I am not a movie critic, nor have I ever professed to be, but I had the absolute misfortune to watch a film today about the legendary Robbing Hood that was filmed in 2002 AD in and around Brighouse, West Yorkshire. The film was given to me by a friend who lived in Brighouse at the time, but who periodically visits London to help organise professional film events for television (the last major one being the BAFTA presentations in February), and when he does so, he frequently stays over at my flat in North London. I enjoy his visits as we have several mutual friends in the Yorkshire area, and can ‘catch up’ on local gossip and activities, much of which centres around a local belief that Robin Hood himself was originally from Yorkshire, and is buried in a secluded woodland grave at Kirklees. Such is the local belief, at any rate, and newspapers (local newspapers, that is) always seem ready to try and establish that Robin was a ‘born and bred’ Yorkshireman and that Nottingham Castle and Sherwood Forest (Robin’s reputed historical domain), are only ‘fairy Tale myths’ whose only true motivation was a ruse invented by the Nottingham Tourist industry. Perhaps not surprisingly, the latter have argued that the entire situation is the other way round, and that it is the ‘Yorkshireites’ who are trying to filch the historical tradition to attract tourists to their own impoverished area.
But I digress. The fact remains that the current day dispute does exist; in fact, has done so since the early 1980’s when a local woman from Brighouse, known affectionately as ‘Babs the witch’, began a ruthless Press campaign to establish that the woodland grave at Kirklees (just 2 miles from her home, and in fact only a Victorian folly) was the exact place where Robin was buried after firing off his last arrow.
It is against this background that the film was made, and kept by my friend as a recorded account of ‘local history’ for his extensive archives. Perhaps the fact that the film in question was made as a ‘spoof’ of the Yorkshire legend, was another reason my friend agreed to impart the film to myself and Della, wanting only serious research material to make up his library.
Anyway, Della and myself finally got around to watching it yesterday, and it has to be said that its content was truly hilarious!
The film is introduced and presented by one Mark Gibbons, and the only other participants – apart from surprised pedestrians having a microphone forced into their faces – were Mark Gibbons himself at a couple of locations near to Brighouse, and Babs herself who had agreed to be interviewed in the local Three Nuns pub.
But the film had some interesting moments near its beginning, before the ‘grand finale’ in the pub and the filming of the interview.
Perhaps most amusing was the sheer amount of ‘takes’ needed to perfect just one scene. And maybe it didn’t help when Mark Gibbons was trying to give an introductory commentary about the famous outlaw, and Babs decided upon that very moment to walk her little dog in the background, right in camera view, when it was desperately pulling her towards some selected ‘doggy spot’ where it was trying to defecate!
The film crew’s luck did not seem to hold out when, later at the Three Nuns, and Babs was trying to describe some bonky person who had declared that the Kirklees grave was really the haunt of a blood-sucking ‘vampire’, that the portable pay-phone on the bar rang – not just once, but on three separate occasions! If this was not enough, people kept using the nearby loo, and as the toilet ‘flushings’ were clearly audible in the footage, those takes as well, had to be re-filmed.
But to be fair, the film itself made for great amusement. Well, it certainly had its moments! And perhaps little wonder that it had been filed away as a ‘spoof’!
Well, Della and myself were certainly entertained by it anyway. Its not often you can turn in after a late night ‘film’, without ‘Hollywood violence’ giving cause for unwanted dreams. The film scarcely did that much, but it did provide an opportunity for brief discussion about the potential importance of keeping our Green Belts clean!
For now everyone
David (and Della who is now asleep!).