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Customer Review

105 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dark and wistful take on Robin and Marian (VHS Edition), April 30, 2002
This review is from: Robin & Marian [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This film wonderfully directed by Richard Lester offers an entirely different take on the legendary characters of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. It is 1199, Robin and Little John, return to England, after King Richard the Lionheart's death during the siege of Châlus. Marian, who is an abbess now, is taken from Kirklees Abbey. Robin and his followers once more prepare to fight against the Sheriff of Nottingham, their old foe. As for the story I will refrain from saying anything else.

"Robin and Marian" is about ageing, accepting life as it is. Which is a far cry from the non-stop swashbuckling of "The Adventures of Robin Hood" with Errol Flynn. This film shows how everyone deals with the progress of time, but offers no judgement.

Sean Connery is splendid as the middle-aged Robin. With insight and passion he portrays a man who does not take well to the passage of time. Which is sometimes painful to behold. Audrey Hepburn shines, in what I think is certainly one of her most interesting performances. Her excellent Marian has wisdom, intelligence, spunk and a wistful touch. Her chemistry with Connery's Robin is brilliant. Their rekindled love is shown with a bittersweet, poignant tenderness. Which one does not see often on the screen, and Audrey Hepburn and Sean Connery certainly rise to the challenge. Of the other cast members Robert Shaw and Nicol Williamson stood out for me. Shaw's Sheriff is cunning but also fatherly (he has moved on but is still a match for Robin). And Williamson's Little John although staunchly loyal to Robin knows very well that things are over.

This film has a gritty, authentic medieval look, with the lovely locations of the forest to enjoy. A great soundtrack by John Barry also adds to its wistful mood. But the viewer gets a rather stereotypical portrayal of King John. The usual evil John of the legends. As well as that the film incorporates some interesting symbolism.

"Robin and Marian" does not destroy the legend of Robin Hood and Maid Marian. To me they became very realistic and infinitely more human. Not in the least because of the fantastic performances by Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. No matter what, the two lovers will always be together, in the hearts and minds of people. However this film does not compromise, ultimately leading to its downbeat and heartwrenching finale.
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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 11, 2009 10:07:30 AM PDT
I am deaf, and need to know if this DVD has captions. Can anyone help?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2009 7:19:57 PM PST
Andrew Smith says:
The copy I borrowed from the library had subtitles only.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 25, 2009 7:20:27 PM PST
[Deleted by the author on Nov 25, 2009 7:20:42 PM PST]

Posted on Mar 18, 2010 11:58:26 PM PDT
Thucydides says:
No major character in this film is even close to "old age." Sean Connery was all of 46 for pity's sake.

Posted on Jul 11, 2010 9:15:54 AM PDT
Patricia says:
Thanks for the cogent review, and for spelling "ageing" correctly at the beginning of paragraph 2!

("Say It Isn't So" Department): In some versions of the story, there is NO "Maid Marion" -- (!)...only a "Maid Marion DISGUISE" that Robin puts on, to fool the Sheriff of Nottingham. Does this have any historical validity?

Also -- is there a modern "Earl of Huntington" or "Sheriff of Nottingham" today?


Posted on Jul 11, 2010 9:19:30 AM PDT
Patricia says:
Definition of "Ageing" : (from Dr. Robert Schuller): "....Ageing is hardening of the ATTITUDES"!

Life Goal for Everyone : To die late as possible ! ( : (I read that somewhere, forget where...not original to me...but catchy!)

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2012 11:33:24 AM PDT
46 is pretty old for the 11th century.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 4, 2012 6:02:36 PM PDT
Thucydides says:
Actually, if you made it passed early childhood in those days, you could probably expect the biblical "three-score and ten." This is generally true in all temperate climates through to the 18th century which is when the average European life-span actually bottomed-out (according to the latest research).

And 1199 is the last year of the 12th century.

Posted on Oct 8, 2012 9:45:10 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 9, 2012 6:50:22 PM PDT
Thank you all for your comments, and my sincere apologies for responding only now.

Thucydides: I have felt for a long time that it could be defended to speak of old age for the characters in this film, keeping in mind hygiene, food, medical care, diseases, the climate's conditions and life expectancy in the 12th century and the Middle Ages in general. But you are in fact right and I was wrong which I should have realised, and I have revised my review to correct this (and I have also corrected some sentences which did not run well).

Patricia: In the very early medieval stories of Robin Hood he had no female companion. Marian was a separate character in the May Day Games and probably originated from the French tradition (for instance Adam de la Halle's "Le Jeu de Robin et Marion"). Maid Marian became associated with the Robin Hood narratives since the late 16th century. The Earl of Huntingdon still exists as well as the position of Sheriff of Nottingham. And for instance a reference to Robin as Earl of Huntington was given by Thomas Gale, Dean of York (ca.1635-1702). I very highly recommend the Robin of Sherwood: The Complete Collection series which features two different incarnations of Robin. Robin of Loxley (Michael Praed) and Robert of Huntingdon (Jason Connery, he is Sean's son).

Big Chris: Thucydides is right. For instance Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122 or 1124-1 April 1204) and William Marshal (1147-14 May 1219) really reached old age.

As to what David asked. My review concerns the VHS edition (which I have indicated now in its subject line). But it was submitted at a time when reviews were attached to both the DVD- and VHS editions and not separated by Amazon.


In reply to an earlier post on Apr 4, 2013 5:39:20 AM PDT
Sorry to be pendantic, but Thucydides is wrong about one thing when he writes "And 1199 is the last year of the 12th century." as 1199 is actually the second to last year of the 12th Century as the actual last year was 1200 (as the calendar starts at 1AD or 1CE and not at 0AD/0CE). People always think of decades, centuries and millennium as starting on a rounded number now but this incorrect. The 20th Century officially started on 1st January 1901 (this was celebrated in almost all countries as the start of a new century) and thus the "millennium" celebrations in 2000 were an over-hyped era which would have made the 20th Century to sort by one year.

As for the review, it is a good one. And I agree with Stardustraven's view that it doesn't destroy the legend; and though it differs from the myths its slightly melancholy approach actually is (to my mind) truer to the earlier ballads than a lot of other Robin Hood derived films.
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