Robin Hood Prince of Thieves is on TV, and I’m getting all misty-eyed.
Here’s the trailer and, yes, voice-over man really does start by saying “It was a time of waaaaar…”
This is a much maligned movie: the myriad, wandering accents, the glaring historical inaccuracies, the poor grasp of British geography, Costner’s mullet, the dodgy attempted-marital-rape-done-for-laughs scene, and last but by no means least, that bloody song… As anyone who was alive with any degree of hearing will tell you, you couldn’t turn on the radio that summer without Mr. Adams’ gravelly tones imploring that everything he was doing was indeed solely for your benefit. Still, it does have a lovely middle-8 guitar solo.
But, for all its faults, I bloody love this film and it’s my favourite Robin Hood movie by far (ahead of the sprightly Errol Flynn classic and the slightly more mournful Robin and Marian). Yes, Alan Rickman steals everything but the scenery, but this is the film where the woman who would later deign to marry me first flirted with me at the cinema. It later became our film and we will still greet one another with “Ullo, my lover.”
Also, I was working in a hi-fi/CD shop in Dorking at the time, and our rep for BMG records was called Steve Densham. I learned that his brother was Pen Densham who was the screenwriter of this beloved movie. This was the first time I had known someone who knew someone that had written an actual film. And not just any film, but the biggest film of that year. My one regret is that I never asked for some writing advice, but I was 17, unsure of myself and these things only ever occur to me some twelve hours after they might have been useful. (Top writing tip for younger writers: don’t be shy and always take the opportunity to ask for advice from more experienced writers – they can only tell you to sod off).
And watching again on TV just now (the horrible extended director’s cut with unnecessary backstory for Rickman’s Sheriff) I got all the feels all over again.
The emotional impact of a film often has less to do with the content, and more to do with when you saw it and who you saw it with. This is why seeing a movie in the cinema is so important. Sitting in the dark with your friends and family, surrounded by strangers, and sharing that experience is one of only a few communal experiences we still have in the modern world. And when it works, even with a less-than-perfect film, the event gets wrapped up in memories and emotions that resurface like old friends when you watch the movie again.
I had a meeting recently with a development exec at a very big animation studio (ooh, get me!). He told me that their most successful films transported the audience to worlds. Not just to other planets, but any place where the audience can escape to time and time again. That’s not to say that all films should be pure escapism, but they seem to be the ones we like to watch on repeat.
So, historical accuracy and gritty reboots be damned. Give me Kevin “This is English currige” Costner every time. All together now… “Look into my eyes…”
PS. Oh, and if anyone has a cut of the film where they keep in Christian Slater’s “Fuck me!” line, then do please get in touch.