Robin Hood (1973) Blu-ray Review
In 1982, Disney re-released their 1973 animated hit ROBIN HOOD in theaters. That year, a woman in Georgia took her three year-old son to the theater for the first time, marking a very significant event in that child’s life. That child, of course, was me and thousands of movies later, I still remember seeing ROBIN HOOD on the big screen. After all, it was my first movie and the event that established a lifelong passion. Reviewing the film 31 years later has proved to be difficult because my three year-old self is yelling at me to give it a 10/10, while my more jaded older self is reminding me this movie hasn’t aged very well. Much to the chagrin of my three year-old self, I have to say that Disney’s ROBIN HOOD is probably one of the weakest animated efforts from the studio.
The story of Robin Hood and his Merry Men has been told many times before on the big screen. Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner and Russell Crowe have all had a shot at playing the man in tights on the big screen, but it’s a wry little fox that might stick out in the minds of all Disney fans. Voiced by the very British Brian Bedford, Robin Hood is an instantly likeable character that kids can gravitate to. He’s joined closely by the wraspy voiced Little John and together, they rob from Prince John and feed the poor inhabitants of Nottingham Forrest. Ironically, I’d venture to say that this is one of the darker telling of Robin Hood and definitely one of the most melodramatic.
Whether it’s the Sheriff stealing a coin from a boy rabbit or the close-up shot of his mother crying, a lot of time was spent making sure the audience knew the people were suffering. After Robin Hood crashes a shooting contest, the Prince imprisons many of the people of Nottingham, which again took the film in a much-too-dark-for-kids direction. We needed more scenes with the fox shooting arrows or making wisecracks and fewer shots of the people crying in prison. The ingredients are here for a fun kid’s movie, but they really missed the mark. Animated movies were different 40 years ago, but the opening scene of Robin Hood and Little John stealing from Prince John featured more shots of Little John grabbing his fake breasts than actual action of Robin Hood. As a kid, I ignored or didn’t pick up on the suggestive nature of the scenes, but I’m surprised I wasn’t bored to tears by the lack of action and comedy in the film.
The crux of the problem when it comes to reviewing some of Disney’s older movies is that we’ve come a long way in terms of animation. Sure, SNOW WHITE and CINDERELLA are special for how groundbreaking they are and for the stories they tell, but it’s tough to compare something like THE JUNGLE BOOK or ROBIN HOOD with some of today’s Pixar movies. The animation, storytelling and even the music have all come a long way and so with that in mind, ROBIN HOOD might be better locked away in our childhood vaults.
ROBIN HOOD (1973) BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: ROBIN HOOD has never looked better. I wore out my VHS tape, but I hadn’t seen the widescreen version since the theater (which I don’t remember much about), so this was a steep upgrade.
Audio: Disney gave ROBIN HOOD a nice audio upgrade to accompany the nice video transfer.
Deleted Storyline “Love Letters” (7:47): I’m not really sure where they were going with this storyline, but given the fact that I thought the film dragged a little to begin with, I’m glad they didn’t include it.
Alternate Ending (4:52): This is an interesting alternate ending and has Robin Hood getting injured in the final battle and then King Richard comes in and saves the day as Prince John tries to kill Robin Hood. It’s pretty dramatic and clearly not right for a kid’s movie.
Disney Song Selection: You can select this feature to watch the songs individually.
Ye Olden Days short (8:03): Mickey Mouse does his thing in this black and white short. I like the old Mickey Mouse cartoons, if only for nostalgia purposes.
Art Gallery, Storybok, Sing-Along