"Robin Hood – The Movie" exhibition at Nottingham Castle





Much has been written about Ridley Scott’s new Robin Hood: Andrew O’Hagan says it “has little going for it” (London Evening Standard); Tom Huddleston believes the $130m blockbuster to be an “overblown disaster” (Time Out); and Joe Morgenstern points out that the 140-minute film is an “absence of fun” (Wall Street Journal). “When you call a movie ‘Robin Hood,’ you set up expectations,” Kenneth Turan, the Los Angeles Times film critic, writes. Indeed, the same could be said for its showpiece exhibition: Robin Hood – The Movie. And yet, it too, has little going for it given that it is an overblown disaster and one with an absence of fun.

The official movie exhibition has been put together especially for Nottingham Castle by the film’s set designer, Sonja Klaus, and features costumes, props and behind the scene materials. Scott was also involved in the selection of which items would be displayed. Its uniqueness, however, does not make up for the lack of exhibits. Granted, visitors will see Russell Crowe’s khaki-coloured outlaw attire and suede cloak and Cate Blanchett’s demure, wasp-waist canvas corset. But there is little in the way of maps of Nottingham or the Holy Land, religious icons or exclusive screen shots.

Given its setting, though you would expect to be transported into the world of Robin Hood. After all, film director Scott said: “The exhibition will give visitors the opportunity to really get up close and personal with the film and feel part of the production itself, along with understanding the importance of the surroundings we filmed it in.” Yet visitors to the exhibition will not feel “part of the production”. This is not to say that a visit to Nottingham Castle will be a wasted one, however, since the “importance of the surroundings” provides the story behind the legend.

The castle today is a vibrant museum and art gallery which attracts local, national and international visitors. Visual art exhibitions in the galleries change throughout the year as part of a lively programme of activities. Exhibitions can focus on individual artists, ideas and issues. They often include historic and contemporary collection pieces and significant loans from galleries such as the Tate and the British Museum. It is a permanent one, the Story of Nottingham, though, which justifies the admission fee.

Beginning with the story of Snotingham, as it was then called, you will be taken through fifteen centuries of history to discover how Nottingham developed to become the large, thriving city that it is today. All of this is enhanced by a multi-media presentation that recreates life and turmoil within the castle from its hey-day to the present. A superb model of the castle as it was in around the year 1500 also gives you a strong image of this once magnificent Royal residence. And of course the story of Nottingham’s legendary hero Robin Hood is not neglected.

A cinema ticket is £7.50. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is available for less than half that in HMV and is worth every penny seeing as Kevin Costner does not sound like “an Ulsterman trying to imitate John Lennon” (Anthony Lane on Crowe in the New Yorker). My advice, then, would be to visit Nottingham Castle and purchase a copy of Kevin Reynolds’ 1991 version before heading back to the train/bus station.

Robin Hood – The Movie runs until 31 October 2010. Nottingham Castle is open Tuesday – Sunday 10am - 4pm (last admission 3.30pm).



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