Film buffs may remember the tangled tale of competing Robin Hood projects in 1991. Kevin Costner, riding high from his Oscar wins for Dances with Wolves, had his pick of projects at the time, and he juggled his interest in parallel Hood films that were under development at different studios. Costner chose Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, of course, directed by his friend Kevin Reynolds, while the other production (the one described here), attached to veteran British director John Irvin (The Dogs of War), ended up on cable television with another Yank, Patrick Bergin, in the lead. Comparisons were inevitable, even though the two films were very different from one another. A little harder edged and more surprising than Reynolds's work, the Irvin-Bergin movie made all that medieval heroism seem more an effort of the heart than previous versions. Roughing things up a bit is Uma Thurman as a bratty Maid Marion, not quite the traditional damsel in distress of yesteryear. Irvin keeps the adventure quotient up, but this is simply a darker, grittier variation on the old tale. With Jürgen Prochnow, Jeroen Krabbé, and Conrad Asquith. --Tom Keogh
Top Customer Reviews
Bergin shares Sherwood with a fine cast. Uma Thurman is a surprisingly strong Marian. Owen Teale is an excellent, fun-loving Will Scarlett, and David Morrissey is the best Little John I've seen yet. Jeff Nuttall is also a picture-perfect Friar Tuck. On the Norman side, Jurgen Prochnow is the malicious knight, Sir Miles Folcanet, who pursues Robin through the forest, and Jeroen Krabbe is Baron Daguerre, a greedy lord with a conscience. There's a brief, but impressive, appearance of Edward Fox as the would-be King John.
The movie boasts excellent swordplay, good costuming, authentic-sounding accents ... and some great pagan symbolism.
This film also has immense respect for the history behind the legend. While we may not know much about the real Robin Hood -- if there even was one -- we do know a lot about the time period in question, and Irvin keeps his cameras focused on the truth of feudal Britain. This is a Robin Hood I can believe in without reservation.
THEY GOT ROBIN HOOD RIGHT! The setting, the dress, the hygiene, the politics, the action, and the characters are all spot on. Sure some people wonder about casting Bergin in this role, but he does an awesome job throughout, with just the right combination of panache, bravado, and, at the same time, reliance on friends and sometimes enemies to pull off being Robin Hood.
I particularly appreciated the muted colors throughout the movie followed by the breaking of spring at the end as the story's political and interpersonal conflicts are resolved.
Now to wrap this review up, I have watched this movie 20+ times, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it each time. It's a staple of my collection. If you are like me, and you like smart (though not necessarily glitzy) action films, then this movie might be for you, too!
5 - stars, no question (and I don't give 5 stars to just any movie) -- ARH
This Bergin-Irving "unknown" version was released a few months before the Costner version. Sadly, it aired only on television for fear of competing with the star-filled, "event" film. And yet, this smaller film is vastly superior to the big-budget Costner "epic" on every single level.
This is a somewhat different version of the legend than what you saw with Costner and Disney. The political background to this tale matters: the uneasiness between the two peoples of England. It involves the Saxons, who had held power for centuries, and the more recent arrival and comeuppance of the French-based Normans. Basically, the Normans are now taking power in England and they're not being too nice to the displaced Saxons.
Early in the film we meet two noblemen who are friends: Baron Daguerre (played superbly by Jeroen Krabbe of "The Fugitive") as the Norman lord of the local province and Sir Robert Hode, a Saxon landowner. Soon, however, Daguerre's aide-de-camp, the brutal knight Sir Miles Falconey (Jurgen Prochnow in another great performance) gets into a tiff with Hode. Hode openly rebels against his former friend (Daguerre) and what follows is a neat retelling of the Robin Hood legend - replete with cross-dressing Uma Thurman as Maid Marian.
This film is beautifully scripted and wonderfully shot. The costumes, acting, and sets feel gritty and authentic. In other words, this is not a Hollywood production. It is simply a great film that nobody saw. I am ecstatic that is coming to DVD.
That same year, as you know, there was another Robin Hood movie in the works that was intended to rival PRINCE OF THIEVES at the box office but wound up on TV instead. On closer observation it is obvious why it suffered that fate. It's very clear from the start that the rocket scientists at 20th Century Fox who made that dud were more concerned with beating Kevin Costner to the theaters rather than making a good film. The plot is too simple and uninvolving for modern audiences. No sign of originality whatsoever. The "action" is presented in a tame and somewhat comical manner that is more appropriate for a made-for-TV family film. Even the 1938 Errol Flynn version is more exciting and suspensful!
The choice of casting Patrick Bergin for the leading role simply because he sported a mustache kinda tells you how disconnected the makers of this film were with movie audiences.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
C'est un Robin Hood que je ne connaissais pas et je suis très heureux d'avoir ce film qui est un chef d’œuvre de poésie.Published 12 months ago by pat
A very unique approach makes this movie a refreshing and very entertaining movie, among the many films of the same title.Published 19 months ago by thomas kerr
So it was not the action packed film I had hoped for! One or two funny bits. Seemed like it was made in the 70's.Published 22 months ago by Dena
This is a darker, grittier version than Kevin Costner's. I still really like the Kevin Costner version. Read morePublished on July 21 2013 by JT
I really appreciated the chance to own this movie on DVD, but I wish the company put out a copy of the televised version, which had more scenes.Published on Feb. 5 2013 by James Mulcaster