Category Archives: Robin Hood

King Richard returns

I don’t have a 4k HD t.v., but I found a lovely pic of Rusty looking ultra regal in 4k HD from Ridley Scott’s 2010 Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.

This poem, based on the 47th Psalm, is about the beginning of the film, in a pivotal scene when Eleanor of Aquitaine and her son, Prince John, come to greet Rusty and his trusty Crusader, King Richard, on their long-awaited return to England.

No spoilers this time, folks. (But there is some slant rhyme. Like I said, I’ve been experimenting.)

All peoples of England raise the hue and cry,
shout out to King Richard with bluster and pride.
For the Lionheart of the Crusades turns home,
our great King, rich in conquests, takes back his throne.
He crushed the infidels in the Holy Land
and overthrew the rich fortresses of France.
He marked out for England a great destiny,
the pride of our troops in our hour of need.
King Richard arrives – strike up a great fanfare,
the sound of our trumpets should ring him ashore.
Assemble in state to receive your true King,
let the Lionheart gaze on a joyous throng.
For England has long been in feckless John’s hands,
and the land lying fallow without our men.
Richard combined every fief in a nation,
united behind his Crusade and his crown.
The nobles of London all gather and bow;
by bonds that run deeper than blood, they are bound.
For God’s are the kingdom’s Crusader’s and knights.
Much exalted the man who long shared their tents.

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Filed under Directing, Dream Ensemble, Poetry, Robin Hood, Roll Credits

Ben Wade

I have to confess, over the course of the first few months of this creative writing exercise I’ve given myself (adapting the Book of Psalms to fan poetry), I’ve been really itching to give James Mangold’s 3:10 to Yuma a go.

This is one of my favorite movies, with two of my favorite actors going toe to toe, and I even found out the name of the handsome black horse Russell rides in this movie! That’s Ribbon. Ribbon’s my favorite, so far, out of all the horses Russell has ridden in the movies. (Although I do think it’s super cool that Rusty and George, who both turned heads in Gladiator, made starring appearances in Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood, too!)

Based on the 36th Psalm, this one is naturally in the voice of Ben Wade.

I hear the voice of crime speak to the wicked
as it speaks to me with the weight of my heart:
“There is no fear of God or holy justice
upon the world that stands before my eyes.”
The sparkle in the eyes of crime seduced me
by feeding off my sin – hatred is a fuel.
I learned the trade of mischief and deception,
and laid aside all other trades and virtues.
Getaways and murders can be planned a-bed,
but the leader of a gang must cut a stance,
only evil itself escapes his contempt.
I can be awed by the heavens – this kindness
is a kind of faithfulness to that night sky.
God’s justice lights like sunshine on bare mountains,
his judgment opens like a naked defile,
that man and beast escape by singular grace.
The farthest hawk pays tribute to this kindness,
and I but shelter in his soaring shadow.
I take my fill from the fare of providence,
and from wild streams and passing delights drink up.
For I will not spurn to take the best from life.
I can take pleasure in acts of kindness, too.
Draw down your mercy on those who know your law,
and save your justice for the gates of hell.
Let no man’s pride in this life overtake mine,
nor the hand of the wicked stay my hand.
There lie the murderers I led to this death.
They fell where they stood – they did not strike in time.

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Filed under 3:10 to Yuma, Acting, Corruption, Dream Ensemble, Gladiator, Poetry, Robin Hood

Robin Hood

In Ridley Scott’s 2010 take on the Robin Hood legend, a bit of a history lesson sneaks in the back door with the signing of a precursor to the Magna Carta by King John (played with venomous dash and charm by Oscar Isaac), amply urged on by William Hurt’s William Marshall and Russell Crowe’s Robin Longstride, together with the assembled and much-put-upon nobility of England.

This might feel far-fetched to audiences who only know of one Magna Carta, the one signed by King John’s son and heir many years after the action of the film takes place. But in fact, several precursor documents with the same intent as the Magna Carta were signed by King John under duress at several junctures much like the one dramatized in the film. He reneged on every agreement, but the nobles persevered until they had enough leverage to make the agreement binding on their sovereign.

This poem, based on the 35th Psalm, is in William Marshall’s voice addressed to King John at one of these junctures, when King John’s tax collectors have run amok on behalf of their French overlords (he hired French mercenaries to collect the exorbitant tax from nobles who claimed they could not pay). England faces invasion, and without the nobles’ support, King John cannot hope to repel the French fleet converging on Dover cliffs.

Take up arms, my Lord, against these invaders,
fight those who fight against England and your crown.
Unsheath the sword and nock the arrow – take aim
against these marauders, these wolves in the fold.
Let those who betrayed you be shamed and disgraced,
who used your tax as cover to raid the north.
Let them beat a retreat as they come ashore,
who plot the pillage of English kine and corn.
Let them scatter like chaff before the west wind,
with the longbow harrying their every step.
May they lose their footing in darkness and drown,
with the longbow raining murder over all.
For unprovoked they made designs on your crown,
unprovoked, they set out to sack your estate.
Let us spring our own trap – catch them unawares,
and turn the kernel of their plans against them.
They schemed to divide us – together, we win.
And I celebrate this day to see my King
moved to acknowledge his duties to the crown.
I feel this sea change for England in my bones.
“Majesty, who can supplant you? As our King,
only you can secure the weak against greed
and protect your subjects from their despoilers.”
Deep in your counsel, false witnesses snared you,
painting your nobles as rebels, usurpers.
This is how Geoffry repays your constant trust –
nursed at the same breast, he seeks your very life.
And I, when your kingdom ailed, went in hiding
and roused your people to remember their rights.
May my service to England furnish you well.
As for a friend, I mourned your missteps, waiting
for a chance to set you back on a straight path,
wandering bent and hooded, like a pilgrim.
Yet when your people went in mourning, they struck,
in your name they ravaged the north of England,
like mercenaries they robbed us for the tax.
They tore open our eyes to the awful truth.
With contempt they remarked in their own language
what easy prey we were to the wolves in sheep’s clothes.
Majesty, how long will this go on? We sue
because it is your duty to protect us,
and ours to rise, until lambs become lions.
I shall acclaim you before this gathering,
this great assembly looks to you to lead us.
Will you suffer our enemies to sack us,
will you stand by while the French rob us and leer?
For this is an army of invasion – peace
is an empty pledge, theirs were words of deceit.
Already they throw back their heads in laughter.
They crow, “Hurrah! All England’s for the taking!”
You, my Lord, have seen this – do not stand idle.
Majesty, do not banish me from your court,
deprive me of my duty to my country.
Judge my words by their justice, as England’s King
and let those invaders not gloat over all.
Do not allow our weakness to swell their hearts,
as they congratulate themselves for our faults.
Let them not say to their masters, “We have won.”
Let the French flee with their tails between their legs;
they rejoiced prematurely to do us harm.
Let us humiliate France for her envy,
that France sought to conquer fair England today.
Hear how your people shout and cheer and praise you,
who desire only justice from their King.
And may they always remember this fine day
by the works of their monarch, whose laws are just,
a King who safeguards his people’s well-being,
so their love will follow you into battle,
and their songs will be your ornament of praise.

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Filed under Acting, Corruption, Poetry, Robin Hood

How do lambs become lions?

How can corporations be persons? Public Citizen is one of many grassroots organizations saying they can’t and proposing constitutional amendments to shut down SuperPACs. But their proposed amendments are modest restrictions on corporate speech, with an unmitigated loophole for corporations peddling news or information. Any corporation or political machine with privacy protection for all revenues in and the freedom to spend them on votes by any means, direct on indirect, should logically have a special attraction for the money laundering business, increasing the political clout of organized crime. First amendment protections for cash and corporations respectively invite corruption if they aren’t withdrawn absolutely. So why do constitutional law experts doubt simpler amendments specifying “money is not speech” and “corporations are not people” will work?

Corporations have long-standing rights to enter into legally binding contracts as individuals and bear liabilities as individuals, and the syllogism corporations:individuals :: people:individuals opened the door to First Amendment protections for corporate speech on logical grounds. Word play opened the door to reform of the political economy, but it is shaded. Thus far corporate personhood is due First Amendment rights, but not privacy protections against Freedom of Information Act requests. It is not a literal reversal and a literal reaction would have a muddled future in the courts, because contract law is indispensible and would trump the intent of the reform so completely it could be gutted in the interpretation.

The court’s intentions have hardly been discussed, their actions have so clearly corrupted our politics that popular opinion has no justification for them. Why did the court dare confront us with this unpopular new species of political machine? Perhaps there was more to it than deliberately fomenting SuperPAC politics. Ours is an economy driven by consumerism, and consumers are motivated to spend beyond their needs by aggressive marketing of consumer goods, using disinformation, bombardment, seduction and interactive marketing that relies on corporations’ freedom to gather personal information on consumers. Protecting these tools of the trade keeps our market attractive, and our country trades more on its capacity for consumption than on its capacity for production these days. What seems radical is the notion that corporations have the right to freely influence public policy through spending on political speech, and that this spending need not be reported – not even shareholders have the right to demand information about it. Can these reforms be reversed without bumping up against the economic imperatives of information exchange in the service of consumerism?

On the other hand, I’ve been looking at some textbooks on corruption that favor the conventional wisdom that the court’s attitude is permissive of corruption. Early economic analyses of corrupt practices often harped on this theme: “There are very few things worse for a country than having a corrupt, obtrusive bureaucracy, and one of them is having an honest, obtrusive bureaucracy.” Conservative thinking on economic policy is fairly permissive of corruption per se. Now look at our constitution in this light: “presidential systems are more corrupt, on balance, than parliamentary democracies and that proportional representation systems are more corrupt than first-past-the-post systems. The worst systems combine strong presidents with proportional representation under which a powerful executive can negotiate with a few powerful party leaders to share the spoils of office” (Susan Rose-Ackerman, International Handbook on the Economics of Corruption, 2006).

Steven Rosenfeld has an insightful article on the amendments that have been proposed thus far, their strengths and weaknesses. There is more to this than word play, and as he says, less discussion of ends and means than we will need to have to effectively reverse these reforms.

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Filed under Economics, False controversies, Robin Hood