Monday, 17 December 2007

Strange Geography

My confusion about why Notingham Castle and Shrewsburry Abbey both look the same got me thinking about the weird geography seen in other television programmes and films. Strangely I can stay with the theme of Robin Hood for this post, as the geography in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves is exceedingly strange.

Now I know that during the 12th century people were more accustomed to long walks to get places than we are today but even so the distances covered in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves are just silly. Lets start with Robin's journey home at the beginning of the film. We see three scenes of his journey to Loxley after having escaped prison. Firstly he jumps out of a boat onto a fairly recognisable beach. Next he battles Guy of Gisbourne around a solitary sycamore tree, and then finally he arrives at his fathers derelict castle.

As they set off from the beach Robin mentions that they will be eating with his father by nightfall, so obviously the journey to Loxley can't be very far. Wrong. If you wanted to drive from the beach to the sycamore tree and on to the castle seen in the film, then Google Maps suggests that it will take you about 13 hours to drive the approximately 734 miles! The first scene is obviously the Seven Sisters at Dover on the South East coast of England. The scene with the tree is Sycamore Gap on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, and the castle is actually Old Wardour Castle in Wiltshire. Even if you didn't want to go via Hadrian's Wall it is still approximately 154 miles from the beech to the castle -- not a walk you are going to manage in a single day, no matter how fit you may be!

The silly geography doesn't stop with just that first 734 mile afternoon stroll. There are many more examples in the film.

For instance, the ford where Robin fights Little John is at Aysgarth Falls in North Yorkshire and about 250 miles from Burnham Beeches in Buckinghamshire where they eventually build their tree top village, although they seem to get there quite quickly after the fight.

All I can think is that as the film was aimed at an international market the director went for nice scenery rather than trying to keep things believable for those of us who know anything about the layout of England.

My Rating: 5 Stars Even with it's strange sense of geography Robin Hood Prince of Thieves is still worth watching for the nice English scenery and Alan Rickman's fantastic portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham, although Kevin Costner's attempt at an English accent leaves a lot to be desired.

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