Thursday, February 2, 2012

Robbing the Rich and Giving to the Poor

When I was in high school, I only received two As in gym class--yes, we were graded for our performance, not just for showing up to class in our gym clothes.  One of the As was for gymnastics, the other for archery.  Many years later--I won't say how many--my son took an after-school archery class.  On the last day of class, the instructor had the parents engage in a competition with their kids and each other.  We were to shoot an arrow right into the center of a pumpkin, the spot marked by the instructor.  We were given two chances.  My first arrow hit right into the pumpkin's bulls-eye to the approving nod of the instructor.  My second arrow didn't stick, as it landed right atop the first arrow.  As I seem to be a natural at the sport, I sometimes think I would have been right at home in Sherwood Forest.

And that, perhaps, is part of the reason I love the legend of Robin Hood.  (That and his socialist stealing from the rich to feed the poor.)  Of the Robin Hood movies, my favorite hands down is Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves.  Sure, Errol Flynn brings a joie de vive to his Robin Hood, but the 1938 movie just isn't as exciting, nor as humorous, as the 1991 version.  And, yes, I know that Kevin Costner's English accent is nonexistent.  And I know that there was no Moor in the original stories, but, hey, it's Morgan Freeman.  Plus, I like the way the movie uses the Moor to build on the original legend, which is in keeping with the tradition of storytelling:  As the story gets retold, new elements are added on.  Whether or not you like Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves, you might really get a kick out of Mel Brooks' 1993 spoof of it:  Robin Hood:  Men in Tights.  Also worth noting is the 1973 Disney animated version, which my daughter and I watched a couple of dozen times when she was two.  I still hear Phil Harris's voice when I read dialog by Little John.

The best and most accessible Robin Hood book is Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, an excellent retelling of the Sherwood Forest bandits for middle school students.  As in the movies, you'll find Robin Hood, Little John, Maid Marian, Will Scarlett, Friar Tuck, and the nefarious Sheriff of Nottingham.

To order the book and movies from Amazon, click on the following links:
The Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
Robin Hood (Disney Gold Classic Collection) (1973)
Robin Hood - Prince of Thieves (Two-Disc Special Extended Edition) (1991)
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (Extended Version) [Blu-ray] (1991)
Robin Hood - Men in Tights (1993)
Robin Hood: Men in Tights [Blu-ray] (1993)

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