Saturday, March 4, 2017

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; adventure, USA, 1991; D: Kevin Reynolds, S: Kevin Costner, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Morgan Freeman, Alan Rickman, Christian Slater, Gerladine McEwan, Mike McShane, Brian Blessed, Jack Wild, Sean Connery

England, 12th century. After escaping from a torture chamber in Jerusalem following the Crusades, Robin of Locksley returns to his homeland with an accomplice, Moor Azeem, but finds people are oppressed there by the autocratic Sheriff of Nottingham, who wants to take over England due to the long absence of King Richard. Teaming up with several rebels, they establish a base in the Sherwood Forest where they rob from the rich and give to the poor. When the Sheriff destroys his base and kidnaps Maid Marian in order to force her to marry him, Robin Hood and his men storm the castle. The Sheriff is killed, Robin is married to Marian while King Richard returns to the country.

Away back the 2nd highest grossing film of 1991, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" shows one thing: nostalgia sometimes cannot hide the fact that a film can feel very dated by today's standards. It seems there was a huge disparity between what the authors wanted the film to be: a syncretism of very realistic, dirty elements of the Middle Ages and the light-hearted, at times even romantic adventures from the 'golden age of Hollywood', and these two contradictory tones clash badly with each other throughout. They should have had one or the other, but not both. The opening already illustrates this, showing a dark sequence of Robin Hood in the torture chamber in Jerusalem, equipped with such shocking scenes as cutting of the hands of the prisoners — was this really necessary for a Robin Hood film or wouldn't it have been better to simply cut that sequence altogether?

The scenes involving witch Mortianna are equally as gruesome, with several disgusting moments, such as her mixing her blood with her saliva for a ritual, whereas the now infamous sequence of the Sheriff of Nottingham trying to rape Marian while the priest is standing next to them holding a prayer is also a disaster. Such vile and ill-conceived ideas contaminate the film, leaving the viewers with a rather uneven taste in their mouths. Overall, though, this is still a very solid film with at least a couple of things going for it: one of them are fantastic locations, from the gorgeous forest up to the opulent Carcassone castle; the cinematography involving several camera drives is a delight; Bryan Adams magical song "Everything I Do" is simply perfect whereas a couple of comical moments lift up the mood (during an ambush, Azeem informs Robin Hood that 20 soldiers are coming in the forest. Robin then informs his men that only "five" enemies are coming. He then explains to Azeem that his men "can't count anyway") and Kevin Costner gives a relaxed, sympathetic performance. This is a mishmash of a film, yet it is still fun at times.


No comments: