Robin and Marian

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Robin and Marian
Theatrical release poster
by Drew Struzan
Directed byRichard Lester
Written byJames Goldman
Produced byDenis O'Dell
Richard Shepherd
Ray Stark
CinematographyDavid Watkin
Music byJohn Barry
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • March 11, 1976 (1976-03-11)
Running time
106 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
Budget$5 million

Robin and Marian is a 1976 romantic adventure film from Columbia Pictures, shot in Panavision and Technicolor, that was directed by Richard Lester and written by James Goldman after the legend of Robin Hood. The film stars Sean Connery as Robin Hood, Audrey Hepburn as Lady Marian, Nicol Williamson as Little John, Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Richard Harris as Richard the Lionheart, and Denholm Elliott as Will Scarlet. It also features comedian Ronnie Barker in a rare film role as Friar Tuck. Robin and Marian was filmed in Zamora, as well as Artajona, Urbasa, Quinto Real and Orgi, all small medieval villages in Navarre, Spain. It marked Hepburn's return to the screen after an eight-year absence.[1]

Lester made Robin and Marian amid a series of period pieces, including The Three Musketeers (1973). The original music score was composed by John Barry. The film originally was titled The Death of Robin Hood but was changed by Columbia Pictures to be more marketable,[2] and perhaps give equal billing to Hepburn.

It is the only theatrical film based on the Robin Hood legend that makes use of a very old story (found in A Gest of Robyn Hode)[citation needed] depicting his murder at the hands of a prioress he was related to but turns the legend on its head by making Marian the prioress, and making it an act of love, not betrayal.


An ageing Robin Hood has been a trusted captain fighting for King Richard the Lionheart for twenty years and is now in France, the Third Crusade over. Richard orders him to take a castle which is rumoured to hold a gold statue. Discovering that it is defended by a solitary, one-eyed old man who is sheltering women and children, and being told the statue is worthless stone, Robin and his right-hand man, Little John, refuse to attack. King Richard, angry, orders the pair's execution and the castle attacked, but is wounded with an arrow by the old man. Richard has the helpless residents massacred, with the exception of the old man, because Richard likes his eye. Mortally wounded, the King offers to let Robin beg for his life. When Robin refuses, Richard draws his sword, lacks the strength to strike him and falls. Robin helps the dying king and, moved by his loyalty, Richard frees Robin and Little John.

The two return to England and reunite with old friends Will Scarlet and Friar Tuck in Sherwood Forest. He hears his exploits have become legendary. When Robin inquires about Maid Marian, they tell him where she lives. When he goes to see her, she finds him as impossible as ever, while he discovers she has become an abbess. He learns that his old nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham, has ordered her arrest in response to King John's order to expel senior leaders of the Roman Catholic Church from England.

When the sheriff comes to arrest Marian, Robin rescues her against her will, striking Sir Ranulf, the sheriff's arrogant guest, in the process. He also rescues the nuns, who have been locked in the sheriff's castle. Ignoring the Sheriff's warnings, Sir Ranulf pursues Robin into the forest. His men are ambushed and a number killed by arrows, but Sir Ranulf is spared by Robin. When the news of Robin's return spreads, old comrades and new recruits rally to him. Sir Ranulf asks King John for 200 soldiers to deal with him.

The sheriff waits in the fields outside the forest, knowing Robin will be unable to resist indefinitely the temptation to attack. When Robin emerges, he proposes that he and the sheriff settle the issue by single combat. Eventually, the sheriff has the wounded Robin at his mercy and demands his surrender. Refusing, Robin kills the sheriff with the last of his strength. Led by Sir Ranulf, the soldiers attack Robin's ragtag band, many of whom are captured or killed. Will Scarlet and Friar Tuck are captured but Little John kills Sir Ranulf. John and Marian take Robin to her abbey, where she keeps her medicine.

Robin believes he will recover to win future battles. Marian prepares a draught of medicine and drinks some herself before giving it to him. He drinks it and realizes that the pain has gone away and his legs have gone numb. Realizing Marian has poisoned them both, he cries out for Little John. Marian talks to him about how much she loves him. He sees that he would never have recovered, and Marian has committed an act of mercy. Robin and Marian try to touch each other's hands as Little John crashes through the door and weeps at Robin's bedside. Robin asks Little John for his bow and shoots an arrow from his deathbed through the open window; he asks Little John to bury them both where it lands.



The film generally received positive reviews by critics on its release. On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 73% of 37 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 6.7/10. The website's consensus reads: "Robin and Marian gives the legendary characters a somber sendoff, finding ample success in the romantic chemistry between Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn while yielding diminishing returns in its attempts at relevant satire."[3]

Roger Ebert was positive towards Connery and Hepburn as Robin and Marian, although he was uncertain about "history repeating itself" in regard to the plot. According to Ebert, "What prevents the movie from really losing its way, though, are the performances of Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn in the title roles. No matter what the director and the writer may think, Connery and Hepburn seem to have arrived at a tacit understanding between themselves about their characters. They glow. They really do seem in love. And they project as marvelously complex, fond, tender people; the passage of 20 years has given them grace and wisdom."[4] He also approved of the film's cinematography when compared to early films of the genre, noting that "Lester photographs them with more restraint than he might have used 10 years ago. His active camera is replaced here by a visual tempo more suited to bittersweet nostalgia. He photographs Sherwood Forest and its characters with a nice off-hand realism that's better than the pretentious solemnity we sometimes get in historical pictures".[4] Time Out also gave the film a positive review. Time Out stated "There are quite a few typical Lester gags on the fringes of its tale...but the movie is conceived and executed in an elegiac key (not unlike Siegel's The Shootist), and played with an unfashionable depth of feeling (especially by Connery and Hepburn, both terrific)".[5]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Watters, Jim (12 April 1976). "The Voice, The Neck, The Charm". Cover Story. People. Vol. 5, no. 14.
  2. ^ p.178 Norwich, Brahm Dilemmas of Difference, Inclusion and Disability: International Perspectives and Future Directions Routledge, 2008
  3. ^ "Robin and Marian". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 17 December 2023. Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ a b Chicago Sun-Times review by Roger Ebert, April 21, 1976, Retrieved on 1 May, 2020
  5. ^ "Robin and Marian". Time Out Magazine. Retrieved 19 June 2021.
  6. ^ "AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.

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