Robin and Marian
|Robin and Marian|
|Directed by||Richard Lester|
|Produced by||Dennis O'Dell
|Written by||James Goldman|
|Music by||John Barry|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|March 11, 1976|
Robin and Marian is a 1976 British-American romantic adventure period film from Columbia Pictures, shot in Panavision and Technicolor, that was directed by Richard Lester and written by James Goldman, based on 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, and Richard Harris as Richard the Lionheart. It also features comedian Ronnie Barker in a rare film role as Friar Tuck. Robin and Marian was filmed in Zamora, Spain and marked Hepburn's return to the screen after an eight-year absence.
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 was to have originally been titled The Death of Robin Hood but was changed by Columbia Pictures to be more marketable, and perhaps give equal billing to Hepburn.
An aging Robin Hood (Sean Connery) is a trusted captain fighting for King Richard the Lionheart (Harris) in France, the Crusades long over. Richard orders him to take a castle that is rumoured to hold a gold statue. Discovering that it is defended by a solitary, one-eyed old man (Esmond Knight) who is sheltering harmless women and children, and convinced that there is no statue, Robin and his right-hand man, Little John (Nicol Williamson), refuse to attack. King Richard (Richard Harris), angry at their insubordination, orders the pair's execution, but before his orders can be carried out, he is mortally wounded by an arrow thrown by the old man. Richard has the helpless residents massacred, with the exception of the old man, because Richard likes his eye; it also turns out that there never was a gold statue. The King offers to let Robin beg for his life. When Robin refuses, Richard draws his sword, but lacks the strength to strike him and falls to the floor. Robin helps him, and moved by his loyalty, with his last words, Richard frees Robin and Little John.
After Richard's death, Robin and Little John return to England and are reunited with old friends Will Scarlet (Denholm Elliott) and Friar Tuck (Ronnie Barker) in Sherwood Forest. When Robin casually inquires about Maid Marian (Audrey Hepburn), they tell him she has become an abbess. When he goes to see her, she finds him as impossible as ever. He learns that his old nemesis, the Sheriff of Nottingham (Robert Shaw), has ordered her arrest in response to the King's order to expel senior leaders of the Roman Catholic Church from England.
Marian wants no trouble, but Robin rescues her against her will, injuring Sir Ranulf (Kenneth Haigh), the Sheriff's arrogant guest, in the process. Ignoring the Sheriff's warnings, Sir Ranulf pursues Robin into the forest. His men are ambushed and devastated by arrows; Sir Ranulf is left unharmed only because Robin orders him spared. When the news of Robin's return spreads, old comrades and new recruits rally once more to him. Sir Ranulf asks King John (Ian Holm) for 200 soldiers to deal with Robin.
The Sheriff waits in the open fields beyond the Forest, knowing Robin will attack. When Robin does, he proposes that he and the Sheriff duel to settle the issue, despite the protests of Sir Ranulf. Despite Robin appearing to have superior skills at the start of the fight, it soon becomes clear that the Sheriff is surprisingly in fact far superior to Robin, and more than a match for Robin. More agile and resistant, the Sheriff begins dominating Robin in the fight. Eventually the Sheriff has the wounded Robin at his mercy and demands his surrender. Refusing, Robin manages to kill the Sheriff with the last of his strength. Led by Sir Ranulf, the soldiers attack and scatter Robin's ragtag band, many of whom are captured or killed. Little John swiftly kills Sir Ranulf. Then he and Marian take Robin to her abbey, where she keeps her medicine.
Robin believes he will recover to win future battles. Little John stands guard outside while Marian tends to Robin's wounds. Marian prepares a draft and takes a drink of it herself before giving it to Robin. He drinks the medicine and notes that the pain has gone away and his legs have gone numb. Then, realizing that she has poisoned them both, he cries out for Little John. However, he comes to understand that Marian has acted out of love because he would never be the same man again. She tells him:
I love you. More than all you know. I love you more than children. More than fields I've planted with my hands. I love you more than morning prayers or peace or food to eat. I love you more than sunlight, more than flesh or joy, or one more day. I love you...more than God.
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, and tells him to bury them both where it lands. The arrow soars out of the window into the distance. Apples are seen decaying on the windowsill.
- Sean Connery as Robin Hood
- Audrey Hepburn as Lady Marian
- Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham
- Nicol Williamson as Little John
- Richard Harris as Richard the Lionheart
- Denholm Elliott as Will Scarlet
- Ronnie Barker as Friar Tuck
- Kenneth Haigh as Sir Ranulf de Pudsey
- Ian Holm as King John
- Bill Maynard as Mercadier
- Esmond Knight as Old Defender
- Veronica Quilligan as Sister Mary
- Peter Butterworth as Surgeon
- John Barrett as Jack
- Kenneth Cranham as Jack's Apprentice
- Victoria Abril as Queen Isabella
Roger Ebert was positive towards Connery and Hepburn as Robin and Marian, although he was uncertain about "history repeating itself" in regards 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." He also approved of the film's cinematography in comparison 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".
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
- Watters, Jim (12 April 1976). "The Voice, The Neck, The Charm". Cover Story. People. Vol. 5 no. 14.
- p.178 Norwich, Brahm Dilemmas of Difference, Inclusion and Disability: International Perspectives and Future Directions Routledge, 2008
- Chicago Sun-Times review by Roger Ebert , April 21, 1976, Retrieved on July 7, 2008
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.