RogerBW's Blog

Robin Hood (1973) 17 August 2020

1973 animated children's comedy, dir. Wolfgang Reitherman; IMDb / allmovie. They sing and dance in the forest…

Yes, all right, I shouldn't expect much. Not only is it Disney, it's Disney shortly after Walt died; and it does break from convention by making all of its characters anthropomorphic animals rather than formulaically adding animal sidekicks to stories of humans. (Reitherman had also directed The Aristocats a few years earlier, but I think this is the first Disney with no humans in it.) I know people who love it, so I thought I'd include it in my overview.

But the structure and pacing are bizarre. All right, there are two big action sequences, the archery tournament and the robbery of the castle; but nothing leads from one scene to the next, and most of them could be shuffled into a different order without materially affecting the plot. Here's a funny thing, ha ha, now on to the next one. Little John is basically Baloo from the Disney Jungle Book, only in costume; and there's a family of rabbits presumably as audience identification for the littles, but this means that they dilute the known cast even further. Strangest of all, most of the musical numbers – of course it has some – are jammed together into one sequence.

There are some fine voices, but the animation looks cheap for 1973 – closer to the contemporary Hanna-Barbera than to Disney's standard much of the time, perhaps because large parts of it were retraced via a rotoscope-like process from earlier Disney footage then put over new backgrounds – and the whole thing ends up feeling uninspired to me. Yes, you have this character trait, and you will show it to us again and again, and apparently this is funny. (Regular readers know that I have no sense of humour; but in many comedies I manage to find things to laugh at even so.)

Compared with other Disney releases, one can see both why it was a relative failure and why people like it in retrospect. This hero, unlike the various Princes Charming, has some personality; he gets his hands dirty. People who wanted another Disney just like the last one didn't get it; there's a spark of originality here that hasn't quite been ground out yet. But only a spark.

If you saw this as a kid and still love it, great! But otherwise I can't really recommend seeking it out.

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  1. Posted by Robert at 01:44pm on 17 August 2020

    This is absolutely one that you had to be a kid to love. But I was and I do. Listening to an audio tape of the a read-along book vinyl recording is actually more of what my memory of this consists of than the actual movie because of how home media existed in the early 1980s.

    The other odd thing I have noted is how many of my gaming group had our mental image of the pickpocket skill in D&D affected by the fortune teller coach robbery scene. A number of the more absurd moments in my gaming history carry direct attribution to this movie.

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