watched January 22, 2012
It's hard to deny: Robin Hood is pretty awesome. He made thievery cool way before Aladdin and Flynn Rider came along (not that thievery is necessarily supposed to be cool. That's another issue entirely). So what is it about this (in)famous outlaw that has motivated the perpetuation of his folklore for hundreds of years?
It should be noted that Disney's version of the legend portrays certain important characters as comedic relief, giving the movie a more lighthearted tone compared to other adaptations. Prince John, a whiny, childish and greedy brat, has something of an inferiority complex, as most second-in-line-to-the-throne types do. The Sheriff of Nottingham, an overweight wolf (at least I think that's what he is--it was hard to tell), speaks with a drawl reminiscent of those slow-on-the-uptake sheriffs in Westerns (I can't get American Tale: Fievel Goes West out of my head). Did Disney actually dumb these villains down to offset the seriousness of their crimes?
I'm not fooled.
Maybe it's because Robin Hood is such a familiar story, or maybe it's because I'm bent to think this way after some twenty weeks of blogging. But what I see is much bigger than a bratty prince or a silly sheriff bullying cute little forest animals. It's justice that's at stake here. And if there's anything that is a truly ubiquitous ideal, it's that.
Deep down in all of us, there's an innate sense of right and wrong. When the powerful take advantage of the powerless to satisfy their own desires, we're undeniably incensed. And we should be. We've all come into contact with injustice's grip, and we know that this is not the way it was meant to be.
And that is why Robin Hood is so appealing: he's a symbol of justice, fighting for the poor and oppressed. He won't stand idly by while corruption and greed take over his community; he's courageous and action-oriented. It probably doesn't hurt either that he's clever and quick, and an expert marksman. In most adaptations I've seen, he also happens to be a bit of a flirt. He's the guy that all the guys want to be like, and the guy that all the girls have a secret crush on. No wonder Disney decided to portray him as a fox.
While Robin Hood was known as an outlaw, there's another, more significant symbol of justice who fulfilled the law. We're drawn to Robin Hood because in him we see the ultimate Hero of the True Story, the one who stood up to evil and vanquished it forever. And even a watered-down Disney version of Robin Hood can remind us of the hope we have in Him, the one who fully satisfies the whole world's need for justice.