In this essay I am to look at the techniques used by the producers of the award winning film “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” to try to interpret and present the legend of Robin Hood in a way that is relevant and interesting to a modern audience. I will deal with: how the 12th Century was created, the Actors Performance, How Sympathy is created, the order of events, the use of suspense, the use of cameras to create special effects, the use of sound, use of flashback and I shall also give a personal view on the effect that the film had on me.
The film has been modified from the traditional tales of Robin Hood to suit a modern audience. The film starts in the less than traditional setting of a Turkish Jail in the late 12th Century. Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner) has been captured whilst on the crusades. The scene is frantic and dark. People are shouting. Robin escapes. While he is escaping, he tries to free other people from the jail. He managers to free a Moor named Azeem (Morgan Freeman). We see them running clear of the jail. The next scene is in a boat. Both Robin and Azeem have arrived at the South Coast of England.
Azeem vows to repay Robin for saving his life in the Turkish jail. When Robin arrives back on British soil, he kisses the ground. They begin walking back to Locksley Castle. On the way back they are intercepted by some of the Sheriff of Nottingham’s men. One is the Sheriff’s cousin, Guy of Gisbourne (Michael Wincott). A fight breaks out and but Robin is victorious. When Robin arrives in Nottingham at Locksley Castle, he finds out his father has been murdered by the Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) for worshiping the devil. It is at Ben Guest 10L this point when we meet the blinded servant, Duncan (Walter Sparrow)
We then see a few pictures of the inhospitable castle, Nottingham Castle. Rats have been included as they are dirty. The film producers have also made the setting very dark. This makes the audience realise that the Castle homes the evil character of the film, the Sheriff of Nottingham. In the next scene, we see that Robin goes to see his childhood friend, Marion. We see Marion’s servant at first. Robin thinks that she is Marion. She refuses to allow Robin and Azeem on to the home. ‘The Hospitality in this country is as warm as the weather,’ this is a sarcastic quote thus bringing humour into this film.
We later see Marion (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) for the first time in this film. Whilst Robin asks for Marion’s help to rid the land of the Sheriffs evil, the home is attacked by the Sheriffs men. Azeem is able to see the attack building up through a telescope that he had made. Although that this is historically incorrect as the telescope was not invented until the 17th Century, this shows that Azeem is more knowledgeable. Azeem acknowledges his intelligence by saying ‘How did your unintelligent kind ever take Jerusalem? ‘ This quote is referring to the crusades.
Robin and Azeem escape Marion’s home on 2 of Marion’s horses. They flee to the Sherwood Forest. The Sheriff and his men are scared of entering the forest due to the alleged evil spirits that live within. For Robin and Azeem, it is the only place to go. Whilst in the forest they come to a river. They are told from a voice in a bush that they are not allowed to cross it without a fight. Robin fights against Little John (Nick Brimble) with staffs. This section of the film is slightly funny. We later see Robin round a fire with the outlaws. Azeem has been outcast from the group. He is described as a ‘savage’
Ben Guest 10L by one of the men. But Azeem’s new friend, Robin sticks up for him. ‘But no more than you or I,’ this line shows that Robin is not a racist, but in the 12th Century, white people feared black people. Whilst everyone is drinking, Azeem says that his religion does not allow him to drink. We later see Robin with the outlaws. He reveals his plans to lead the outlaws when asked, ‘Are you planning to join us? ‘ Robin replied, ‘No, to lead you,’ Robin trains the outlaws how to fight. He teaches them how to make and fire arrows. Robin, who is a supreme marksman, turns the peasants into an army.
When this is happening we see down the shaft of the Arrow. This is good camera work. Music also creates a calm and jolly atmosphere. The Sheriff of Nottingham starts to get annoyed with Robin and his band of outlaws. ‘Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public, and they love him for it? That’s it then, Cancel the kitchen scraps for the lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas,’ This shows how generous the Sheriff was prior to Robin’s interference. He only gives orphans and ill people scraps from the kitchen.
It also shows how cruel he is by saying, ‘no more merciful beheadings. ‘ In the forge, Guy of Gisbourne returns to his cousin, the Sheriff with bad news. The evil sheriff acts nicely but distracts his cousin as he draws a dagger and kills him for failing him. Again the producers and director showing how bad Nottingham is. Marion goes to see Robin. He is bathing under the waterfalls. The camera focuses on the target as Marion sees Robin. Robin then takes Marion to see the treasure that the outlaws have stolen from the rich that pass through the woods. Marion is dismayed.
She is told that it is ‘intended to bribe King Richards’s enemies to plot against him. ‘ Ben Guest 10L Later in the film, Robin thinks back to his father. He remembers that the last conversation with his father ended on a negative note. The makers of the film use this to slow down the film thus creating a sombre mood. After Friar Tuck (Michael McShane) has joined the men after being robbed whilst travelling through the woods, Little Johns wife, Fanny (Soo Druet) goes into labour, Azeem offers to help but Friar Tuck warns against him, still we see evidence of racism in this film but Fanny allows him to do it.
After the baby is delivered, Azeem is praised as a ‘great one,’ Friar Tuck then accepts him into his life when he says, ‘Come, my barbarian friend’ Robin asks Marion to get word to her cousin, King Richard of Nottingham’s plot. When asked to do it for the king, Marion says, ‘No, I’ll do it for you,’ this is the first move by Marion in showing her love for Robin. Back at Nottingham Castle, the Sheriff of Nottingham and Mortianna (Geraldine McEwan) talk about how to get rid of Robin Hood. Mortianna suggests that they use the Celts as hired thugs. Nottingham likes the plan.
Duncan who has been captured by the Sheriff escapes to tell Robin that the letter sent has not reached its intended destination. Unfortunately for Robin, he leads the Sheriff and the hired thugs straight to Robin and the outlaws. The grotesque Celts invade the village hurling fire and screaming violently. Little John gets separated from his wife in all the commotion and with fire all around them Robin saves the day but falls from a high altitude. Back at the Castle, Marion has been captured by the Sheriff and he blackmails her with the lives of children in order that the Sheriff can be married into the Royal family.