Follow TV Tropes


Film / Robin and Marian

Go To

An historical drama released in 1976 starring Sean Connery as Robin Hood, Audrey Hepburn as Maid Marian and Robert Shaw as the Sheriff of Nottingham, with cameos by Richard Harris and Ian Holm. It was directed by Richard Lester with a score by Bond composer John Barry. The script was by James Goldman, who also wrote The Lion in Winter which is set in the same period and features Richard the Lionheart and John Lackland as supporting characters.

An aged Robin Hood and Little John return to England after twenty years fighting abroad under Richard the Lionheart. Robin tries to rekindle his romance with Marian but as the kingdom descends into chaos the people look to Robin to lead a rebellion against King John. Robin is forced to choose between returning to his outlaw ways and retiring to Sherwood with Marian.

Notable for being the only major film about Robin Hood to portray his betrayal and death as found in the medieval ballad tradition. It is also unusual for its portrayal of King Richard as brutal and bloodthirsty, when he usually gains the reputation of a hero against his corrupt brother, who here seems relatively soft by comparison.

This film contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: Towards the beginning, Little John starts eating and Robin exclaims "How can you eat at a time like this?" to which Little John replies "I'm hungry!" Sean Connery had this exact exchange with Honey Ryder in Dr. No, though Connery was on the hungry side of that one.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While the Sheriff is still an antagonist, he's portrayed not as the villain of the ballads, but as a decent man who just happens to be fighting against Robin.
  • All for Nothing: Richard has the Chalus castle burned down to seize a golden statue its lord allegedly has, while killing women and children doing so. Afterward it turns out that the statue was ordinary stone.
    • Robin spends all night standing atop Little John's shoulders so he can laboriously chip away at a stone to secure their escape from prison. Come morning, the stone has been dislodged... just in time for the guard to release them on King Richard's orders.
  • Always Save the Girl: Robin rescues Marian from the Sheriff, despite her objections!
  • Anti-Villain: The Sheriff of Nottingham. Although he fights against Robin, he is portrayed as a decent, honorable man who respects Robin and cares for his soldiers.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Sheriff, for Robin.
    Of all men, just for you.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: King Richard, King John and Sir Ranulf.
  • Armor Is Useless: Played straight whenever arrows are involved. The most egregious example is when the old man kills King Richard just by throwing an arrow at him. In fairness though, the arrow missed his armor then. Not so much later with the Sheriff's men.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Richard's death here is similar to how he really died, but still distinct. The real circumstances were him being shot by a French boy during the siege of Chalus, and dying shortly after. Like with letting his killer off in the film, Richard pardoned the boy (though Richard's men killed the boy after Richard died).
  • Badass Bookworm: The Sheriff is portrayed as unusual because he can read and write, but he is also a highly skilled swordsman.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Little John
    Nobody's as gentle, or half as terrible.
  • Bittersweet Ending
  • Book Ends: The movie begins and ends with images of overripe fruit (presumably representing the main characters going on past their respective primes).
  • Broken Bird: Marian. After Robin left her to go on crusade she tried to kill herself. When that failed she became a nun to try and forget about him.
  • Broken Pedestal: King Richard to Robin. The look on Robin's face as Richard dies, raving and violent, shows how far the king has fallen in his esteem since the glory days of their youth.
  • The Caligula: Both King Richard and King John have shades of this.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Robin. He returns to England with no intention of fighting King John or the Sheriff but cannot help returning to his old ways.
  • Combat by Champion: Robin offers to settle things this way with the King's forces, facing the Sheriff in a duel. He agrees the army will leave if Robin wins. After he does though, the soldiers still attack.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Robin and his men.
  • Composite Character: Marian takes on the role of the nun who poisons Robin. She also takes it herself so that they're together in death.
  • Deconstruction: Of the Swashbuckler genre and the Robin Hood myth in particular.
  • Driven to Suicide: Marian, twice. First when she was young, because Robin left her to go on crusade, and then at the end of the film.
  • Dual Wielding: The Sheriff, with sword and axe, in his duel with Robin.
  • Duel to the Death: Robin persuades the Sheriff to fight one with him as an alternative to a pitched battle. This ultimately proves futile, as the Sheriff's army attacks the outlaws when Robin wins.
  • A Father to His Men: A rare villainous example. The Sheriff is clearly distressed when his men are hurt. He ensures they have medical attention and are properly buried.
  • Feudal Overlord: Sir Ranulf is this trope - brutal, arrogant and stupid.
  • Flynning: Averted. As in Lester's previous The Three Musketeers (1973) and The Four Musketeers, the swordplay is rough, bloody and clearly exhausting.
  • Great Offscreen War: The Third Crusade and King Richard's campaigns in France.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Robin and Little John.
  • High Middle Ages
  • Historical Domain Character: Richard the Lionheart and King John of England.
  • Honor Before Reason: Robin chooses to ride out and fight the Sheriff rather than stay in Sherwood.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Marian and a possible motivation for her murder/suicide.
  • I Own This Town: The Sheriff of Nottingham, for the whole of Nottinghamshire.
  • King on His Deathbed: Averted with Richard, who dies raving and unrepentant.
  • La Résistance: The English peasants expect Robin to lead this when he returns. It doesn't end well.
  • Love Hurts: The relationship between Robin and Marian is defined by this.
  • Loved I Not Honor More: The reason Robin chooses to fight the Sheriff rather than stay with Marian.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Robin and Marian get 'reacquainted' in a cornfield.
  • Men of Sherwood: Subverted. Robin recruits a new band of outlaws in Lincoln green but they prove to be hopelessly outmatched by the Sheriff's soldiers.
  • Murder-Suicide: The ultimate fate of Robin and Marian.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Connery, naturally, but also Nicol Williamson, who plays the Yorkshireman Little John with his native Lanarkshire accent. Interestingly, English actors Denholm Elliott (Will) and Ronnie Barker (Tuck) also have Scottish accents, which suggests this may be deliberate in order to make it less jarring that England's most famous outlaw is being played by Hollywood's most famous Scotsman! However, at the time any recognizable English didn't even exist, so this and the accents are a Translation Convention anyway, making it excusable.
  • Name and Name
  • Retired Outlaw: Robin and Little John are this when they return to England at the beginning of the film.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Adventures of Robin Hood. Could also be seen as a Happy Ending Override.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: Little John is implied to be this for Marian.
  • Taking the Veil: the middle-aged Robin Hood returns from the crusades to discover Marian has, in his absence, taken holy vows and risen through the ranks of the convent to become the abbess.
  • Undying Loyalty: Little John to Robin.
  • Vow of Celibacy: Though a nun, Marian doesn't even hesitate about breaking her vow by having sex with Robin when they rekindle their relationship.
  • War Is Hell: The opening siege of Chalus, when King Richard massacres defenseless women and children. Robin's description of the siege of Acre during the Third Crusade also qualifies.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The last we see, the soldiers are chasing Robin's men into the forest, with some killed. What happens with the rest is unknown.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Robin delivers one to Richard when ordered to storm Chalus.
  • Worthy Opponent: Robin and the Sheriff are this to each other.
  • Would Hit a Girl: When she refuses to be rescued from the Sheriff, Robin knocks Marian out and carries her off himself. Earlier, Richard has the castle of Chalus burned down with only women and children still inside.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Richard, despite having been told that in the Chalus castle there are only women and children, has it burned down.