Robin Hood (1973)

Disney’s 'Robin Hood'

Robin Hood (1973)

Check your nostalgia: Robin Hood isn’t very good. It was born of many abandoned ideas and half-baked inclinations – Walt Disney wanted to do something with Reynard the fox, a medieval character that was initially to serve as animated vignettes to be incorporated into Treasure Island; an animated adaptation of popular play Chantecler (the main character was a rooster) had been developed but floundered; and designer Ken Anderson had successfully rallied support for an all-animal version of Robin Hood set in the deep south (an idea that Song of the South had already soured). The resulting film is neither fish nor foul (nor fox), a loose collection of classic tropes, undeniably wonderful character designs by Anderson (although it always bothered me why Sir Hiss, a snake, was furry) and animated sequences that were literally recycled from earlier, far better animated features. (While some find it ugly, I’m a big fan of the look of the Xerox photography process, which gave the lines a kind of raggedness.) Robin Hood is painfully evocative of the films that were made in the aftermath of Walt’s death, with creative principles too busy wondering what Disney would have done (or liked) that they never thought to innovate for themselves. It has its charms and it was clearly an influence on last year’s Oscar-winning Zootopia but Robin Hood is far from a classic.

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