The Adventures of Mother Fuckin’ Robin Hood
Disclaimer: This is a long fucking post but fuck it, I don’t care.
Chances are that you haven’t seen the 1938 Warner Bros. classic masterpiece The Adventures of Robin Hood with Errol Flynn and Olivia De Havilland. If this is the case, fix this issue right the fuck now.
So. Why should you watch this absolute eye-buffet of wonder and dreams?
First of all it’s fucking gorgeous.
The production was over $2 million, which at the time was nothing to sneeze at. For 1938, it was the most expensive film WB ever produced, and it shows. Everything from the costuming, to the scenery, to the intricate matte paintings are like pieces of art themselves. Robin Hood was filmed completely in technicolor. So despite it coming out in a time of black and white, the entire movie was in full, beautiful color. To put it in some perspective, The Wizard of Oz came out just a year later.
I’m not the only one who thinks so, either. It was so well received when it came out, it won 3 out of 4 Oscars: Best Art Direction, Best Music, and Best Editing. In 1995, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the US Library of fuckin’ Congress.
Secondly, it’s got some fucking talent.
See this guy? See this handsome motherfucker right here? This is Errol Fucking Flynn. The Dread Pirate Roberts only wishes he was this charismatic.
Errol Flynn was the man who solidified the image of Robin Hood forever. He did for Robin Hood what Christopher Reeves did for Superman. Everything from his cadence, to his genius dialog, to the way he wears those tights, is the epitome of Rob of Locksley.
I MEAN LOOK
On top of Mr. Flynn here, you’ve got the great Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy (which, Sherlock fans should note, played Sherlock Holmes in the 1930′s films. Errol Flynn was cast in two pirate movies - Captain Blood and Sea Hawk. So Sherlock might never have gotten to be a pirate, but he was able to fight one)
The beautiful Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian Fitzwalter
And Claude Rains as the diabolical Prince John.
Now comes the fun part - it completely holds up today.
You might think that something like Robin Hood (especially an older movie) might be dated or dry. You, sir, are dead fucking wrong.
The fights are well choreographed and fun to watch.
When shit is tense, shit is motherfucking tense. You’re invested.
Secondly, and here comes the funsies: it has a socially progressive message in its story and characters.
Now on the one hand: duh, it’s Robin Hood. But think of how many ways a white hetero male in his early thirties winning the girl and being the underdog to come out on top at the end has been a masculine power trip. This is not the case here. Let’s go beat by beat.
First, let’s look at Robin Hood himself.
He’s already breaking the mold simply because of his backstory in the movie’s context.
Rob of Locksley is a nobleman. He comes from a family of power and wealth, and has the means to live comfortably, even in a time of great oppression. He gives it up, however, and instead risks his life and his lineage to help those without his social privileges. He never thinks himself above those with less, and outwardly challenges those with power instead of safely gaining their favor.
While he is a devilishly handsome, light-hearted hero, his motherly attentiveness and kind nature are traditionally “feminine” traits, which you would not see in most action heroes today. He is sympathetic without a “tragic backstory,” and can be serious without losing his sense of fun and adventure. He’s not just a man on a mission, he’s a character, and seeing his story is fun.
I’d also like to point out that while he is a Saxon noble, and many of the people he defends are Saxons oppressed by Normans, he holds no prejudice against Norman people in general, even caring for those Normans who have suffered from the hands of Prince John themselves.
“It’s injustice I hate, not the Normans.”
Secondly, let’s look at Maid Marian
In an era where the damsel in distress is not only common but expected, Maid Marian kicks those expectations in the motherfucking ballsack.
Yes, she is demure and soft and all things pretty, but she has a voice, and a pretty strong one at that. From the moment she meets Robin, she doesn’t hide the fact that she finds outlaws repulsive, and does not give him the false sense of politeness Prince John does. She, like Robin, is a noble. More than that, she is a royal ward of King Richard, thus giving her a status of power and immunity (mostly) that others do not.
The romance between Robin and Marian is only part of the reason Marian opens her eyes to the horrors Prince John has brought upon England. While in Sherwood Forest, she sees the treachery done to poor, innocent people that Robin now takes care of himself. That, in effect, brings her to the realization that to do nothing is just as bad as siding with those who oppress, maim and kill to begin with.
While she does face peril and is in need of a rescue by the very end, she’s not the only one. Half way through the film, Robin gets caught in a trap laid by Prince John (that he stupidly went into knowing it was a trap anyway because he thought it’d be fun).
Marian, wrought with grief and worry, risks her own safety and standing with the Normans and sneaks out to a tavern where Robin’s men are cooped up, trying to come up with a plan. She goes completely alone and unprotected, and begs the men to believe that her intentions are good. She gives them their plan to protect Robin from a hanging. This, ultimately, leads to her being caught by Sir Guy and imprisoned. But not before she gives an impassioned speech that I have memorized by heart:
“At first I wouldn’t believe. Because I was a Norman I wouldn’t let myself believe that the horrors you inflicted on the Saxons weren’t just and right. I know now why you want to kill this outlaw whom you despise. It’s because he was the one man in England who protected the helpless against those who were drunk on human blood. And now you intend to murder your own brother.”
“You’ll be sorry you interfered.”
“Sorry? I’d do it again if you killed me for it.”
It’s also fun to note that while Sir Guy is romantically inclined towards her in the beginning of the movie, it is not the leading message in his and Robin’s Rivalry. She’s not a prize to be won, or a piece of meat to be fought over like a couple of dogs. She is an integral part of the plot, so much so that while she would like nothing more than to live with Robin in Sherwood in happiness, she knows that she’d do more good behind enemy lines, risking her own safety on a daily basis in order to help keep the people of England safe.
Maid Marian isn’t a feeble woman for Robin Hood to rescue. They need each other equally, and rely on one another, which is what makes their romance so wonderful.
THE FUN BITS~!
AoRH passes the Bechdel Test
and this person
get together, and it’s the most adorable thing in the goddamn world.
Also, Robin has a sexually questionable effeminate cousin named Will Scarlet.
LOOK AT THIS BIG QUEER BABY I LOVE HIM