Richard Armitage and the durability of Guy of Gisborne, part 2

Continued from here, an analysis responding to Richard Armitage’s statement that his favorite scene to film in Robin Hood up to the point he was asked was the sequence around Guy, Marian, and the necklace (Robin Hood 1.7).

Comment via tumblr:
Screen shot 2014-02-15 at 10.39.13 AMSorry! I really did have to go to bed. Here’s the next chunk, though. And I am flattered that you liked it so well.


Here’s the next section of the sequence. One imagines that rhythm-wise, it may have been shot with the previous one, and simply cut up in order to enhance the viewer’s tension over whether Robin would obtain the necklace quickly enough to return to Marian so the deception would be at least drawn into question.



The overall effect of this second element in the sequence is, I think, to take all of the authority and open violence that Guy’s draw together after / from his slap to Edward, along with his resulting ability to talk Marian, into a corner and scrunch it, and Guy, into an ever smaller sphere of more concentrated rage. This compacting is accomplished via the apparent re-energization of a status conflict between Guy and Marian. The result of this decision is that Guy, while clearly in charge of this piece of the scene physically and rhetorically as it begins, falls into a sort of tempo battle with with Marian as he tries to defeat her verbally by outmatching the speed of her responses. The end of that tempo battle sees Marian’s re-establishment of control over their interaction, buying herself just a little more time.

See how this works. Guy begins by insisting that Marian show him the necklace, with the most intense energy in this scene:


When she resists, he reiterates, but the intensity in his eyes is already dissipating, if only slightly:


And when she again refuses, Guy’s eyes turn away from her, and toward Edward:


The purpose of Guy’s glance is not immediately clear — to see whether Edward will threaten him, to see how Edward is reacting to the exchange, to see whether he will get any help from Edward — but its effect in the scene is. When Guy tears his eyes from Marian, Marian gains the rhetorical upper hand and her refusal becomes not just emphatic but also principled.

The camera pulls off the face shot of Guy at this point to give us a better sense of Guy’s stance. The change in perspective enhances the viewer’s awareness that he’s starting to lose.


At this point in the scene, the two transition from the dynamic between traitor and betrayed enforcer to one of bickering but equal siblings. Guy’s hands are restless as he insists to Marian that she betrayed him. It looks like he is closing in to enforce his judgment — “you gave him the necklace, told him of my plan, and now you will pay the price”


but as he closes in, her denials force him to shake his own head in response. She holds her position and he moves his head in denial, so she is the status winner, both physically and in terms of forcing him to respond to her statements at her tempo rather than his. Their conversion becomes a well-timed fencing skirmish in which his rather obvious, slow advance is countered by her elegant and principled repartee as parry.


Just when Guy’s eyes flare and again, and we think he will re-establish his status, his posture backs off and down, his head coming lower as his eyes become more anguished.


He seems to back off of his pursuit of the status conflict, as a consequence of which he loses status. Again, the camera backs off to let us see his decline.


One is almost reminded of the way that Marian and Sir Edward reestablish their status over against a Sir Guy who’s trying to press a point in episode 1.2 (“Sheriff Got Your Tongue?”) — quite medievally, as if Edward and Marian’s superiority represents the natural order of things. Guy’s retreat in these scene reflects a number of necessities — no doubt stage directions and the need to let Marian pass in front of him, as well as the way the show visualizes ingrained manners between men and women of the lower gentry –but also the way that Marian has rhetorically reestablished her right to “prove herself,” despite Guy’s skepticism.

This got long, so I added the final scene in a third post.

~ by Servetus on February 15, 2014.

5 Responses to “Richard Armitage and the durability of Guy of Gisborne, part 2”

  1. […] To be continued tomorrow sometime. Sorry, have to go to bed. Continues here. […]


  2. I agree with Richard on this one. I loved that whole scene. It just had so much going on.


  3. […] from part 1 and part 2 of a meditation on Richard Armitage’s remark that he felt the scene in Robin Hood 1.7 between […]


  4. Watching Guy hurts me. In some ways, the way you pick him apart is like twisting the screw.
    It’s fascinating to see why it’s painful to watch but naming the indignities and suffering makes it worse.
    Yes, I’m taking my little pain-loving bottom over to part three now…


    • I think that’s fair — because it is hard to watch these things and then pointing out every little pain makes it worse.

      I’m pretty sure the reason that Guy sort of ended up being the “you won’t get out of this anytime soon” role was that when I started watching it I was trying to figure out how to deal with my own humiliations.


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