Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Adventures of Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood; Adventure, USA, 1938; D: Michael Curtiz, William Keighley, S: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone, Claude Rains

England, 1191. The King, Richard the Lionhart, was captured during the Crusades. His brother, prince John, takes over the power and starts oppressing the Saxons by unbearably raising the taxes and enslaving them. But when his men want to arrest the poor Much for shooting at a deer, he is saved by Robin Hood, Earl of Locksley. He quickly assembles a small group of rebels, among them Little John and Friar Tuck, who steal from the rich and give to the poor. Robin also gains the heart of Maid Marian, who helps him escape from prison where he was captured by John's people. When the king finally returns, John is banished and Robin leaves with Marian.

An enormously popular classic, light adventure movie "The Adventures of Robin Hood" still holds up fairly well to the modern audience. Everything here is made the good old fashion way: the hero is idealistic, his cause and methods are clean, the characters and the story are all elevated and somehow childishly sweet and naive, while the set design is an opulent feast. Errol Flynn perfectly embodies the hero who rises during the hard times and some of his lines are delivered deliberately self-ironic and optimistic. The movie is great fun for all ages in the first half due to it's humorous touches, from the scene where one of prince John's guards hold up Much and exchange an ironic dialogue with him ("What's your name?" - "Better than yours, for sure!") up to the delicious sequence where Robin Hood enters the castle and angrily complains about the injustice done towards the average people due to the new taxes, shocks all the noble guests at the dinner and then sits and helps himself with a meal on some random plate, which causes prince John to cynically say: "Help yourself, such imprudence must surely cause a mighty appetite!" Olivia de Havilland is also great as Marian, but once the movie stops using humor and becomes too serious in the second half, it somehow loses its fun and becomes just a dry adventure which turns out rather tiresome towards the end.


No comments: