It’s hot tonight and I can’t get to sleep. So I thought, hey, might as well write a quick grump. Although it’s not really a grump… For one thing, I have mostly praise for this movie, for another, I’m yawning and hopefully, once I’m done killing my eyes with more monitor light, I’ll be ready to hit the pillow again. So it’s going to be a short one. A grumplet, if you will.
Stories of old heroes fighting their last fight really appeals to me… something about never giving up and all that hokey jazz. I got a lot of guff for that Rocky review, but that was part of it. Characters like Commander Adama, John McClane, Solid Snake, old warriors with something to believe in whether it’s the country, the truth, or survival. It’s always interesting to see how their stories, and often their lives, conclude.
Robin and Marian, directed by the guy who did Superman II, is set in the twilight years of Robin Hood’s career. Old and bearded, he’s played by Sean Connery, complete with his heavy Welsh (Scottish? Neh-eh.) accent. He returns to Sherwood Forest after 20 years at the Crusades under the command of a dying and corrupt King Richard, played by Richard Harris. Marian believes Robin to be dead so she’s a nun now. She’s played by Audrey Hepburn, which really kills me because she looks like Rita Moreno from Oz. Rounding out this odd cast is badass supreme Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham. James Bond fans take note, this is the last time From Russia With Love co-stars Sean Connery and Robert Shaw duke it out.
And it’s a doozy. Their final fight is sad, pathetic and long. Swinging huge broadswords, struggling to just stay on their feet, they just hack away at each other and bleed all over the place. It’s a great end to a sad, sappy romance about aging heroes and lovers. Yeah, it sounds very cliche and sentimental but it’s directed pretty well and it’s stayed in my mind this long.
It’s an aching kind of feeling, realizing how old Audrey Hepburn’s gotten and that Sean Connery’s the only barely surviving cast member. It’s like that sad, awesome part of Highlander when Connor MacLeod realizes his wife isn’t immortal and Queen’s brutal ballad “Who Wants to Live Forever” plays and you have to reach over to that box of Kleenex next to your friend and your friend notices you’re tearing up and he’s all “What’s wrong with you, fag?” and you’re all “I… I got something in my eye.” Yeah, this whole movie’s like that. The Crusades are over, everyone and everything’s old and dying (rotten fruit is a common visual
metaphor motif thing) and there’s nothing left to fight for anymore besides your lifelong adversary and a doomed romance.
For a genre flick it’s a very personal and intimate, although some goofy humor gets in the way. Some old guy THROWS an arrow at another dude — and hits him! Also, Robin Hood kicks a guy in the junk. And it looks pretty good for a movie in the late 70s. You know how some movies have that 70s glaze? (Omega Man, Star Wars, I’m looking at you.) It also, in a way, (arguably!) marks an end to personal, mature genre works without the need for young, dumb audiences or special effects. Star Wars came out the year after and (arguably!) fucked all that up. So, the movie’s all about conclusions, passing from life into legend. Fitting, I feel like this whole year’s full of conclusions.
And so I must conclude this grumplet. May I rest where this arrow falls.