Directed By: Wolfgang Reitherman
Produced By: Wolfgang Reitherman
Based On: The Legends of Robin Hood
Premiered On: November 8, 1973
Distribution By: Buena Vista Distribution
Disney’s take on Robin Hood is likely the best example known for recycling animation insomuch that while most others have been subtle, in the loosest definition of the word, this one… Not so much. Despite this, Robin Hood is still one of the best examples of the Silver Age of Disney Animated Films and is arguably one of the better renditions of the Robin Hood legend. I say arguably because contrary to how this tale is often told, Robin Hood, his merry men, or man as the case is, and the rest of the cast of delightful characters are all humanoid animals instead of humans.
Our tale begins as all tales of Robin Hood do, in that he and his best buddy Baloo, er I mean, Little John swindle Prince John of his riches to give out to the poor. Of course, like any good tale of Robin Hood, there’s his budding romance with the kind Maid Marian, but beyond this I shan’t say much else for two chief reasons.
First and foremost, much like Alice in Wonderland, I don’t want to spoil the film by going over the plot of events. The second, much as it pains me to admit, the legends of Robin Hood are strictly that. There is, as far as I’m currently aware mind you, no definitive collection of all his adventures. Though, to be fair, the same could be said of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table but there have since been novels made that people cite as being the best collection of those tales and I’ve not heard of any such thing for the likes of Robin Hood and his Merry Men.
Still, I’ll at least talk about my two favorite scenes in the film though. The first amongst them is when Robin and Little John first swindle Prince John in their disguises as gypsy fortune-tellers. Now, don’t get me wrong, Prince John is not the stupidest of Disney Villains though he is easily one of the most short-sighted, particularly when it comes to monetary gain and the like.
Yet, one would stop to consider that given there are only two foxes that we see in the entirety of Sherwood Forest and Nottingham, that maybe, just maybe, one of them might just be that gentleman thief known as Robin Hood that has been plaguing the countryside as of late.
The best scene in the entire film though, or at the least one of my own personal favorites, is when the Sheriff of Nottingham crosses the final line with Friar Tuck by way of actually taking money out from the poor box. Though the Sheriff threatens him with the hangman’s noose, Friar Tuck responds with a ferocious demand that the Sheriff vacate his church before forcing the wolf right out the door and actually managing to beat him up with a stick for a bit before the Sheriff’s crony vulture comes to the fat wolf’s aid.
This scene in particular is just one of many reasons as to why I have such a high level of respect towards the “useless” Hufflepuff House in the Harry Potter franchise and why I take great care to be respectful to anyone whom appears to be a docile, nay, outright jovial fellow. They’re often the ones that have the biggest set of fangs with which to bite.
While there are some songs that are more befitting of the film as a whole, the song that is well and truly deserving of note is the song made up by the townsfolk of Nottingham, “The Phoney King of England.” While a funny song to hear and equally fun to sing alongside, it is also the literal cornucopia of recycled animation in the film featuring segments from “A Silly Song” via Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, “I Wanna Be Like You” from The Jungle Book, and “Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat” from The Aristocats.
Can you spot them all?
Overall, I give Robin Hood three out of five stars. It’s a fun story and certainly one for kids but for adults… It can be a bit of a mix and the blatant use of recycled animation doesn’t help its case any. There are plenty of moments where it’s blatantly obvious where Little John and Baloo are sharing the same scene, at least to those who pay close attention to the minor details that differ the two.
That and as loath as I am to admit, Prince John is just too whiny a villain to take as any serious threat. In point of fact, the entirety of villains in this film are just too tame to be taken as a threat and a lot of the excitement that would normal arise from their fighting the heroes is sadly absent from the film.