The trailers for the new Robin Hood movie feature archery stunts that appear to have some heavy CGI assistance. But, according to a new video released by Robin Hood’s archery consultant, Lars Andersen, many of those seemingly impossible stunts were not only real, but also pulled from history. However, there are a few reasons to call that claim into question. Are y’all ready for some archery drama?
Anderson has released two videos on his YouTube taking us behind the scenes of archery practice for Robin Hood. Co-star Jamie Foxx is nowhere to be found, even though his character can reportedly fire “two arrows per second,” but star Taron Egerton clearly did his homework. The video shows him pulling off a series of archery stunts—which include firing at moving targets and jumping to fire three arrows in a row...also at moving targets. It’s admittedly impressive, and I admire Egerton’s dedication.
However, in this case it’s apparently not just about looking cool, it’s also about being real. In more ways than one. In the video, Andersen claims there was little CGI used in the movie, and that many of the archery stunts were done naturally. “The saying was ‘The less CGI arrows, the better,’” Andersen wrote below the video. I’m not sure how much this was actually the case; after all, Foxx said in 2017, “We’re shooting with our bows, but they’re computer-generated it so it’s rapid-fire, almost like an [AK-47].”
Then, there’s the history angle. Director Otto Bathurst claims in the video that the archery was historically accurate—though he openly acknowledges that the film itself isn’t (though we could tell that just by looking at the damn thing).
“The film we made is very specifically not historically accurate, because the Robin Hood tale has been told over many centuries,” Bathurst says. “But despite the film not being historically accurate, I wanted the archery to feel as authentic and real and visceral as possible.”
I’ve got to be honest, I don’t need my archery stunts to be historically accurate in a movie where Ben Mendelsohn’s Sheriff of Nottingham seems to have kept his Rogue One wardrobe, and the Merry Men are basically Antifa. But apparently the movie wants them to be, and this is where things get tricky. Because...it turns out Anderson is not exactly the most popular figure in the archery community.
A self-professed expert, Andersen has spent the past several years promoting what he calls “historically accurate” archery. He went viral back in 2015 with a stunt video where he said “everything we know about archery is a lie.” In the video, he claimed he was using long-lost techniques from ancient archers, which are different than the ones we use now. Using them, archers could fire better, faster, and stronger. And also do parkour.
However, many archery buffs have criticized his claims, saying he uses trick shots and clever camera editing to disguise his technique’s shortcomings. Plus, there’s the whole idea that he revived a dead form of archery, which he hasn’t. Rather, he’s reportedly adopted forms of archery that weren’t common in Europe, but have been (and still are) practiced around the world.
As archer Patricia Gonsalves put it: “Andersen is an excellent archer, of that there is little doubt. However his claims of historical and ancient techniques are much too broad and inaccurate, revealing that he is not actually an expert in traditional archery used for hunting or warfare.”
None of this takes away from what look to be cool stunts being used in an otherwise ridiculous movie, but it does make me question the validity of Andersen and Bathurst’s claims. Not that I need them to be valid. Frankly, I don’t give a shit. Stunts don’t have to be real or accurate in order to be fun—Bette Midler spent hours on a wire for Hocus Pocus and I’m still convinced she has the ability to fly. Robin Hood is a movie where an arrow splits a wooden painting in half. We’ve already suspended our disbelief plenty, and that’s just fine.