Thursday, August 03, 2006

Robin Hood (1991) film review.

" Robin Hood", starring Patrick Bergin in the lead role, surely ranks alongside Robin and Marian as one of the two best, intelligent Robin Hood films to date. Of course 1991 was also the year of Prince of Thieves, distracting the general public with the celebrity status of Kevin Costner and the ballad of Bryan Adams. But "Robin Hood" is the superior film by far.
The basic plot is simple enough at first glance. In time honoured style, Sir Robert Hode and his friend Will come to the aid of Much the Miller, who has been caught poaching. Sir Robert is summoned before Saxon Baron Roger Daguerre, only to find his former friend now more eager to please Norman Sir Miles Folcanet, the consequence of which leads to Robert and Will being outlawed. Sir Robert Hode of course rapidly becomes Robin Hood, and the familiar ever popular encounters with Little John, Friar Tuck, and the band of outlaws ensue. But this film is ultimately about much more than the adventures of Robin Hood battling against Norman oppression, exciting though those battles certainly are.
The night before Robin is outlawed he catches a glimpse of Maid Marian. At this point in her personal development Marian is young, beautiful, a "maid" (virgin), but driven more by her hormones than any political cause. What Robin does not see is that she is also a fairly spoilt brat, the product of a sheltered life, and destined for an arranged marriage to Norman Miles Folcanet. She is attracted by the dark, handsome, unconventional Robert Hode; even more so when she witnesses his dramatic escape from the Castle. Marian decides to investigate further, disguised as a boy, and entering the outlaw camp. The landscapes she walks across with Robin are cold, colourless places under Norman rule, and she learns for the first time about the plight of the peasants. Marian's awakening as both a woman and a person are ultimately what this film is really about. Robin Hood's ability with the bow and sword certainly vanquish his enemies, but it is Marian's love which truly empowers this "Green Man" of pagan mythology, as is evident in the final frames of the film when the gloomy landscape fills with sun. This is the power of the woman Maid Marian; not her ability with a bow and arrow, or entering Nottingham Castle as a spy, and it is this which makes the film so unique and interesting.
Patrick Bergin makes an excellent Robin Hood; romantic, angry and proud in equal measure. Owen Teale performs well as Will Scarlet, the most prominent outlaw in the script, but after a superb moment during the opening sequences in which he draws a blade slowly across the baron's neck, he is given little to challenge his ability for the rest of the film. The villains (Jurgen Prochnow and Jeroen Krabbe) are equally fine, without the camp humour of other film versions. But there is much humour here to be found, as in David Morrissey playing Little John with both the accent and attitude of a John Lennon, whilst Jeff Nuttall portrays Friar Tuck as a hustler, eating chicken so he can sell the bones as Holy relics. But it is Uma Thurman who truly excels as Maid Marian, and about whom the film is really about. Her riveting performance sees her alternate between the Pre Raphaelite beauty of Ophelia and the punk style of Pattie Smith. Highly recommended.

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14 Comments:

Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood, Patrick Bergin, 1991.

Patrick Bergin - Sir Robert Hode/Robin Hood
Owen Teale - Will Scarlett
Jürgen Prochnow - Sir Miles Folcanet
Uma Thurman - Maid Marian
Jeroen Krabbé - Baron Roger Daguerre
Danny Webb - Much the Miller
David Morrissey - Little John
Jeff Nuttall - Friar Tuck
Anthony O'Donnell - Emlyn the Bow Maker
Edward Fox - Prince John

Directed by John Irvin

Writers: Sam Resnick & John McGrath

Filmed mostly in Wales.

12:27 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Robin Hood, starring Patrick Bergin in the lead role, surely has to be one of the two best Robin Hood films to date.

Uma Thurman excels as Maid Marian. Coming of age in a land made gloomy by Norman oppression, her virility breaths new life into the pagan faiths of old.

12:32 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Patrick Bergin rocks the 'stache.

11:48 AM  
Blogger mistral-archer said...

This for me is the best version of Robin Hood on film, the cast are fantastic. I would love to be able to get a region 2 version of this on DVD.

5:19 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Glad to hear you say that, because many people I mention this movie to have never seen it. (I think they all went to the Costner version instead).

The way the season changes as the movie progresses is outstanding. great symbolism. And Uma Thurman is a fabulous Marian. (One of her best roles).

1:28 AM  
Anonymous Ciriel said...

This is my favourite movie, I simply love it. I had the opportunity to watch the original version just some weeks ago (before the DVD, I had just seen the dubbed version of it, I also would love a RC-2-DVD version). Well, I didn’t think the movie could become even better, but it did! I was fond of all the different accents immediately!
I can’t even really decide what my favourite scene is – I love them all. ;)

Patrick Bergin is a very fine Robin Hood for me. When I watched the movie the first time back in the ‘90s (I missed the cinema release cause I first was ill and then the movie was already out of the theatres cause so few people went to see it – guess all went to see “Prince of Thieves”), I at last found out why Costners’ portrait of the outlaw always left me a little bit … well, maybe you could say disappointed.
Bergin played Robin a reckless, bold, proud and clever character. It was so much fun to watch him! Even after all these years and though I know the dialogue by heart it still makes me laugh. This was exactly the way I wanted Robin Hood to be. Great!
Marian, though modern in some ways, I like a lot, too. At least she does something instead of sitting around crying or screaming.

I also like the look of the movie: I read a lot about it being dark. To be honest, I never thought it being this way in that words. I mean, these are the Middle Ages and we are talking about the British Isles. Of course it’s dark, bad weather and dirty (though I like the fact that the actors were allowed to get muddy), it has to be. I wouldn’t have expected bright colours. It gives everything a more “authentic” look.
The idea of explaining with a film what got the whole legend started I liked a lot. So I had no problems with having no Sheriff and no Sir Guy. There were the characters who play the same part, so I don’t bother what their names are.
What I especially loved was the reason why the idea was born to give the money back to the poor people. Even as a child I began to wonder who would be so nice and just give money away for nothing. Really, that sounds pretty strange when you think about it closely. So I liked the fact that Robin suggests (with support by Will and others) to give the money to the poor to prevent them from betraying the outlaws. In my eyes, that’s a quiete clever and realistic solution.
Besides, Robin had to prove his value to the outlaws first (loved the bow scene! – “It’s in the middle finger!”) – cool. He didn’t walk just in, told the people there “I’m the chief now!” and that was fine with everyone. It’s never that easy!

As it’s said above, I also would highly recommend it. Clever, funny, authentic – want more can you want for a good movie?

The only thing I regret is that the movie was cut so much. I only saw the 104 minute version, though I know the first American video release was 116 minutes long. I wonder what was cut out... not to speak of the 133 minute version which seems to be lost. *sigh*

3:30 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

My fave to, along with "Robin & Marian".

Yes, it's dark at first. But look how it changes as the "Green Man" and the "Maid" fall in love.

Very very clever.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Ciriel said...

That's right. I noticed the symbolism from the start though I have to admit that I only understood the full meaning of it after I read Sir James Holts book and got introduced to all the theories behind the legend. ;)

9:15 AM  
Blogger mistral-archer said...

Surely some sort of campaign should be set up, to get a multi-region release for this film.

A film like this deserves a decent release, two disc special edition at least a blue ray release would be nice.

Martin

7:15 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Martin, I totally agree. This film has lived for to long under the shadow of the inferior Prince of Thieves.

7:41 PM  
Blogger mistral-archer said...

I enjoy watching prince of theives the way I enjoy watching the flame and the arrow, very entertaining
its just not a Robin Hood film.
Martin.

1:27 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

For me, the only thing about Prince of Thieves which retains my attention, is Alan Rickman's Sheriff (and the Witch).

2:24 PM  
Blogger Jennifer Brewer said...

The 1991 film is my all time favorite Robin Hood version, and not just because the incomparable David Morrissey is in it, ;-)

7:22 PM  
Blogger Ian Gordon Craig said...

Agreed. Great shame this was overshadowed by the inferior Prince of Thieves.

11:12 PM  

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