So, everyone has a favorite movie that others just don’t “get”, right? There are whole cults of appreciation that have grown up around some obscure and bad movies. But for the most part it’s an individual thing. I suppose there are some people out there, maybe they don’t like movies very much or have very strict tastes, who don’t have a list of secret, guilty loves.
But I’m not one of them. There are actually quite a few movies that I have loved for some reason or another that would make an erudite movie critic roll their eyes if mentioned in a loving manner. Robin and Marian from 1976 is one of them.
Robin and Marian wasn’t completely panned by critics and I have quite a bit of company in other viewers who have a warm place in their heart for the movie. But it only has about a 60% favorable rating at Rotten Tomatoes and the IMDB. It’s a flawed movie that has moments of humor and beauty that overwhelm the flaws. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve always loved the Robin Hood legend either.
In the movie Sean Connery plays an aging Robin Hood, finally returned to England after twenty years, opposite Audrey Hepburn’s aging Marian. There is something magical about their performances, especially in their scenes together. Robin and Marian’s love for each other is palpable, and exquisitely portrayed in Marian’s final speech of the movie.
The script for the movie is uneven, but has some great lines, especially the humor. One of my favorites is when Marian, who had been living as a nun for the previous twenty years, mentions that her confessions were the envy of the convent.
I think the movie does a great job of providing a fairly realistic portrayal of medieval life. It’s hard, dirty, and has little to do with people parading around in fancy, romantic costumes ala Camelot (which I also love by the way). There is a great duel between Robin and his old nemesis the sheriff of Nottingham, played by Robert Shaw. There’s no amazing fight choreography with flashing blades and intricate footwork (as fun as those are to watch!). It’s a brutal, exhausting fight with heavy swords and armor.
But mostly what I love about the movie is Audrey Hepburn as Marian. I was only fourteen when the movie was released and at that age had not had any thoughts yet that I might be a lesbian. As proof of how oblivious I was, I came away from the movie being madly in love with Hepburn’s portrayal of Marian, but I didn’t realize it. At least, not on a conscious level. Yet I do remember thinking how breathtaking she was, how she seemed to glow with an inner light up there on the big screen as she talked about her past with Robin and her love for him.
I just watched the movie again last week. I saw a DVD copy for only six bucks in the grocery store so of course had to get it. I thought maybe time would have changed how I felt about the movie, since the last time I saw it was probably a couple decades ago. But I was just as enchanted as when I originally saw it with my movie buddy in junior high, and just as in love with Marian. But that shouldn’t be too surprising since Hepburn was glorious in just about every movie she made.