14 December 2011

An Old Flame Revisited: Robin and Marian (1976)

Another film worth defending. "Robin and Marian" from 1976, starring two of my favorite actors, Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn (finally together on-screen) and besides, Robert Shaw and Richard Harris, which are also superb actors, in my opinion. Just this combination alone is enough for me to like this film - in fact, I love it! Oh, well it's been called average, not much of an adventure and rather silly when it comes to the stunts, and to some extent I agree with that; it could have been better technically, yet I find the movie searching for something beyond and deeper than what the typical swashbuckling movies portray (because, honestly; I'm a bit tired of the ecstatic Errol Flynn version and the gagging Kevin Costner-Robin Hood).

"Robin and Marian" doesn't give any glorified picture of the given time period, during and following the infamous Crusades - and much less of oh-so-good King Richard the Lion-Heart (ironically, Sean Connery would later play him in the horrible Kevin Costner version). Actually, it's quite the opposite. And Richard Harris is the only one to portray a disillisioned, half-daft, unscrupulous murderer of a legendary British King. The thought of Robin following his King faithfully through 20 years, crusading foreign, hot countries far from home, doing the King's every bidding and still going strong and maintain his own humanity (which the legend of Robin Hood is all about, really) is for once and for all questioned.

To be frank, I got a shock. Sure, I've paid attention in history class; the Crusades were pure massacre and carnage, nothing to be proud of, but the way it was so explicitly shown on the screen, adding Richard Harris' ingenius performance of, basically, a lunatic king, I was a bit surprised, to say the least. Perhaps, it has been seen many times before. Perhaps, it is history repeated. Yet, it stuck on my mind, and I realized how silly we (mostly the West) have tried to portray ourselves throughout the years, in movies as well as in legends. Some of those legendary kings and knights in shining armour have come out a bit too glorified for their own good over the years. This film certainly shows another side of those legendary stories, and all for the better, I believe! And it's good we can always rely on Monty Python and Mel Brooks to stir things up as well, aye? ;)

Well, back to my focus: Robin and Marian. Sean and Audrey. They take, of course, most of the credit for this film's successful outcome. It's their mutual relationship, interactions, feelings and story we follow, feel and share throughout everything else. Every line they utter has something captivating and touching attached to it; without ever, EVER being too cheesy or soppy or superficial. Their few, but tender scenes together unite the movie and make it a wonderful love story that for once doesn't involve a new budding infatuation between two young, naive people, but tells of an old love set aflame between two experienced, scarred adults who have been apart for two decades and find themselves again. Their humble, yet underneath passionate love is refound, though they're reluctant to admit it at first. They have never stopped loving each other, even though they've matured in other ways; not grown apart, just been faced with reality too many times. But their love is to feel through the screen and makes everything else seem colourless. The tragic ending is all the wait worth, and includes one of the most beautiful lines (and scenes), I think Audrey has ever conveyed. Altogether, it pulls the film above average. To me, it stands out.

"I love you. More than all you know. I love you more than children. More than fields I've planted with my hands. I love you more than morning prayers or peace or food to eat. I love you more than sunlight, more than flesh or joy, or one more day. I love you...more than God."

1 comment:

  1. What a great review. You captured the movie perfectly. At 45, Connery was no longer the virile young tiger he had been in From Russia with Love, but he was still majestic. And Hepburn was no longer the ingenue, but she was still ethereally beautiful. Most would say they were past their primes, but to me, they were at their peaks.

    And yes, that ending line was awfully moving.

    Connery made three great movies in his life: this one, The Man Who Would Be King, and The Wind and the Lion. None were hugely successful, but all are fun to watch again and again.