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ROBIN HOOD

Creating The Battle Sequences
Re-creating the world of the latter Middle Ages would prove quite an ambitious task for all involved in the Robin Hood team. To the director who has spent decades making films, however, nothing seemed impossible—not even shooting with the masterful cinematographer John Mathieson on one of Britain's most sprawling and exposed beaches…in some of the harshest weather conditions the British Isles can muster.

Working every day with anywhere between five and a dozen cameras allowed Scott and DP Mathieson to film scenes with full coverage in minimal takes; it truly enabled the director to generate the remarkable energy he brings to his storytelling. With multiple camera setups, Scott also consciously avoided tiring the actors, crucial on a film in which they faced immense physical challenges. Knowing that they would often be wearing heavy, uncomfortable costumes and shooting in cold and wet weather conditions, Scott decided that every shot had to count.

Offers Blanchett, who watched the director at work for the first time on Robin Hood: "Ridley loves the adrenaline and the energy of shooting the way he does. He wants to capture that the first time, so we didn't rehearse a lot. He prefers to rehearse on film, and with so many cameras, he knows he can then cherry-pick his way through it. He is astonishing to watch.”

Halfway through the shoot, the production relocated to Wales and to Freshwater Beach in West Pembrokeshire to shoot the epic battle scenes as the French, under the command of King Philip, seek to invade English soil and reclaim the land. It was a vast undertaking that marked the climactic scenes of the film, and the filmmakers assembled more than 1,500 cast and crew to pull it off.

The team undertook an ambitious series of sequences, with nine standard cameras, a steadicam, a Wescam and a helicopter contributing to Scott and Mathieson's vision. "In Australia we'd say, ‘That's bigger than Ben-Hur,'” laughs Crowe, "and that's how it felt.”

Naturally, the experience was not without its challenges, and the production faced a good deal of difficulty trying to land an invading French army off the windswept Pembrokeshire coast. The surge was so high during the first days of photography, and the team faced enormous swells on the way out to sea that the most seasoned of sailors buckled with motion sickness. That necessitated building a portable dock in the nearby Pembroke to get the shots necessary.

Lensing in this uncontrollable environment for nearly two weeks in weather conditions that ranged from unexpected blasts of heat to torrential rain, the crew fought its own battle with the tide coming in at approximately a meter a minute. This required them to keep relocating 1,500 people and 150 vehicles up a beach that is half a mile long. For the actors playing Robin's Merry Men, however, the epic battle sequence was worth all the hardship. "What we did in Wales, I was scared out of my mind every single day there,” laughs Scott Grimes, who plays the flame-haired Will Scarlet. "We had more than 100 horses riding side by side, galloping down the beach, and we had no idea where the cameras were. It felt like we were in the war. The whole shoot was incredible.”

Little John himself, Kevin Durand, agrees. "Trying to explain what I did that day to a friend on the phone, or to my fiancée on Skype, was wild. She'd tell me, ‘I went to the gym and to work. What did you do today?' I'd reply, ‘I rode at the front of a 130- horse cavalry across the beach in Wales. Then, I attacked a bunch of Frenchmen and killed about 17 of them before lunch.' How do you explain that? That's been this entire movie. It's been amazing.”

The actor who portrays the murderous Godfrey also had his share of showmanship on the battlefield. After he betrays his childhood frie

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