso, I release you from your human bonds,” as if by a lover. Surprisingly, Ragetti understands better than Barbossa. Tia grows and turns into a tower of crabs that rush overboard.

With Calypso gone and not likely to grant Barbossa’s favor, the pirates doubt they can win. They face an armada, with the Flying Dutchman at the lead. Elizabeth rallies the pirates. No, revenge won’t bring back her father and it’s not worth dying for. But what is worth dying for is the ability to tame the seas by the sweat of their brows and the strength of their backs. The other ships will look to the Pearl to lead them and they will see free men. “Gentlemen, hoist the colours.” Those flags are based on historical pirate flags (the music is once again awesome).

The winds blow and a storm bursts. A maelstrom swirls and the Dutchman and Pearl face off across the whirlpool. Jack escapes the brig on the Dutchman by thinking like the whelp and using leverage to pop the door off. He grabs the chest, then swings about the rigging trying to escape Jones and his crew. Over on the Pearl, Will has made his decision. “Elizabeth, will you marry me?” “I don’t think now’s the best time.” “Now may be the only time!” Elizabeth asks Barbossa to marry them (Will’s confused for a second) and he keeps getting interrupted by attacking sailors, so the couple exchanges their own awe kissvows. Then – the most epic kiss of all time! I gush every time I see it, or hear the music and remember the scene. Now married, Will swings over to the Dutchman, after seeing Jack in trouble. The masts of the two ships tangle. Will gets a hold of the chest, but Bill, not realizing who he’s attacking, stops Will. Elizabeth now swings over and faces Jones. He knocks her down and Will stabs him. But Jones cannot die. He twists the end of the blade sticking out of his chest so Will can’t remove it. He sees the emotions exchanged between Will and Elizabeth; “love, a dreadful bond, yet so easily severed.” Jack stops him, showing that he’s holding Jones’s heart, his broken sword poised over it. In retaliation, Jones stabs Will, ironically with Norrington’s old sword that Will crafted. Bill finally comes to his senses and tackles Jones, giving Jack the chance to position Will to stab the heart. Jones, now dead, falls into the whirlpool.

Barbossa orders the masts shot to save the Pearl. Jack pulls Elizabeth away from Will, the Dutchman crew is approaching, chanting “part of the crew, part of the ship.” They escape the sinking ship and are picked up by the Pearl. But the fight is not over, there’s still the Endeavor to deal with. It advances towards the Pearl, but the Dutchman bursts forth,

flying dutchman captain
Looking very much a proper pirate

decay falling from its hull (the sky is now blue again). Will stands at the helm, bearing a new jagged scar. The Dutchman and Pearl come along either side of the Endeavor, and fire. The ship is reduced to splinters, claiming Beckett, who simply mutters, “it’s just good business.” He understands why both ships turned on him. The armada flees; the pirates have won. They celebrate and throw their hats. Even Jack, though a minute later he sends Gibbs to retrieve it.

The crew of the Black Pearl (with added members Murtogg and Mullory) bid Elizabeth farewell, she is to join her husband on land for one night before he attends to his duties as the new captain of the Flying Dutchman. Barbossa refers to her as Mrs. Turner, a callback to how she introduced herself to him during Curse of the Black Pearl. She has her own call back with Jack, saying it would have never worked out between them, though she sincerely thanks him.

awe beach

I find the scene on the beach between Will and Elizabeth incredibly romantic. Will asks Elizabeth to keep the chest with his heart safe. They share a final kiss and he boards the Dutchman. A flash of green and sunset.

We find Jack strolling along a dock with two women (the two who slapped him last time he was in Tortuga), ready to show them the Black Pearl. But it is once again, gone. Barbossa has sailed off with it, leaving Jack a little dinghy. Barbossa intends to find the Fountain of Youth, but when he unrolls the map, the center part is missing, snatched by Jack. The ending scene, after the credits, is ten years later, a little boy singing A Pirate’s Life for Me, accompanied by his mother, Elizabeth. A flash of green and Will has returned.

pirates premiere
I’m the one wearing pirate garb; because it was a premiere for a Pirates movie. The other ladies dressed as one for a movie premiere in Hollywood.

This was one movie I attended the midnight premiere of, with a couple of my friends. When Will was stabbed, I cried. The friend sitting next to me whispered to our friend sitting next to her that I was crying. Our friend told her to just let me. That was really just the start of the fandom life. I have cried through several episodes of Supernatural, including the recent 300th episode. I feel it’s the mark of a good story and good character development when fans get emotionally attached to characters.

I have seen this movie several times and I still don’t completely understand everyone’s deals; who they made them with and for what. Ultimately, our heroes remain heroic in the end. The bad guy gets his just reward…which was awesome. I do not like Beckett; it is heavily suggested amongst fans that Jack at one point was hired by Beckett to transport goods, which turned out to be slaves. Jack refused and Beckett branded him. I get that Davy Jones and Calypso (who became Tia Dalma) were in love, and I can see that after all that time they still love each other deep down, and that after ten years, Jones returned to wherever and Calypso wasn’t there, but I guess I don’t quite understand why he went completely off the deep end. And if we look at the lyrics of “Hoist the Colours,” we find out that they tell the story of binding Calypso. “The king and his men” = the Pirate King and the Court. “Stole the queen from her bed; and bound her in her bones” = Calypso. As Barbossa claimed: “the seas be ours and fight the powers. Where we will, we’ll roam.”

Still hate the love triangle they played with at the beginning between Will, Elizabeth, and Jack. Will and Elizabeth, I’m rooting for you, but why can you not just talk to each other! Very glad they got back together in the end, my favorite part of the movie. But seriously. While I do prefer this movie to later sequels, I am holding to the view that the original was the best and honestly, no sequels were needed; I think it just complicated matters. However, the action was epic, as was the music and in due course, the story ended satisfyingly.

There are some incredible youtube videos you can check out:
The Piano Guys have a version of the theme they perform, as does Two Cellos. Taylor Davis and David Garrett both play violin versions of the theme. The Hillywood Show does a parody of the movies (they have a slew of other parodies you should check out!)

Fanfic Recommendations:
The biggest one I can give you is mypiratecat1’s works; they were written before the fourth and fifth installments, but give the main characters a happy ending and takes them into their future.

So next time, we’re on to the Robin Hood legend. What are your thoughts on pirate movies? Who’s your favorite character from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise?

“Yo Ho Ho, and a Bottle of Rum”

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest

The middle film in the original trilogy, when Disney decided to expand on the success of the first film. Story wise, it mainly serves to set up the third film (they were filmed back-to-back). There’s great action, another great soundtrack (composed by Hans Zimmer), and the characters are nicely developed. But where Curse of the Black Pearl could stand on its own as a fulfilling story, this one needs At World’s End to tie up loose ends. Bill Nighy (he went on to play Minister Rufus Scrimgeour in Deathly Hallows, and he was the art professor in Doctor Who‘s episode on Vincent Van Gogh) joins the cast as Davy Jones, Stellan Skarsgård (he plays Bill in both Mamma Mia movies and is Dr. Erik Selvig in the MCU) is Bootstrap Bill, Tom Hollander (he appeared alongside Keira Knightley in the 2005 film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice) is Lord Cutler Beckett, and Naomie Harris (Eve Moneypenny in the more recent James Bond films) is Tia Dalma [those two characters barely look like each other…wow].

It opens on a rained-out wedding, Will and Elizabeth’s. Will has been arrested by a new batch of British soldiers for his actions in freeing Jack Sparrow. Lord Cutler Beckett is in command and also has a warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest, as well as James Norrington. Norrington resigned his post and is no longer at Port Royal. With our stars already in trouble, we cut to the Black Pearl, waiting outside some sort of prison. Coffins are being thrown into the ocean; a bird lands on one, then is shot off. A hand emerges, followed by Jack. Once aboard the Pearl again, he delivers his treasure, a drawing of a key. The crew is not initially impressed; it’s been some time since they’d done honest pirating and they want a more shiny reward. But Jack talks them around, though the crew also notices he’s acting stranger; for instance, his compass isn’t working.

Back in Port Royal, Beckett has a proposition for Will; in exchange for Jack’s compass, Beckett will grant the man letters of mark, pardoning him and allowing him to survive as a privateer for England. Cutting back to the Pearl, Jack ventures into the hold for some more rum and discovers an old friend: Bootstrap Bill, covered in barnacles. Bill congratulates Jack on getting the Pearl back; Jack informs him that his son, young William, helped in that matter. Bill is dismayed that Will has turned to a life of piracy, but continues with his message: time’s up for Jack. Davy Jones is calling in his debt. He passes on the Black Spot to Jack. Jack proceeds to wake the rest of the crew and informs them to head towards land.

Will visits his betrothed in prison and explains Beckett’s deal. Governor Swann doesn’t trust Jack to help Will and Elizabeth and wants to pursue other courses of action. There’s a funny bit when the couple speaks to each other, Elizabeth’s father standing only a few feet away and Elizabeth informs her fiancé “if it weren’t for these bars, I’d have you already,” startling her father. He breaks a light similar to Will had broken in his home in the previous film. Governor Swann later sneaks Elizabeth out of prison, intending to put her on a ship bound for England. His only concern is his daughter; he’ll help Will as best he can, but knows that the lad will most certainly hang and all the better for Elizabeth to leave Port Royal. Doesn’t seem like he completely approves of his future son-in-law. Their plan is ruined when Beckett’s man kills the friendly captain. Elizabeth snuck out of the carriage in the commotion and holds a pistol to Beckett. She tries to warn him of the cursed Aztec gold, but “there’s more than one chest of value in these waters,” Beckett informs her. She takes the letters, but Beckett warns her he will still want Jack’s compass.

elizabeth vs beckett

Will is eventually led to an island where the Pearl sits on the beach. He’s captured and taken before the natives’ chief: Jack. Jack speaks nonsense words with the natives and finally whispers “Save me” to Will, despite Will stating that he needs Jack’s help to save Elizabeth. Once Will is put with the rest of the crew in hanging bone cages, Gibbs informs him that while the natives view Jack as their chief and thus a god, there is a ceremony to free the god from his human form; the fire they’re building is for that purpose. Will takes charge; they must escape Jack plays along, insisting on more wood and when the opportune moment comes, he runs away. He’s caught and gotten ready for the fire. But the crew has been caught climbing the cliff (Mythbusters tested whether that could be done; the cage could not be swung the way its shown in the movie, but a crew can climb up a wall). Jack has another chance to escape. He joins his crew back at the Pearl; Will first insisted they couldn’t leave without Jack, but upon seeing the whole village of natives chasing the man, he quips “time to go.” They get safely away.

To rescue Elizabeth, Jack states they need to go upriver. They visit Tia Dalma, who informs Will “you have a touch of destiny about you.” To Jack, she cackles, “Jack Sparrow does not know what he wants.” When Will asks about the key, which Jack has told him ultimately leads to a way to save Elizabeth, Tia Dalma tells the crew about Davy Jones. He fell in love, but eventually, the love was too painful, so he cut out his own heart and buried it in a chest. The key unlocks that chest. She reveals Jack’s Black Spot, showing that Jones is after Jack. Since Jones cannot step on dry land except once every ten years, land is where they will be safe, so they will carry land with them. She gives Jack a jar of dirt. Then she casts for the location of the Flying Dutchman.

They come upon a shipwreck. Jack sends Will over, the lad’s plan is simple enough, cut down any in his path to the key. Oh, and if Will needs, tell them that Jack Sparrow sent him to settle his debt. Will eventually comes before Davy Jones as he offers the dying sailors from the other ship the chance to forestall judgment day by serving one hundred years on his ship: “do you fear death?” When Jones comes to Will, he asks his purpose. Will says what Jack told him. The captain visits the pirate aboard the Pearl. Their deal was Jack got to be captain for thirteen years; time’s up. Now Jack is to serve aboard the Dutchman for a hundred years. Jack wishes to further postpone that trip and haggles for how many souls is his worth. Answer, one hundred. Jones will keep Will for the time being. After their encounter, Jack orders Gibbs to head for Tortuga.

Elizabeth has apparently snuck aboard another ship, changed into men’s clothing and the crew finds her wedding dress. They first think it’s a sign from a spirit. Elizabeth comes up with the plan to use that notion to her advantage and direct the ship to Tortuga. There, Norrington comes forward under the guise to join Jack’s crew. Really, he wants revenge for the pirate ruining his life; his clothes are filthy, he’s drunk, he lost his ship, his crew, his position, everything. So those two men start a riot in the tavern. Elizabeth joins in and eventually knocks Norrington out when he becomes too annoying. She then tracks down Jack and asks about Will. Jack spins her the tale that in order to save Will, she needs to find the chest, revealing that his compass “points to the thing you want most in this world.” (This is where the line from the new Disney intro “we have our heading!” comes from)

Aboard the Dutchman there is confusion over an order for “Mr. Turner;” both Will and Bill respond and that confusion lets a canon drop on deck. Five lashes are issued to Will. Bill steps in to take the punishment. Davy Jones inquires why he would take the punishment; Bill responds “he’s my son.” Jones finds it poetically cruel and forces Bill to whip is own son’s back. Later, Will retorts he doesn’t need his father’s help, though Bill is urging Will to get off the ship. Will has sworn no oath to Jones and is not bound to the ship. Will tells him about his search for the Dead Man’s Chest, which a veteran crewmember (who is almost completely one with the ship) informs them don’t stab the heart. The Dutchman needs a living heart, or there will be no captain. We’re still left a little confused. But Will comes up with a plan; he challenges Davy Jones to the game Liar’s Dice. He wagers a lifetime of service in exchange for the key, which makes Jones reveal it’s hidden in his tentacle face. Bill jumps into the game and in the end throws it so his son will remain free. That evening, after Jones falls asleep at his organ, Will sneaks in and steals the key. Bill has a boat waiting for him and gives his son a knife. Will takes it with the promise that he will find some way to free his father; he won’t abandon him. [I think that’s a bit of a dig at Bill abandoning Will and his mother years ago]

Back in Port Royal, Beckett meets with Governor Swann. He warns the man that he has ships in pursuit of Jack, Will, and now Elizabeth. There could easily be a battle and the father can only imagine what will happen to his daughter. In exchange for possibly saving Elizabeth, Beckett wants Swann’s authority as governor, his influence in London, and ultimately, his loyalty.

 

dmc will
Gotta say, Will looks more like a pirate this time around (and I like it)

Will manages to hitch a ride on another ship, the same one Elizabeth used to get to Tortuga; he recognizes her wedding dress. But the ship seems to have struck a reef. That’s how the other ship was caught by the Dutchman. Davy Jones has discovered Will’s deception and forces Bill to watch as the Dutchman’s crew calls the Kraken and sends it to the other ship. Will does escape (at one point, sliding down a sail with a knife to slow his descent: Mythbusters also tested this but found that it didn’t work due to the ribbing in the sail; my argument with their test, the ribbing was done in a different direction in the movie, vertical compared to horizontal), briefly catching his breath on a piece of driftwood (a callback to his first appearance in the previous film), before eventually hiding in the front of the Dutchman. Jones orders for them to make for his chest, attempting to beat Sparrow.

In the meantime, Norrington overhears Elizabeth, Jack, and Gibbs discussing the letters of mark. Gibbs comments that if the East India Company controls the heart, they’ll control the seas, which is bad for every pirate. Norrington (I’m not sure why he does this aside from he’s still mad that Elizabeth chose Will over him) insinuates that Elizabeth is attracted to Jack. She’s appalled. Later, Jack notes that they are similar people, he and Elizabeth. She retorts that Jack lacks a sense of honor, decency, a moral center, and personal hygiene. Jack responds that Elizabeth will come over to his side, of piracy, because she’ll want the freedom. Elizabeth counters that Jack will want to be a good man; he’ll want the reward. They get very close to one another, almost seducing the other. They’re interrupted by coming upon the island.

Jack, Elizabeth, and Norrington go ashore to dig up the chest. Will arrives just as the chest is found, Elizabeth happily embraces and kisses her fiancé. He has to thank Jack for his reunion with his father aboard the Dutchman. Elizabeth realizes that everything Jack told her was a lie. Jack can’t let Will stab the heart, freeing Bill, because then who will call off the Kraken? He holds his sword to Will, Will returns the favor, and Norrington pulls out his sword; he can’t let Will stab the heart because he needs to deliver the chest to Beckett to get his life back. So, all three begin dueling each other. Ragetti and Pintel (the pirate comedic duo) steal the chest, Elizabeth goes after them and they’re soon fighting the crew of the Dutchman (with only two swords between the three of them; Will has Elizabeth’s). The trio of men end up at an old church with a water wheel attached, all fighting over the key. The duel takes them aboard the wheel once it’s broken away. It’s a great bit of choreography and I’m sure not easy to film.

wheel duel

In the end, Jack is able to open the chest and takes the heart and stuffs it down his shirt. When he gets back to the rowboat, he puts it in the jar of dirt. Norrington finds the letters, and spots the mess with the dirt. When Will finds the chest, Jack knocks him out to prevent him from opening it. Cornered by the Dutchman‘s crew, Norrington offers to take the chest and distract them so the others can get away. He eventually drops the chest, letting the crew take it.

Aboard the Pearl, Jack taunts Davy Jones: “I’ve got a jar of dirt! And guess what’s inside it!” [there’s another hilarious remix of this] Well, Jones orders his crew to open fire on the Pearl, send it back to the depths. The Pearl turns and flees; against the wind, the Dutchman is faster which is how it traps its victims, but with the wind, the Pearl has the advantage. Will wants to turn and fight and free his father. Jack smirks that it’s better to negotiate. When the ship shudders, his jar of dirt falls and breaks. “Where’s the thump thump?” The heart is gone. Jones lets the Pearl take the lead; he has his crew call up the Kraken. Will has seen this tactic before and takes charge. They’ll load the gunpowder…and rum, into the cargo net. He hands a rifle to Elizabeth, she better not miss [I forgot this part of the movie, which is sad, cause it’s awesome!].

Meanwhile, Jack has taken the only boat and is planning on escaping. But he catches sight of the plight of his ship and crew and checks his compass. Elizabeth spots him and mutters “Coward.” There’s a bit of chaos and confusion when the net is finally lifted and Will manages to catch his foot in the ropes. Elizabeth loses hold of the gun for a moment when a tentacle grabs her; Pintel and Ragetti save her. When she finds it, a boot is on it: Jack. He takes the rifle and shoots just as Will drops. The tentacles of the Kraken are wrapped around the barrels and they’re blown. Except they haven’t killed the Kraken, they’ve only made it angry. Jack gives the order to abandon ship. Elizabeth stops to thank Jack and kisses him (Will sees…and apparently that bit was not in Orlando’s script so they got a more genuine reaction). What Will doesn’t see is Elizabeth chain Jack to the mast. She claims to the six other survivors that Jack elected to stay behind. Jack frees himself just as the mouth of the Kraken comes over the side. He gets a whole bunch of spit shot at him, including his hat. Striking a hero pose, he snarks “Hello, beastie,” and is devoured.

Jones isn’t as pleased as he thought he would be with Jack’s demise. He checks the chest and finds it empty. He curses Sparrow. Actually, Norrington has the heart and delivers it to Beckett.

The crew of the Pearl hold a memorial for Jack at Tia Dalma’s shack. Will, seeing how upset Elizabeth is, and not completely understanding why, offers to try to get Jack back. Tia asks them how far are they willing to go? Will they brave the haunted and weird shores at world’s end? [title dropping the next movie] They all agree. So, they’ll need a captain who knows those waters. Boots come down the stairs…Barbossa is back. (The cast wasn’t aware it was Barbossa returning, so they’re surprise was genuine)

Overall, I still find this movie better than the fourth and fifth installments. As stated previously, I liked the character development. I still really can’t stand Jack (a bit too dishonest), but I can appreciate that they are showing different sides of him and showing a more genuine heroic streak. Norrington is still a bit of a jerk; I hate Beckett. He wants power for power’s sake and will use any means to obtain it. It was insinuated that he’s had a run in with Jack before and is most likely the one responsible for branding Jack as a pirate and possibly the reason Jack had to get the Pearl back in the first place, thus causing his deal with Jones.

I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth. What I dislike the most about this film is the ridiculous love triangle they felt inclined to include. It was shown that Elizabeth like Will from a young age, putting aside social barriers to befriend him and she only made the deal with Norrington in the first film to save Will. The whole flirting bit aboard the Pearl between Jack and Elizabeth is nonsense. Yes, it points out that underneath it all, Elizabeth has a pirate streak and Jack has a good streak and Jack is more likely to flirt with a woman that speak honestly. But what bugs me the most is how it hurts Will. A man who always tries to do the right thing. He finds out his long-lost and believed dead father is actually alive and bond in service aboard the Flying Dutchman; he’s angry for a little bit, but still decides to save his father, rather than leave him to his fate. While he does view Jack as a friend on occasion, the main reason he goes after the pirate is to save Elizabeth. I still like the fact that Elizabeth will join in the fight for her freedom, and Will’s. But she doesn’t tell Will what she did when the Pearl was taken and lets her fiancé stew.

Now, the action was amazing. They were ingenious in how the Pearl fought the Kraken, throwing in nice dramatic moments. The duel on the wheel was incredible and even just having a three-way duel was cool; two people sometimes joining to fight one, or all hacking away at each other individually. The featured cellist in the soundtrack was superb; a cello brings such warmth and emotion to a piece. The Kraken’s theme echoes the sense of something stalking the hero, waiting for the right moment to strike, then wreaking terrible destruction. Very cool to bring in the organ in such a manner, not only having it play a mournful tune, but also underneath the attack.

We’ll finish up next time with At World’s End