When you’re asked to retell a story told dozens of times before how do you make it feel fresh and original?
That was the task Otto Bathurst faced when bringing to life Robin Hood once more in a brand new cinematic adventure.
“We really wanted to drag Robin Hood into the 21st Century,” the director tells Yahoo Movies UK. “The story is more relevant than ever; religion is more oppressive than ever before, governments are more corrupt, there’s more greed, more abuse going on in the world, so now we need more Robin Hoods and Maid Marians too for that matter.”
Taron Egerton was cast as the titular hero, having whet his action hero whistle in the Kingsman franchise, with Eve Hewson beating several up and coming actors to the role of Maid Marian.
Their characterisations are both faithful and different to the original tale – she’s the commoner activist, he’s the cavalier lord of the manor – while Jamie Foxx’s John is an amalgamation of Little John and the black Moor sidekick first introduced to the Robin Hood stories in the TV series Robin of Sherwood.
The idea that a Christian and Muslim fighting during the Crusades, then teaming up, seems highly unlikely but nothing about this film is meant to be that factual.
“There’s no historical accuracy in the movie at all and that was conscious,” Bathurst explains. “We’re creating a metaphor, a spectacle, a fantastical thrilling world you’re thrown into.”
That’s why the film looks more like The Hunger Games than 12th Century Britain with machine stitched costumes and machinery that might not have been available until after the Industrial Revolution.
There’s also an absence of East Midlands or Yorkshire accents but the director explains that that’s because he wanted Nottingham to feel more international than local.
“Yes it is set in Nottingham, but Nottingham didn’t look like that and we wanted it to be feel big, international, also to be anachronistic and irreverent,” he says. “Yes they might pick holes in the accent but we painted Nottingham as this cultural metropolis.
“If you start a revolution in a small town in the North of England, so what? Whereas if you start it in this thriving metropolis which is seen as the cultural, spiritual and political capital of the country then the ripples of that revolution are going to be a bigger thing.”
Robin Hood is in cinemas now