Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Eight: "The Adventures of Robin Hood"


A storybook adventure come to life; flawless in every detail with spectacular sets and color and a wonderful Korngold score. Gorgeous and romantic, the movie builds to a thrilling climax which includes an unbelievably athletic sword fight between Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, and the rescue of ridiculously beautiful Maid Marian played by Olivia DeHavilland. Am I being hyperbolic? The film deserves it.

Flynn in the lead role is dynamic not just in his actions but in his acting: the passion he puts into his speeches; as rousing in commitment to right and truth as any words ever filmed. Which distinguishes this photoplay from mere storybook-- its clash of rich and poor; the struggle against unmediated power, resonates today. This movie is not a dead object, but living art.

The defining scene comes at the outset, when Robin Hood enters the Normans' castle to confront their nobles, who study the stranger with surprise and wonder. Insiders confront the Outsider from their highly-placed table. This sets the confronting motifs of Castle and Forest; Establishment and Underground. For those who exist on the margins, this remains powerful myth. The stark oppositions of society are presented with colorful, emotional power.

Until the relentless heartlessness of pure greed is ever halted, this film will remain a classic.

1 comment:

robin hood said...

I have to disagree.

Good movie, but America never truly understands Robin hood any more than England could film Billy the Kid.

The movie's also dated badly: Outlaws looking like garden gnomes, swinging through a forest that looks like it's intended more for Tarzan.

Flynn is being Flynn. Haviland is being Haviland. There's just no difference between what they do here and what they do in "They Died With Their Boots On", etc.

(I like him as Custer better).