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YMMV / Ivanhoe

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The novel

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Averted, because Sir Walter Scott was begged by a personal friend (against his own original intention) to bring the beef-witted Athelstane back from the dead.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Yes Bois-Guilbert is an attempted rapist and Stalker with a Crush but he is also willing to give up everything he's worked for and ever wanted for Rebecca's sake. So by the end, at least, he does seem very sincere in his feelings for her.
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  • Captain Obvious Reveal: "Locksley," a brilliant shot with a bow who leads a merry band of outlaws in Sherwood forest, is revealed to be the secret identity of... none other than Robin Hood! All right, maybe it wasn't originally quite as much of a Captain Obvious Reveal as it is today, because Scott invented several of the tropes that became stock parts of the Robin Hood legend. Still, any reader with even the tiniest familiarity with the genre must have seen it coming a mile away.
  • Die for Our Ship: Rowena. William Makepeace Thackeray's highly inaccurate description says it all:
    William Makepeace Thackeray: And must the Disinherited Knight ... sit down contented for life by the side of such a frigid piece of propriety as that icy, faultless, prim, niminy-piminy Rowena?
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Brian de Bois-Guilbert is disturbingly popular, to the point of being painted as a Love Redeems Heel Face Turner... despite kidnapping Rebecca after trying to rape her.
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  • Fair for Its Day: Isaac of York, though a stereotypical Greedy Jew, is nevertheless depicted as grateful toward Ivanhoe and his adherents, and devoted to his daughter — while Rebecca is downright saintly.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: As Richard Armour put it, "Honestly, how could Ivanhoe have picked that Dumb Blonde, Rowena, over Rebecca?"
    Sir Walter Scott: [in his 1830 Introduction] The character of the fair Jewess found so much favour in the eyes of some fair readers, that the writer was censured, because, when arranging the fates of the characters of the drama, he had not assigned the hand of Wilfred to Rebecca, rather than the less interesting Rowena.
  • It Was His Sled: Today's readers aren't going to be fooled for a second when the mysterious Forest Ranger gives his name as "Locksley". However, Scott's readers would have been kept in the dark, considering Scott was the first author to link Robin Hood's name with the word "Locksley".
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  • Nightmare Fuel: Front-de-Bœuf's threatened Cold-Blooded Torture of Isaac, his deathbed scene with Ulrica, and their subsequent burning alive, have been known to have this effect on readers.
  • Older Than They Think: Scott is sometimes credited with having transferred Robin Hood to the time of Richard The Lion Heart — but in reality he was adopting a tradition that dated back to Scottish historian John Major in early Tudor times and was firmly held by Joseph Ritson, the author of the most influential study of the Robin Hood legend in Scott's own time.
  • Values Resonance: Both Rebecca and Isaac are treated sympathetically, and crucially Scott doesn't have Rebecca convert at the end so that she can marry Ivanhoe or stay in England, showing her Jewish faith is just as important and integral to her as the faith of the Christian characters.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: Odd, that a novel written in such Purple Prose, dealing with dead-and-gone historical figures, with themes of racial and religious hatred, having such extremely disturbing scenes as the Attempted Rape of Rebecca, the threatened Cold-Blooded Torture of Isaac, and the immolations of the parricide Front-de-Bœuf and his treacherous cast-off mistress Ulrica should have been wildly popular for well over a century with children.
  • The Woobie: Various characters at various points in the novel — but Isaac fulfils this role fairly consistently, being a moneylender who can do little to defend himself or his family against the Norman robber barons.

The 1952 Film

  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca, Felix Aylmer as Isaac of York, Norman Wooland as King Richard, Basil Sydney as Waldemar Fitzurse and Michael Brennan as Baldwin.
  • Heartwarming Moments:
    • Early in the film there is a moment where Rowena enters the dining hall and Isaac is the only one to stand. Later when Bois-Guilbert has escaped Torquilstone with Rebecca, Rowena can be seen comforting a saddened Isaac.
    • Rowena and Rebecca's interactions. They confront each other over Ivanhoe (literally – they are standing right over him) at Ashby but quickly realize that they should be helping him instead of wasting time in arguments. They are nothing but friendly with each other later on. Later, Rowena tells Ivanhoe that she will respect his choice if he loves Rebecca.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: In addition to Scott's novel showing the main Jewish characters in a sympathetic light, not only does the movie take it a level further by toning down the stereotyping and having King Richard promise modern civil rights reforms for the Jews of England, Elizabeth Taylor gives a fantastic performance as Rebecca. Decades later she converted to Judaism.
  • Older Than They Think: The portrayal of a Robin Hood that does not look like the traditional Robin Hood (being an older man and not wearing green or the pointy hat, both of which Ivanhoe does instead) may begin with this film and its portrayal of Locksley that was likely done to differentiate itself from The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men, which was released the same year.

The 1982 Film


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