One of my Christmas gifts this year was a copy of the movie “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” on DVD. This movie has been one of my absolute favorites ever since it came out when I was in high school. Maybe is is a bit melodramatic, too violent, and has some glaring historical inaccuracies, but I don’t care. I adore it.
There are certainly a few elements that I could do without — like the creepy witch (who adds almost nothing to the story line), the nude waterfall scene (although you really don’t see much of anything), and Kevin Costner’s lack of a decent British accent (one of his first lines in the movie is “This is English courage,” spoken in his American accent). But I was thinking today about the things I like best about the movie, and here they are, in no particular order:
- Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham. Seriously, Rickman plays the best bad guy (he also did total justice to the character of Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies). The Sheriff is the kind of character you just love to hate. He’s power-hungry and evil and sleazy. And he has some pretty memorable lines, like “I’m gonna cut your heart out with a spoon,” and “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans. No more merciful beheadings. And call off Christmas!”
- Morgan Freeman as Azeem. If you can forget the fact that his character is almost completely impossible given the historical context, he really adds a lot to the film. There are some pretty humorous interactions between Azeem and Robin Hood. At the end of the movie, he gives the speech that inspires the people of Nottingham to revolt. And he throws a sword across a room like it was knife! So, he’s pretty awesome. Mostly, I like that an Arab is portrayed in film as noble and educated rather than a barbarian.
- The portrayal of Maid Marian as a strong, courageous, and independent woman rather than a damsel in distress. Well, I suppose by the end of the movie, she was pretty much a damsel in distress, so I guess I’m referring to her character prior to being kidnapped by the Sheriff. She lives alone; she travels alone; she can use a sword; and she undertakes to get word to King Richard about Nottingham’s plot to seize his throne, at the risk of her own life.
- The portrayal of Robin Hood not as a cocky young adventurer, but as a nobleman’s son, changed by his years as a Crusader and then a prisoner of war. I liked that Costner played an “older” Robin Hood. He was criticized harshly for his acting in this movie, but I thought his performance, while understated, was still very good. Of course, next to Rickman’s flamboyance, I suppose anything would seem understated.
- The soundtrack. It’s one of my favorite movie soundtracks and gives me chills every time I hear it. Powerful and epic, but at the same time tender and romantic. I’m not a big fan of Bryan Adams (his voice is too raspy), but I do like his song “Everything I Do, I Do It For You,” that plays during the ending credits.
For me, this is just one of those movies that never gets old. I could watch it again and again, and still enjoy it just as much as I did when it first came out… over 20 years ago (really?!).