Film chosen and introduced by Patrick
I watched Avengers: Endgame (again) this week, which got me recalling fondly the experience of seeing such a film at the cinema, having gone to the midnight screening which was nothing short of wild. There are few films I consider to have given me a ‘true cinema’ experience. I felt like I was amongst rowdy Americans akin to the screening of The Dark Knight I attended on opening night in Manhattan, Kansas: I’ll never forget the guy behind me screaming out “Oh my God! It’s Two-Face”, the moment Harvey Dent turned his burnt face to the camera. You’d think it was the twist of the century for that audience, but I couldn’t deny the atmosphere of such screenings adding to my enjoyment.
Reminiscing further into my experiences of cinema, films that were so memorable for their spectacle and cinematic environment. Audience participation or that palpable electricity in the air from a group of strangers enjoying something unanimously. It so happens that Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is very much in this category for me.
In 1991 I was 5, queuing in the streets of Leicester for the Odeon to let us merry men (my parents and I) in. The excitement was real. I remember the queueing system back then was that once the screen was full, the queue waited for the next screening. Thus my parents and I stood there for hours until, finally, I was off to Sherwood Forest. I remember the same experience waiting for Jurassic Park a few years later… DINOSAURS!!!!
Now, being brought up in the Midlands so close to Nottingham, I had been exposed to Robin of the Hood and was fascinated by his legend, and being so close to the actual Sherwood Forest was such a draw for family day trips. I like to think I didn’t beg my parents for this trip too much, but I’m sure I was very politely insistent. The same goes for my want of a bow & arrow when we arrived! It felt magical, historical and important to me.
Seeing Sherwood Forest on screen blew my little mind. With only Disney’s Robin Hood to compare it to (a film I was a massive fan of and that, along with being a Leicester City Football Club fan, firmly cemented the fox as my favourite ever animal) but this felt so real to me.
The tree houses.
The home made bows and arrows.
Devlin recently talked about heroes; here was my new hero. Costner didn’t have to do anything but play Robin Hood to achieve this status for me and I never forgot him thereafter. I sought his films as I grew up and still believe he was a great actor. This was Costner in his prime too!!! Perhaps surprisingly, this was Costner’s biggest box office film to date.
Ask me if I liked the film even after the cinematic experience and I will point you in the direction of my parents to answer… they endured the VHS on repeat, day after day, from 1992 onwards (I also wore out VHS tapes of Back to the Future, Karate Kid and Home Alone).
If I wasn’t watching the VHS, I was in the garden, making my own bows and arrows, up a tree or listening to the first single ‘I’ (read: ‘my mother’) ever bought; Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You” on cassette. I also had this massive Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves poster on my bedroom wall with the image of Robin firing the flame arrow, what an iconic image! I really wish I could remember the tagline on that poster because I seem to remember it was a longer paragraph rather than what my research found: “For the good of all men, and the love of one woman, he fought to uphold justice by breaking the law”. But, maybe I have embellished it further.
Revisiting the film now, I can appreciate everything the 5-to-10-year-old me loved, but even more so. This romping epic has received vitriol from a number of reviewers. Some now deem it unwatchable, who can frankly apologise to my 5-year-old self leaving that cinema with the broadest smile on my face. This is a cinematic treat and a wonderful adventure. Who cares if Robin has an American accent? Not me. I haven’t even mentioned the other characters I fell in love with – Azeem and the Sheriff of Nottingham, or “Nottingha’am” as my mother always says, in mock American. Freeman and Rickman’s performances are a dichotomy of each other and really are memorable for what they are.
I was so pleased to be given the chance to talk about this with my friends and new acquaintance, Matt, but more so to find out we all really rather like this film and appreciate the craft and cinematic adventure it brings us on time and time again!