Last night I went to the agreed bar for the leaving bash, but no-one was there, so I went home. It was only when I was nearly home, curry in hand, when I figured that the gang probably got settled in the local pub near our offices. Being literal-minded, I assumed they would have actually done what they said they were going to do, and I was even an hour late, which cut them some slack on the timing. It seems that, after five years in Ireland, I still have not learned my lesson. Good!
This afternoon I’m checking out a film I may or may not have seen many years ago: Robin and Marian, with Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn. Maltin’s Movie Guide says “arid, uninvolving film strips beloved characters of their magic”. Huh? These characters are only “magic” if you buy into the Disney version of events.
The Robin Hood story is fiction on a historical timeline: the Disney film is set in c. 1194, ending when King Richard I (Lionheart) returned from a Crusade to find his traitorous brother John trying to usurp the throne, a plot thwarted with Robin’s help. Robin and Marian starts with the death of Richard in a skirmish in 1199, leaving the throne to John, while Robin returns to Sherwood forest to look for Marian.
The gap between the two events is stretched to 16 years in the latter story, with Robin, Marian, and all the supporting characters much older, but only Marian any wiser. On neither historical occasion was Robin Hood actually involved, of course: the legend is based on accounts of thieves in two separate locations (Sherwood Forest near Nottingham, and Barnsdale in Yorkshire). That was over two hundred years later, if I understand my sources correctly.
The way Robin and Marian ends is justly celebrated, the only part I remembered. The legends have little to say about the way Robin or Marian died, so I can’t begrudge the writer the chance to bring the story to a satisfying emotional conclusion.