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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

Robin Hood (1973)

An asterisk on this whole entry: I watched this while feeling the sickest I've felt in many years and I am currently awaiting a COVID test result. I was very very out of it. I still adored it.

I don't remember my first introduction to this movie. The VHS felt like it was always there. I had the little storybook with cassette for this and I loved it. I got a Robin Hood pin at Disney World when I was 20(ish) and was devastated when I lost it. I wrote about this plenty when I covered Prince of Thieves, so I'll try to limit the rehashing, but Robin Hood, as a story, has always resonated deeply with me. Bold and fearless kindness. Adventurous community service. Everything I want to be. This Robin, in particular, seems so thoughtful. Foolhardy, yes. But everything is driven by the concern he feels for the people of Nottingham. Showing up to give a bunny a birthday gift? Amazing. Risking everything to get every last bit of gold to return it to the people? Foolish, but fabulous. (I love that he repeatedly calls it returning the money. He's not stealing it from PJ and the Sheriff, he's returning what's been stolen.) He's also the handsomest cartoon character ever. Beautifully animated to be so easy in his movements. It makes moments like the end, when he's struggling to escape, that much more harrowing. I love how he moves as the stork. Just delightful to watch how the animators really thought about how he'd shift his weight to stay on the stilts and made it look so easy.

I can't remember if I've railed on men-in-dresses-equals-COMEDY before in the blog but I hate it. Hate it so much. Especially if it's a lazy gag in a play in the last ten years. (C'mon theater, you know better.) BUT this movie is an excellent example of how you can have straight guys in dresses without it being a cruel joke made at the expense of women, gays, and trans folx. (To me. But I'm a CIS, straight, middle aged white lady. I don't get to make that call for everyone and I deeply apologize if I'm stepping in it here.) When Robin and Little John dress up as ladies to steal from Prince John, I can't see any snark in it. It was the best way for them to be underestimated. Little John keeps his voice lower, he's a big lady and he's still attractive. Robin Hood casually (and expertly) put on eye shadow for that scene. Little John has a ruffly little apron for working around camp. No attention is drawn to it, it's just what he wears to do laundry.

In a similar vein, Lady Kluck is a big, tough lady, and she's fabulous and we should all be more like Lady Kluck. I like her so much I'm doing a second gif in this post, just for her.

There are so many cleavage gags in this movie. I love it.

I love seeing so much of Don Bluth in this movie. His style is so present. I know this era of Disney films isn't highly regarded but they have such heart and such character and I think Bluth is responsible for a lot of that. You can certainly see those same hallmarks in the movies he made when he left Disney. (Not that Disney lacked heart and character after that, but his earthy, grounded sensibilities were replaced by high gloss and spectacle.)

The character design is superb (I am endlessly amused by Prince John not only sucking his thumb but hanging onto his own ear) but I found myself so drawn in by the background art. Soft watercolor landscapes brought into focus with thin, black ink marks. It feels like a fairy tale or a storybook brought to life, which, of course, it is! And a storybook within a fairy tale, as Alan-a-Dale's intro implies. A sentient, animal world has stories of their own like Robin Hood. How dreamy. And weirdly heartwarming that horrible moments in history, like what's depicted in Nottingham and what's going on in the US right now, are universal. And the belief that someone will step forward and risk everything for justice is universal. And hope is universal. My heart fully caught in my throat when Robin, bound, about to be executed, STILL started shouting for justice and an end to corruption when Prince John dared accuse him of treason. May we all have that kind of conviction and strength in our voices.

Good news! It wasn't COVID! Bad news! It still hit me like a truck and I was out for four days.

Watercolor on wood.


-Buuuuhhhhh I'm trying to remember that asterisk on this whole week but I'm just so disappointed in this. I had such visions of lovely, smooth, lightly tinted wood and pbbbbbbbbt this is not that.

-But, she added sheepishly, this was my first ever relief carving in wood. In anything. And that's something. Given that? This is not bad. This is really quite good. I...still wish it was better.

-Part of why I chose this was because I had the materials at home and didn't think I'd be able to get to the store. I also think often about the lovely relief carvings my dad did when I was young. They were melancholy little landscapes with rusted out cars or abandoned locations. There was something so soft about those little carvings and Robin Hood feels like that to me.

-I should have used gel stain.

-I used a Dremel because the carving kit I bought myself on a whim at Harbor Freight (I KNOW) years ago was, predictably, crap. The Dremel was both easier and harder than I expected.

-One of the hardest lessons of this make was how far I still have to go in allowing myself to take up space. Physical space I'm getting better at (good lord what a mess this made) but I was So Anxious about making noise with the Dremel. I talked myself out of many hours of work earlier in the week because I didn't want to bother Ben or the neighbors.

-I will leave the wood working to Ben. He is great at it (I wish he did it more) and I do not like it at all.

-This was my first relief carving. Trying to remind myself of that.

Are you watching closely? I'm posting this so close to the deadline that I will close my laptop, take the pizza out of the oven and press play on The Prestige. I've been jonesing to watch this one lately so YAY.

Have a good week. Take the asterisk if you need to. Making it through is still a win. Done is better than perfect. Learning a lesson is better than giving up. You've got this.

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