Over the past several weeks I have been taking a look at one of my favorite legends – Robin Hood – and today I will be bringing this series to a close. So far we have looked at the possibility that he was a real man, how his legend has changed over time, and the place he has found in contemporary literature. Today we are going to travel with him to the screen.
Journey to the Screen
The story and legend of Robin Hood is full of action, love, heroism, morality, and, in some instances, tragedy. It is no wonder then that he is a frequent figure of the silver screen. For many people, all they know of this legendary outlaw comes from what they have learned from these films. For others, like me, one of the many films served as merely an introduction to what would turn into a wonderful love affair. Whatever category you may fall into, I doubt there is anyone who hasn’t seen at least one incarnation of the legend brought to film.
My introduction to Robin Hood came at an early age through the Disney animated classic. I absolutely loved this movie as a child. Who am I kidding – I still love this movie. It is full of fun songs (sing-a-long in the comments?), tons of laughs, some rather tense moments, and some iconic moments from the legend. When I was a little girl I would put a blanket over my head and pretend I was Maid Marian, usually acting out her scenes along with the movie. While not the most authentic telling of the story, this movie was a perfect introduction and will always hold a special place in my heart.
Two of the most well known Robin Hood films are the 1938 film The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Errol Flynn and the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner. I love both of these movies. Neither one of them is a perfect representation of the legend, but they are both great films that tell a moving and entertaining story that captures the heart of what Robin Hood is about. One of my favorite Robin Hood films is actually a parody of these two more serious films. I am of course talking about the 1993 Mel Brooks film Robin Hood: Men in Tights starring Cary Elwes. This movie never fails to make me laugh no matter what age I am when viewing it.
My absolute, hands down favorite film version of Robin Hood, however, is not a big screen movie, but a television series. I am referring to the BBC series that ran from 2006-2009 and starred Jonas Armstrong as Robin. I had always loved the story of Robin Hood, but it was not until I experienced this series that that love turned to a passion that rivaled my passion for the Arthurian legend. The show pulled from the more modern take on the legend that places Robin as the Earl of Huntingdon who is outlawed when he takes a stand against the corruption that has overtaken England upon his return from the crusades.
Accompanied by his ever faithful sidekick Much, Robin takes to the forest of Sherwood where he eventually joins with Little John, Will Scarlett, and Allan a Dale among others. One of my favorite things about this show are the relationships between the characters, good and bad. From the friendships between Robin and his men, to the interactions between Robin and the Sheriff or Robin and Guy of Gisborne, to the incredible chemistry between Robin and Marian, this show is firmly based in its characters and their stories. The show is full of lighthearted humor as well as very powerful dramatic moments (The season 2 finale and season 3 series finale left me sobbing for hours after they had finished. I am not exaggerating.) This is one of those series that I want to watch over and over, and thanks to a certain Christmas gift I can.
There are many, many more Robin Hood films than the ones that I have mentioned, including the more recent version starring Russell Crowe, but these are the ones that had the biggest impact on me and my love for the legend. I look forward to whatever incarnations come out in the future and hope that some of them wow me as much as these have. The story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men is one that will always hold sway over my heart and call to me when I need an escape.
What are your favorite Robin Hood films? Do any of the ones I listed make your list? Are there any you love that I failed to mention? Let me know in the comments.