The recent movie Robin Hood was a truly excellent, well adapted, beautifully executed script. The storyline was not entirely what I had expected. I never pegged Robin to be a crusader, at least not literally, nor a politician in his pre-Hood days.
However, what was significant to me was that for much of the plot, this movie kept medieval real estate principles on the mind. I’m not sure that anyone else in a dark movie theatre could have seen fine Aussie actors such as Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett and still be more fascinated by the depiction of feudal oppression and property serfdom that were consistent sub-themes in the movie. But what is the significance of this?
We should recognize that much of the property rights that we enjoy today in Canada were derived from English real property laws that have their roots in the Crown’s ultimate ownership of all property in the realm. We are all tenants of a sort with varying rights to tenure. For that reason, we often see this demonstrated in government’s right to expropriate or retake private lands to further some public good such as road construction (with reasonable compensation to the owner, of course). Think Robin’s nemesis, King John’s, assumed right to the profits of the land. Except, in medieval times there were no rights to fair compensation.
Have we come a long way, baby? You betcha! But, every so often, we are reminded of the influence of the past on the present—even from the silverscreen.