1973; Rated G; 83 Minutes
Roger Miller: Allan-A-Dale
Brian Bedford: Robin Hood
Monica Evans: Maid Marian
Phil Harris: Little John
Andy Devine: Friar Tuck
Carole Shelley: Lady Kluck
Peter Ustinov: Prince John
Terry-Thomas: Sir Hiss
Pat Buttram: Sheriff
George Lindsey: Trigger
Ken Curtis: Nutsy
Produced by Wolfgang
Reitherman; Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman; Screenwritten
by Larry Clemmons
by DAVID KEYES
notice that Disney's animated version of "Robin Hood" gets
three stars. There are three main reasons why it gets this
rating; one, the film is more memorable than the previous
animated features, "The Jungle Book" and "The Aristocats";
two, it has touches of humor, which those previous films
severely lacked; and three, the film follows a uniquely
built plot, which is severely modified from the original
(as I've heard) to suit and entertain its target audience:
I enjoyed "Robin Hood" more than the other animated features
of that time, I give it three stars, instead of the regular
two-and-a-half stars that "The Jungle Book" and "The Aristocats"
deserved. This does not necessarily mean that "Robin Hood"
is a great film, but it doesn't mean it's standard Disney,
good for that time period from which the Disney studios
were struggling to make good animated pictures. "The Jungle
Book," and "The Aristocats," two predecessors of the genre,
were severely weak in the department, and were not the studios
best efforts. "Robin Hood," perhaps, is an improvement because
the studio may have been aware more of what they were doing.
film, taken from the famous legend, is indeed "Disney-fied,"
and is told through the point of view of animals. The film
also has a singing narrator, who performs songs at moments
when the plot seems somewhat climactic. These scenes grab
our attention, especially when the picture is in the same
mood as its songs.
example, this narrator, who is a rooster voiced by Roger
Miller, sings a song about how Nottingham will never have
happiness again. This sad tune is performed when the day
is rainy, and everyone is in jail for not paying taxes.
like this are upsetting for little children, and it's with
these intentions why "Robin Hood" stands out from the other
animated features of that era, though the film does lack
the fun and memorable charm of an animated classic.
obviously remember the original story. Robin Hood, the outlaw
of England, robs the rich to feed the poor, during the time
of which King Richard is off on a crusade and his brother,
Prince John, usurps the crown.
film needs Robin Hood as much as it needs the narrator--they
are the most important characters, and a loss of either
one of them would modify the story so greatly that it just
wouldn't be Robin Hood. I don't know if the narrator was
in the original novel, but if he wasn't than I can sense
why people say there is a huge difference between the movie
and the real story.
Hood himself is well voiced by Brian Bedford. He ranks as
one of the top Disney heroes, because his overall performance
as a needed-outlaw is very well demonstrated, and the film
sets him up not only as the main character, but as a brave
soul, capable of nearly anything.
one scene, for example, he dresses as a beggar, and approaches
the Sheriff of Nottingham to learn that at dawn, Prince
John is going to have Friar Tuck, the man of the church,
hung for treason to the crown. Robin then vows to prevent
it from happening.
doesn't know, however, that hanging Friar Tuck is actually
a trap to capture him as well. Still, even after figuring
this plot out, he risks everything to save the Friar's skin,
as well as everyone else who is in jail for not paying taxes.
He doesn't come unprepared, either: he takes all the necessary
precautions to save his skin as well.
more male characters were as heroic and wise as Robin Hood,
today's animated features, like "Aladdin," would have been
better. Aladdin, for example, didn't think before he jumped
into battle. His character was just as foolish as his name.
Why, for example, would he ever challenge Jafar with a sword,
when he knew the Genie (as well as the others) couldn't
help him, and Jafar was an invincible sorcerer at the time?
so many animated films, "Robin Hood" also comes with comedy
relief. Most of the humor, however, doesn't come with any
of the main characters, but rather, the two villains: Prince
John and Sir Hiss, a lion and a snake. Prince John's plots
to capture Robin Hood, as said by his assistant, Hiss, are
foolish and a waste of time. He exclaims "I tried to tell
you this would happen, but no no no, you wouldn't listen!"
These lines come up after John's plots backfire, and instead
of admitting that he was wrong, he hits Hiss with whatever
objects are around. These scenes are funny, especially when
Hiss brings up that John just ruined one of his mother's
see, Prince John, earlier in the film, told Hiss that he
was somewhat neglected from his mother, and anytime someone
mentions her, he calls "Mommy!" and sucks his thumb. And
he does--all the time.
scenes are very funny when they occur, because they occur
more than once, and once we are used to them occurring,
we can't wait until they happen again. It's really funny,
watching a grown lion like John, calling for "Mommy," and
sucking on his thumb. That stuff is just plain cute and
story, as most argue, follows none of the original that
well, mainly because the picture is filmed with animals
instead of humans in the character roles. Children, however,
like watching animals more than humans, and I think maybe
Disney preferred the idea of animals in human roles, because
little kids are mainly the ones who like these films. There
is nothing wrong with modifying the story and the characters,
because children, of which the movie is aimed at, will understand
and enjoy it better.
about it: would you rather watch humans or animals in an
animated picture? Animals are more cuter and more memorable
than human characters. In fact, most Disney classics are
those that feature animals.
in movies are more enjoyable for little kids, and for that
reason, I feel "Robin Hood" with thoroughly entertain them.
For the adult audience, however, "Robin Hood" might just
seem pleasant rather than fantastic. Still, the film is
playful, cute, and very fun, and that will be enough for
kids. Though the movie is no Disney classic, it's still
a worthy effort.
1998, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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