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Robin Hood (1973 film)

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Robin Hood is one of Walt Disney Production's animated features, which was released on November 1973 and is based on the famous 13th Century left-wing hero, known for robbing the rich to give to the poor. In this version, wild animals portray the roles of the characters.

Despite Walt Disney's accusations in regards to right-wing policies, Robin Hood, alongside Disney's other films including Mary Poppins, The Rescuers, Pocahontas and The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, is regarded as one of Disney's left-wing projects.

Despite mild reviews, Robin Hood was a box office success on it's release.

SynopsisEdit

The film is narrated by Alan-A-Dale. He introduces Robin Hood and his sidekick Little John on their adventures; robbing the rich their money to give to the poor townsfolk in Nottingham. The Sheriff Of Nottingham and his henchmen attempt to thwart Robin and Little John's missions, but fail each time.

One day, Robin and Little John encounter a royal coach, transporting Prince John to central Nottingham. Knowing the amount of money he has, they disguise themselves as fortune tellers. Prince John falls for it and invites them in his wagon, despite his servant, Sir Hiss', brief objections. While Prince John is distracted by Robin's fortunes, he and Little John, still in disguise, sneaks the money out of the wagon, unaware that Sir Hiss is aware. Robin and Little John escape with the money. Prince John discovers the robbery and orders his army after them. They clumsily destroy the wagon leaving Prince John distraught and lashing out at Hiss.

Meanwhile, The Sheriff of Nottingham, who is working as Prince John's personal tax collecter wanders around Sherwood Forest and starts by collecting 'taxes' from Friar Tuck (money which he hid in Otto's leg cast) and from Mother Rabbit's family, including her son Skippy's birthday money. Robin arrives in disguise as a blind man attempting to give a can of money to the poor, which too is stolen by the Sheriff. He gives Skippy his spare bow and arrow and hat as gifts, which Skippy and his friends try out (and sneaks a bag of money to the family. While playing outside, Skippy, along with Toby, Tagalong and Sis, meet Maid Marian and Lady Kluck. Maid Marian observes Skippy's items and remembers Robin Hood, who is her old boyfriend from her childhood. Robin also thinks about Maid Marian. Soon, he is approached by Friar Tuck who announces Prince John's archery tournament and that whoever wins the tournament wins a kiss from Maid Marian.

The next day, Robin participates, but disguises himself as a stork, knowing that he may be captured. Maid Marian recognises Robin Hood and so does Sir Hiss, who is dumped in a barrel of ale by Friar Tuck before he can inform Prince John. Robin wins the tournament, but his identity is exposed and Prince John has him arrested and sentenced to death. Little John threatens the Prince and he reluctantly lets him go. This leads to a fight between Robin, assisted by Little John, Kluck, Marian and Skippy, and Prince John, assisted by his soldiers. Robin wins the fight, but Prince John continues the war.

Robin and Marian meet in the forest and fall in love once again. They meet the townsfolk who congradulate Robin and mock Prince John with their protest song 'The Phony King Of England'. Unfortunately, The Sheriff and Hiss have listened in and they inform Prince John. Furious, the Prince begins another harsh tax policy; pay double taxes or jail. As a result, most of the townsfolk are arrested. Friar Tuck becomes the most recent prisoner and Prince John arranges him to be hanged. Robin in his usual disguise discovers this and he and Little John think of a plan.

That night, Robin and Little John cautiously sneak into Prince John's heavily guarded castle. Robin sneaks into Prince John's bedroom which is filled with bags of money, while Little John sneaks into the jail. They create a washing line with an arrow and rope and Robin attaches the money bags to the line and winds them to the prisoners. Just as Robin attaches the last money bag, Sir Hiss awakens and notices. Chaos follows as Prince John also awakens and his army chase Robin, Little John and the prisoners. Little John and the residents, including Friar Tuck, escape, but Robin is cornered, so he must find another way out of the castle. He and The Sheriff incinerate the castle and Robin leaps from the tower into the moat. As Little John and Skippy watch the action from outside the castle, Prince John orders his archers to gun down Robin. The arrows fly and Robin plunges. Little John and Skippy see a hat struck by an arrow. They and Prince John think Robin has been killed. The Prince cheers while Little John and Skippy mourn, until they discover that Robin, with a reed in his mouth, has survived, without his hat. Prince John despairs and lashes out at Hiss, chasing him in the burning castle.

The film ends with Prince John and his cohorts arrested and the townsfolk cheering as Robin and Marian marry. They leave for their honeymoon, with Little John and Skippy in tow. Also King Richard returns to Nottingham to reclaim the throne.

Production DetailsEdit

Details Participants
Produced/Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman
Screenplay by Larry Clemmons
Story by Ken Anderson
Music by

George Bruns (score)

Roger Miller, Johnny Mercer, Floyd Huddleston (songs)

Studio Walt Disney Productions
Distributed by Buena Vista Distribution
Release date November 8, 1973
Runtime 83 minutes
Country of production USA
Language English
Color Technicolor
Genre(s)

Action

Adventure

Animation

Comedy

Historical

Romance

ProductionEdit

Robin Hood was produced with a small budget. As a result, the film contains recycled footage from Disney's previous animated features including Snow White And The Seven Dwarves, The Jungle Book and The Aristocats. Perhaps one of the most obvious examples is the fact that Phil Harris voices a bear the second time (the first being that he voice Baloo in the Jungle Book).

Robin Hood is known to feature anthropomorphic animals instead of humans as demonstrated by the cast table below;

CastEdit

Voice Actor Character(s) Breed Description
Brian Bedford Robin Hood Fox The main protagonist and leader of Merry Men who rebels against the Prince John's forces and gets on really well with the poor
Monica Evans Maid Marian Vixen Robin Hood's childhood girlfriend. She wins his heart after the archery tournament and they propose straight after.
Phil Harris Little John Bear Robin Hood's best friend who appears more cautious compared to Robin.
Roger Miller Alan-A-Dale Rooster The narrator among Robin Hood's Merry-Men. Often seen strumming his guitar.
Andy Devine Friar Tuck Badger The priest among Robin Hood's Merry-Men. Although he takes his religious duties seriously, he is one time seem blaspheming ('Thank God, my prayers have been answered')
Peter Ustinov

Prince John

King Richard

Lions

PJ: The conservative monarch who takes over while KR is fighting the Crusades and Robin Hood's arch-enemy. He is portrayed as immature and prone to temper tantrums. He often sucks his thumb when Hiss mentions his mother.

KR: John's left-wing brother and the original king. He is know to be a friend of the townsfolk and only appears at the end of the film, seen sharing a joke with Friar Tuck.

Terry-Thomas Sir Hiss Snake Prince John's innocent, but equally right-wing servant. He often speaks to the Prince as if he is stupid, but gets frightened of him when the Prince lashes out at him.
Carole Shelley Lady Kluck Hen Maid Marian's attendent. She shows a strong dislike to Prince John and sometimes mimicks him.
Pat Buttram The Sheriff Of Nottingham Wolf Works as Prince John's personal tax collector. Whilst collecting the taxes from the poor (which seems to be his hobby), he pretends to sympathise with them, but neither hide their dislike, especially Friar Tuck.
Ken Curtis Nutsy Vulture Works as a guard in Prince John's castle.
George Lindsey Trigger Vulture Also works as a guard in Prince John's castle.
John Fiedler The sexton Mouse Works with Friar Tuck and is seen playing the organ in the church.
Barbara Luddy

The sexton's wife

Mother Rabbit

SW: Mouse

MR: Rabbit

SW: Works with Friar Tuck and is seen brushing the floor.

MR: The mother of Skippy, Tagalong and Sis. Her family are among the victims who get robbed by the Sheriff.

Billy Whittaker Skippy Rabbit Mother Rabbit's seven year old son. He idolises Robin Hood and senses little fear in Prince John.
Dana Laurita Sis Rabbit Skippy's older sister.
Dori Whittaker Tagalong Rabbit Skippy's younger sister.
Richie Sanders Toby Turtle Skippy's friend who joins him, Sis and Tagalong when they meet Marian. He senses fear in Prince John.
Candy Candido Captain Crocodile Crocodile Works for Prince John and hosts the archery tournament.
J. Pat O'Malley Otto Bloodhound Friar Tuck's friend. He has an injury on his right leg.

ReceptionEdit

Reviews for Robin Hood are generally mild. Based on 22 reviews on the RottonTomatoes website, the film has a 55% rating. British TV guide, The Radio Times, rates the film 4 out of 5 stars.

On it's release, Robin Hood was a box office success. It grossed approximately $17,160,000 domestically and $32,056,467 worldwide over a $15 million budget (including the recycled material).

The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song (Love), but lost to the theme tune of The Way We Were.

Political themesEdit

Although Walt Disney had long faced accusations of being a racist and been a member of a right-wing based group, Robin Hood is one of Disney films that does not relate to any of those themes. The film may not be historically accurate, but it contains themes of political correctness.

Because this film is based on Robin Hood, the protagonist and his associates are represented as the left-wingers, whilst Prince John and his side are depicted as the right-wingers. Right-wing parties including the British Conservative party have been known to give millionnaires a tax cut and raise taxes for the working class; in a nutshell 'rob the poor to feed the rich'. This is exactly what Prince John did and does in this film. This creates a capitalist personality within Prince John.

Left-wingers tend to rebel against the conservatives' policies and decide that something must be done to solve the crisis. That is the category where Robin Hood, Little John and the poorer part of townsfolk fit in. Also they show signs of respect for King Richard, another left-winger. In the scene where Robin Hood is arrested, he protests to Prince John; "That crown belongs to King Richard. LONG LIVE KING RICHARD!" followed by a cheering crowd who join in with him.

One of the obvious signs that demonstrates anti-conservatism is Little John's rendition of 'The Phony King Of England', which attacks Prince John and his policies. Lyrics nickname him 'John The Worst' (rhyming with 'John The First'), make fun of his immature attitude ('He throws an angry tantrum if he cannot have his way/And then he calls for mom/While he's sucking his thumb/You see, he doesn't want to play') and swears revenge on him for the good of the working class ('We'll find a way to make him pay and steal our money back').

Another element considered radical is that Maid Marian is King Richard's niece (Lady Kluck states to Marian; "your uncle King Richard will have an outlaw for an inlaw."). In this film, Marian is a fox and Richard is a lion. Though it is a cartoon, it could be that their older relatives consisted of a fox and a lion who had a petting relationship. This goes against the traditional 'birds of a feather should flock together' rule, which the conservatives would usually stick to.

Among Disney's other left-wing films include;

  • Mary Poppins (1964)
  • The Rescuers (1977)
  • Aladdin (1992)
  • Pocahontas (1995)
  • The Hunchback Of Notre Dame (1996)
  • Mulan (1998)

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