47 FILMS: 14. ROBIN AND MARIAN
In our continuing series of ’47 Films to see before you’re murdered in your dreams’, we look at Richard Lester’s revisionist middle aged Robin and Marian.
American director, Richard Lester’s career is a wonder to behold. Based in Britain for the most part he was responsible for putting The Beatles on films, some rollicking Musketeers, the best Superman movie ever made, and the only Flashman film.
His humor was a surreal and sixties but dabbed with melancholy. In this retelling of the Robin Hood legend, we meet Robin (Sean Connery with authentic Nottingham accent) with King Richard the Lionheart (Richard Harris) in the dying days of the Crusade. Robin and Little John (Nicol Williamson) are utterly exhausted with the killing and on Richard’s death return to England. The years have changed everything, but some things are the same. Marian (Audrey Hepburn) is in a convent and Robin’s old adversary the Sheriff of Nottingham (Richard Harris) is taxing the country into submission at the behest of King John (Ian Holm).
In contrast to Ridley Scott’s recent flap, Lester’s film takes an ‘idea’ of the aging hero and actually does something with it. Connery and Hepburn are superb as characters whose lives essentially went wrong and have a final chance of happiness. The cast is crammed with brilliant cameos and the script by William Goldman’s smarter brother James (writer also of The Lion in Winter) gives a sharp brooding intelligence to the proceedings. The action is suitably creaky and geriatric, and buckles remain resolutely unswashed, but this is one of the few Robin Hood films where you actually care for the characters.