Government Critique in Medieval Cinema
The portraits of the ruling kings in medieval England had films than more negative than positive. These films tend to celebrate adventure, power, outlaws and opponents of central power. In reality, the films main agenda seemed to be to show the society and the world at large how leadership and power were misused and corrupted in those earlier years. It is like the movies wanted to put a message across that meant what was going at that time was nothing compared to what took place in earlier years.
As one follows all of the four movies, there are things that seem to appear commonly. This means that some of the characters and activities were passed on from generation to generation. The film by Robin Hood is actually known as “The Adventures of Robin Hood”. The word “adventure, clarifies that the film would be more captivating if it were based on his adventures more than his life or another suitable title which of course were a basket full to choose from.
If most viewers were asked, especially those who viewed the films in those years, they actually went to watch the films due to the adventures, the way the king used or misused the power, the drama that this royal family had, the presence of a villain and a victim, the way the poor and the victims won at the end (most of the times), etc. all these in one film.
These films were some kind of a reflection of what was going on then though indirectly. England was ruled by kings and queens (and is still ruled now) and so some of the characters in those past kings were still in the present leader. Some unfair dealings like corruption, injustice, poverty, misuse of power and others were still present and so that was the right time for the production of such films.
Attitudes towards the government
Judging from the four films, Becket, The Lion in Winter, The Adventures of Robin Hood And The Vikings, and the attitude towards the government was very negative. As mentioned earlier, if one carefully follows these films, there are certain characters or habits that seem to appear in all of the four films. These characters mostly are with the kings or the leaders who are supposed to show the rest of the people the way and direction.
In the film “Becket”, King Henry II seems to have a character that did not seem to have very many kings or even people. He was a homosexual. This is brought out by his great love for his youthful friend Becket. As one continues watching the film, they notice that this love is more than one’s love towards a friend. He also shows that he does not have much love towards women and especially the wife. He rudely speaks to her and does not feel guilty about it.
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The films also bring about Corruption. At some point, the four films show corruption in the kingdom. In Becket, King Henry II uses his power to give his friend Becket positions even in the church. The priests and church leaders are also seen as corrupt as the fight for power and leadership with the king (though indirectly). In “The Lion in winter”, corruption is shown as the royal family uses its position and power to get their way in things. In “The Adventures of Robin Hood” it is seen when King Richard also uses his power to get his way and oppress the poor and weak. Wealth means power and poverty mean slavery. The film by the name “The Vikings” is also not left out as the same royal families use their power to get their way done.
Corruption and misuse of power almost go hand in hand. It is clearly seen that the kings and the leaders especially those of high influence use their power to get their selfish gains. King Henry uses his powers to make his friend climb up the leadership ladder, moving from one great position to another. This is done in order to help him win the love of Becket. On the other hand, Becket is not interested in the king in that sexual manner but instead, uses his power by turning against the king. King Richard and King Ragnar are also seen to use their powers selfishly. King Ragnar is seen to kill a king and then goes ahead and rapes the wife. King Henry II is also seen using his powers to have sex with a peasant girl. Some of the victims give in to these leaders demands simply because they are peasants and do not have much power and they are also afraid of the leaders.
It is also seen that there is oppression of the peasants, the weak and the needy. As mentioned, before, King Henry II Sleeps rapes a peasant girl just for his own selfish gain and simply because the girl in question was a peasant. We have clearly seen that he has no interest in women and even treats them as dirt. King Richard has been known to put rules and laws that would greatly affect the peasants but only favor the wealthy. This was a reflection of what was taking place at that particular time when these films were aired. In simple terms, they were trying to point out and condemn the evil in the society and even what would be the consequences if such kind of treatment and behavior continued.
These films have gone ahead and tried to point out each and every evil that seemed to occur during the concerned king”s reign. There was also a lot of adultery and other social immorality, especially in the royal families. King Henry the second had a wife but he still wants ahead and slept with the peasant girl. King Richard was also known for his love of women despite the fact that he had a wife. He was known for the constant parties he had and beauty pageants. All this was done for the love of women. The other kings were also involved in adultery in one way or another which was one of the reasons the films were aired publicly.
As one continues watching these films, one will notice that there is some kind of a “hero” in the films. These are the people who seem to be good and not as corrupted as the kings and the other leaders. They seem to save the day and are mostly liked by the peasants and hated by the wealthy. In the film “Becket”, one of the people may look at Becket as some kind of a hero. He does not play along with the king’s intentions and plans but uses that opportunity to achieve anther goal. Though he does not comment or react when the king sleeps with the peasant girl, he is hurt. Robin Hood is another example. He and his six friends use their skills and weapons to fight against the evil king. He really works hard in defending the poor and the needy.
There are many other things that are seen in this film that may have portrayed the government both in the American and the English systems. We can conclude among other things that the films were aired in order to criticize their own government.