Olivia from Meanwhile, in Rivendell… is hosting a Robin Hood week and, naturally, I had to join in the fun. I’m an ardent fan of Robin Hood – the character, the books, the movies, and the TV shows (yes, there is more than one). It was a bit difficult to decide on what I should write about, as my options were almost limitless, but since movie (and TV show in this case) comparison posts are so much fun, I thought I’d do another one.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: I think many people view this re-telling of the Robin Hood story as the definitive version, and it’s quite easy to see why. Many of the plot points from the original legends are brought to the screen in glowing Technicolor – from Robin and Littlejohn’s battle over the bridge to the archery tournament to the return of King Richard. While the film can be episodic at times, it flows together well. Two thumbs up!
Robin Hood: This adaption is more a series of entertaining, swashbuckling vignettes than a cohesive whole – and I’m fine with that. It’s good, solid, entertaining fun. Not until Prince John calls in all the taxes and Friar Tuck is put in jail does any real plot come together (besides the thread of Robin + Marian throughout). Still, like I said, it’s good fun and a great interpretation of the Robin Hood legend.
BBC Robin Hood: How do I go about describing the story? It’s a three-season TV show, so there’s lots of plots and subplots and romances and drama and all that good stuff. I will say, however, that in terms of accuracy to the original Robin Hood stories, BBC’s adaption falls short. Very, very short. Don’t get me wrong; the episodes are still awesome. They just don’t stick close to all those thrilling tales of old.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: Errol Flynn seems born to play the role of Robin Hood and he makes the part his own with his customary swagger, feats of derring do, and more than a few glimpses of Robin’s romantic nature (in his scenes with Maid Marian, of course). Flynn’s delivery of Robin Hood’s speeches stirs the heart and he never misses a beat in the entirety of his performance. (Those sword fights…)
Robin Hood: In many ways, this Robin Hood (appropriately enough, a fox) differs little from Errol Flynn’s portrayal (nothing wrong with that). After all, Robin is supposed to be the brave, bold, daring leader with a dash of cheekiness and plenty of heart. This Robin has all of that, and more, and there’s something about either Brian Bedford’s voice acting or the animator’s skills (or my own mushy, gushy feels – or all three) that makes me love this Robin Hood the most of any portrayal I’ve seen. I mean, seriously, when he says “Keep your chin up. Someday there’ll be happiness in Nottingham again. You’ll see.” I get this close to crying. Every. Single. Time.
BBC Robin Hood: For whatever reason, a lot of the show’s fans don’t much care for Robin himself. I guess I can kind of get that, ’cause he can be a jerk and all, but Gisborne is a murderer and everyone loves him, so… Anyway, Jonas Armstrong’s Robin Hood is much darker than either Errol Flynn’s or Brian Bedford’s. He’s also a deeper character, more nuanced, more interesting, which only makes sense – it is a TV show, after all, with much time to develop its characters. I don’t wholeheartedly like this Robin Hood, but I sympathize with him and I can respect him.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: You’ve got most of the classics here: Prince John, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Sir Guy, Maid Marian, Littlejohn, Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck, Much, King Richard…these are staple Robin Hood characters, and each is portrayed about as perfectly as you can get ’em. Love it.
Robin Hood: There aren’t as many classic characters in this one – and all of them are talking animals (there’s nothing wrong with that, but I feel like it should be pointed out). Skippy & Co. take up a relatively large chunk of the movie, and the only member of Robin’s band that makes it into animation is Littlejohn. (Mayyyybe Friar Tuck.) There is Allan a Dale, though, which is nice. And Maid Marian and Prince John and the Sheriff. And King Richard. You could say Sir Hiss is a counterpart of Sir Guy, but I don’t see much resemblance. Overall, in terms of accuracy-to-the-originals, it’s not as good as The Adventures of Robin Hood, but not quite as bad as…
BBC Robin Hood: Okay, sure, a lot of the characters have the same name as their legendary templates, but that’s about where any similarities end. Marian is a feisty action girl. Friar Tuck is a warrior priest. Allan is a trickster. Much is Robin’s former manservant. Will Scarlett is a carpenter. The Sheriff, Sir Guy, and Prince John are appropriately villainous, but BBC gave them each a life of their own. King Richard is a jerkface (well, at least that’s accurate) and there’s lots of new characters, too. Like Edward and Djaq and Kate and Isabella. I do adore most of the characters, though.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: Erich Wolfgang Korngold captured the essence of the story of Robin Hood with his incredible score. It’s bold and daring and instantly recognizable. Plus #nostalgia for me, especially the bits of scoring when Robin and his men attack the treasure/taxes procession and also when Robin and Littlejohn fight on the bridge. It’s an awesome score.
Robin Hood: This being an animated Disney film, there are songs. My favorite is ‘Love’ (I’m still going to do a BBC Robin Hood fan-vid to it someday) – it beautifully encapsulates Robin and Marian’s relationship. And all the other ones are great, too.
BBC Robin Hood: Okay, so there’s the main theme (this being a TV show) that just is Robin Hood to me. Plus a great soundtrack throughout the show, plus two songs that are first sung aloud and then used for the duration of the series in their instrumental forms and it tugs on the heartstrings, y’all. First the song that Alice sings to little Littlejohn, and then the one that Eve sings to Much. Music is my thing and I love how the show reuses its musical themes to great – and often emotional – effect.
The Adventures of Robin Hood: The traditional Robin + Marian romance. Errol Flynn and Olivia de Haviland were paired in a bunch of movies, most of which I haven’t seen, but I doubt anything could match the chemistry they have in this film. At first, Marian doesn’t care much for Robin (an understatement) but after seeing his true motivation, she quickly falls for him (after all, it’s an under-two-hours-long movie). A sweet, gentle love story.
Robin Hood: Another lovely romance. Robin and Marian get a love song, fight side by side at the archery tournament, and get married. No tragedy, no heartbreak (well, except when Robin’s about to get executed – my heart!), and plenty of shippable moments. The only complaint I have is that Marian disappears after ‘Phony King of England’ and doesn’t return until the last scene. Apparently, there was an alternate ending in which Marian found the wounded Robin and hid him/nursed him back to health, which would’ve been EPIC, but anyway…
BBC Robin Hood: *bawls* Sure, they’re annoying in the first season, but adorable in the second. AND THEN SHE UP AND DIES. It’s so unfair. Still, I wholeheartedly ship BBC Robin and Marian. They’re wonderful together. (And I love all the other ships, too, like Will + Djaq, Much + Eve, and Guy + Meg.)
The Adventures of Robin Hood: King Richard comes back and squelches Prince John, Sir Guy, and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Everyone else gets pardoned and lives happily ever after.
Robin Hood: King Richard comes back and squelches Prince John, Sir Hiss, and the Sheriff of Nottingham (+ Trigger + Nutsy). Everyone else gets pardoned, Robin and Marian marry, and “that’s the way it really happened”. (I refuse to believe differently.)
BBC Robin Hood: King Richard gets captured and imprisoned (I HATE HISTORY), almost everyone dies, and nobody lives happily ever after. Ugggggh.
It’s a tough choice because each of these versions of Robin Hood is so different. One is a 1938 Technicolor show-stopper, one is a little-known Disney flick, and one is a uniquely modern BBC production. It’s difficult to chose! I think that The Adventures of Robin Hood is closest to the spirit of the original legends. Disney’s animated adaption is the most fun (definitely) and has the added attraction (for me, at least) of being hugely nostalgic. And BBC’s Robin Hood is, in turn, enormously awesome and frustrating.
However, I’m going with Robin Hood (1973) as my favorite of the three. Because I love, love, love it (even more than BBC Robin Hood).
NEVER FORGET THE OUTLAWS.