Friday, April 20, 2012
What can I say? I'm a fan. I always have been. The story of Robin Hood was one of my first inspirations. When I was a kid, I always wanted to run around the yard with my homemade bow (a slightly curved stick with a piece of kite string tied to either end) and play the rebel, the outlaw. All right, fine. Sometimes I still do that. The only difference is I can now afford slightly better weaponry. Not that anything has met its demise at my hands. Except that one lamp. And the corner of my desk. And that one spot on the wall in The Man's office. But other than that, I have done no harm.
So I thought today would be a perfect day (being 'R' day and all) to feature all things Robin Hood, more specifically books, television and movies. And I'm not going to talk about all of them. There's too much so this will be a limited (although it made not feel like it right now) list. As always, if I don't talk about your favorites (sorry, Errol Flynn but that picture's all you're gonna get), please feel free to admonish me in the comments.
Let's get started, shall we?
The King Raven Trilogy by Stephen Lawhead. This series includes the titles Hood, Scarlet, and Tuck. Scarlet is my personal favorite of the three and is told through the POV of Will Scarlet. In this series, Robin Hood is Bran ap Brychan, a Welshman hunted by the Normans who takes to the woods to save his life. This series is deep and dark and so gorgeously written. Hood was the first novel by Stephen Lawhead I'd ever read and it was good enough to turn me into a lifelong fan.
The Outlaw Chronicles by Angus Donald. Told through the POV of Alan a Dale. If Stephen Lawhead's series is dark then this series is just plain brutal. This is not a happy sing-song Robin Hood here. This is a man who, if crossed, will cut out your tongue before he cuts off your extremities. Angus Donald doesn't pull any punches in this series and it's awesome. It includes Outlaw, Holy Warrior, King's Man (which I am reading now) and the soon to be released Warlord. I liked these books so much that I was willing to order my copy of King's Man from England when I couldn't get a copy here in the good ole USA.
Lady of the Forest and Lady of Sherwood by Jennifer Roberson. I'm not going to write tons about these two novels but I just wanted to mention it because it's written by a woman and tells the Robin Hood legend from the POV of Maid Marion. The new cover makes it look like a real bodice ripping romance and it isn't. Both books are a good read.
In 2006, the BBC released this AWESOME reboot of the Robin Hood legend. Jonas Armstrong starred as the titular character. It lasted for three seasons. Fun fact: I wasn't sure I'd make it through the first episode because it's a little cheesy. And by 'a little', I mean a lot. But once you just embrace that fact, this show is just plain fun. Speaking of fun, I think Keith Allen (who played the Sheriff of Nottingham) had entirely too much playing his role. I always love it when he shows up on screen (yes, this show has made it into my repeated viewings rotation along with Firefly, Buffy and Veronica Mars.) And while the first season is a variable cornucopia of physic defying stunts and improbable escapes and plot lines, the second season took all that and added some drama. There's a big shocking death at the end of it that ensured that Season Two would remain ever my favorite. This series is available for instant viewing through Netflix.
Disney's Robin Hood. Released in 1973. Fun fact: this script had eight writers and if you have (or can get your hands on) the Most Wanted DVD edition of this movie, you can see the alternate ending where a wounded Robin Hood is about to be stabbed by Prince John when King Richard, home from the crusades, interrupts in the nick of time. It was deemed too dark and was hence changed.
Another Fun Fact: I've probably watched this movie at least 800 times. Maybe 8,000. It was a big, big hit in my family. I can still sing the songs. And sometimes do, much to the delight of everyone surrounding me at the time. I do apologize to the people on that airplane that time I flew over Nottingham. It's just... I was so excited to be that close. You understand, I'm sure.
Robin Hood: Men In Tights. Released in 1993. Directed by Mel Brooks and, according to IMDB, written by five people. I'm laughing just thinking about this movie. Cary Elwes (whom I adore in everything he does... and hey, he's guest starred on Psych too!) is a perfect Robin Hood in this most excellent spoof. Richard Lewis plays Prince John and you know what? The entire cast is perfect and I can't list them all. If you haven't seen this film, you really should. You'll love it. Unless you hate things that are funny. Then I can't help you.
My favorite line in all too quotable movie comes after Prince John asks why people should listen to Robin Hood and Robin answers, "Because, unlike some other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent." (Kevin Costner, I'm looking at you.)
And to leave with you today, here's my favorite scene: