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Robin and Marian

Columbia Pictures/Sony Pictures Home Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 103 mins . PG . PAL


A monster cast brings the final chapter of the Robin Hood saga to the screen in a remarkably classy way. Set 20 years after the deeds that most made him famous (ousting Prince John, getting the girl, splitting the arrow, all that kind of stuff) it sees Robin still serving under Richard the Lionheart as they carve their way around Jerusalem. Upon Richard’s death and fed up with warring, Robin and hetero life partner Little John head for the green hills of England. Things aren’t as they were though, and Robin tracks down Marian for a few laughs. Along the way he gets into trouble with the Sheriff (again) and everything starts all over again (basically).

"The years… the years they whittle at you."

Sean Connery plays the ageing Robin with a confidence and brashness that describes well the Robin Hood of legend. Audrey Hepburn (apparently coming out of retirement for the role) is simply stunning as Marian, a foul-mouthed nun running a convent, and she delivers some of the funniest lines in the whole piece. While not a comedy per se, this does have its moments of brevity, but there is an eternal backstory running about the disadvantages of ageing, the loss of our youthful ideals and the pursuit of peace in a harsh time. Told in a modern way, these ideas are as relevant today as they were in Robin’s time, but the story still holds onto the era well. With a stable of veteran actors in key roles, this is a well told tale and one worthy of being added to the collection of great Robin Hood films.


Being an older film of 27 years, there are bound to be the usual artefacts and such, but while these do exist, they aren’t so bad and even contribute a little to the ‘dark ages’ setting. There is a funny iridescent blue circle midscreen at 35:23 which looks like it’s doing something technology wise, but shouldn’t have made the transition to DVD. A lot of the film suffers graininess, but there are also long bursts without any such grain. The shadows start out with excellent blacks early in the film, but have deteriorated to a dull mid grey by the end. There are a couple of clunky reel changes that have come across to DVD as picture shakes, but there are only one or two of these. As we enter the late quarter of the film, the night scene starts to pulse in the darkness from a deep grey to quite a washed out light grey. This lasts for roughly 90 seconds, off and on, and I was hard pressed to figure out what it was.


The musical score was composed by John Barry and tends to get a little melodramatic-romantic-’70s-telemovie, but I guess that was a style of the time. The music does come through just fine, though the levels between it and dialogue are sometimes a bit unbalanced. The dialogue gets a little too low at times, which is weird, so keep an ear on it or you may miss some good lines. Apart from that every sweary line from Audrey comes through great (and I don’t mean to say she swears all the time, we just get introduced to her as a hands-on kinda sister, salt of the earth, you know?). There are occasions of my arch nemesis, the Stock Footage Sound Effect, particularly with arrows swooshing in from offscreen and axes/swords hitting armour, but I guess I can live with it. Mostly fine sound though, but a little engineering would not have hurt in the least.


A pitiful band of bonuses that only includes Trailers for Robin and Marian and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. This last shows some great footage from this classic of adventure cinema, including bags of its award winning animation. But that’s all as far as extras go, unfortunately. Disappointing when you consider how much crap there must be about Robin Hood lying around.


This is a poignant, bittersweet yet romantic story set in a time when life was cheap. Portrayed magnificently by a large cast of notable actors, it has been well devised, well configured and well made. Sure the transfer could have been executed better, but the film itself is a wonderful story which - whilst bloody - is still mostly a family film that everyone will enjoy. I guess its kinda like a medieval Bridges of Madison County in that it’s about love the second time around, only this time from tired figures of history nearing the end of their days. Well worth it for Audrey Hepburn’s character alone, but the rest of the cast certainly sweeten the deal.

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      And I quote...
    "A medieval Bridges of Madison County with swordplay and blood and stuff..."
    - Jules Faber
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