MOVIE REVIEW | Robin Hood (1973)

Robin Hood

“You know somethin’, Robin, I was just wonderin’, are we good guys or bad guys? You know, I mean, uh? Our robbin’ the rich to feed the poor.”

There are some stories that have been made enough times now that I really don’t think we ever need another movie adaptation. All the big Shakespeare plays most of us can name off the top of our head?   We have enough faithful adaptations and weird modernisations to see us through until apes destroy humanity. Great Expectations is another one that never needs to be committed to film again. Not because it’s a bad or boring story, but because there’s a version out there to suit every movie watching sensibility.

There is however, an exception to this rule when it comes to overdone, burnt out stories. If Disney wants to give it the animated treatment, than that’s A-OK with me. Even if it’s a story as oft told as Robin Hood. I’m at the perfect age where I still like Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Well, at least I think I like it. I haven’t seen it in porbably15 years, but I used to love it back then. I had zero interest in the Russell Crowe version few years ago. But I have no idea why I never saw the 70s Disney version when I was a kid, or since. Until now.

While the good King Richard is off fighting the Crusades, his greedy, mamma’s boy brother, Prince John (a lion) is plundering England in the name of the crown. With the sycophantic Sir Hiss (a snake) and the ruthless Sherriff of Nottingham (a wolf) on his side, he’s taxing the bejesus out of every dog, rabbit and whatever other anthropomorphized animal ol’ Walt throws at us.

Their only hope is the plucky Robin Hood (a fox) and his band of merry men. Here, represented but Little John (a bear) and Friar Tuck (a badger). But Robin also has someone on the inside, Maid Marian (a fox), his childhood girlfriend who still lives in the castle. Hearing tales of Robin’s robbing from the rich and giving to the poor has only made her all the more randy. With a bounty on his head, Robin goes after the money, the girl and the glory.

Technical quality wise, you can see that this is Disney trying to save a few bucks. Some pieces of animation are obviously recycled and reused throughout, and it never looks anything like as smooth and fluid as the prestige Disney work of the 40s and 50s in movies like Bambi and Cinderella. But you can see that they took that into account while making Robin Hood. Its slightly scrungier look perfectly fits the forest, rebel feel of the story.

Animals aside, this is a pretty faithful telling of the Robin Hood story as I understand it. It leaves out the odd character and ads a silly little subplot about a bunch of kids who idolise Robin, but I found the changes mostly worked for the better. Ultimately, it’s a Disney cartoon for kids, so I liked the lightness and silliness that run throughout. Disney has a knack for turning cheesy or corny into innocent, heart felt fun. And Robin Hood is a great example of that in action.

Robin Hood
Directed By – Wolfgang Reitherman
Written By – Larry Clemmons

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