Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Legend of Robin Hood (1975)

The Legend of Robin Hood was a six part television series. Broadcast in late 1975 it then promptly disappeared for three decades until a petition campaign by Robin Hood fans encouraged its DVD release. During its absence the series became something of a legend in its own right, and expectations amongst those who had never seen it ran high.
Filmed for the most part on interior sets, the series takes the form of a historical drama, similar in style to other BBC programmes of that era. But that is not to suggest the historical content is totally accurate in regard to the throne of England, nor the original ballads about Robin Hood. This is entertainment after all.Martin Potter makes an outstanding Robin Hood. In this version he is wrongfully outlawed by King Richard himself, who believes Robin deserted him on the brink of departure for the Crusades. Potter is appropriately youthful, aggressive, but with the educated tone of a Saxon Lord. The main plot line involves the scheming Sheriff of Nottingham and Guy of Gisborne as they assist Prince John to take the throne from King Richard. Paul Darrow's Sheriff of Nottingham hints at the actor's subsequent performance as Avon in "Blake's 7" which made him a household name in the UK. David Dixon as the overtly camp Prince John is equally compelling, and not for the last time it is the villains of the piece who almost steal the show. Fans of Robin of Sherwood will appreciate John "Herne the Hunter" Abineri in a major role as Lady Marian's uncle, intent on marrying his niece to Guy of Gisborne in an attempt to bring Saxon and Norman together.
The Legend of Robin Hood was an important stepping stone in the modernisation of Robin Hood. It was not the first production to move away from the concept of "men in Lincoln green tights", but it was a very significant one. The general public or younger Robin Hood fans, seeking the swashbuckling style of Errol Flynn or Richard Greene, will not find it here. Fans of the Robin of Sherwood approach, full of the mysticism of the Pagan Green Man in dark damp forests, might also be disappointed at the lack of witchcraft and the emphasis firmly on changing Kingdoms. But "The Legend of Robin Hood" is recommended and rewarding viewing, full of outstanding performances.

Labels: ,