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Robin Hood's appeal tested at Cannes
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 13 - 05 - 2010

CANNES - If Robin Hood had never existed, Hollywood would have invented him. In fact, whether there was an actual person behind the Robin Hood sung of in English ballads - a matter of some debate -the outlaw of Sherwood Forest owes his present-day celebrity to the big screen, beginning with Douglas Fairbanks' silent-era 1922 swashbuckler.
"America more or less hijacked Robin Hood at that point," says Thomas Hahn, a professor of English at the University of Rochester and Robin Hood scholar.
"The movie took a local English folk hero and turned him into an international icon of popular culture."
Robin Hood's enduring appeal will be tested once again as the Cannes Film Festival gets under way Wednesday with the world premiere of Ridley Scott's "Robin Hood," with Russell Crowe in the titular role of an archer in the employ of King Richard the Lionheart who takes up the cause of the common man against the British crown.
Crowe's Robin won't just be challenging King John, though. The New Zealand-born actor will also be measured against a commanding lineup of previous Robins: Errol Flynn's raffishly athletic turn in 1938's
"The Adventures of Robin Hood," for many the quintessential Robin Hood movie; the 1952 Disney version "The Story of Robin Hood and his Merrie Men," starring the good-natured Richard Todd; Sean Connery's autumnal take on an aging Robin in 1976's "Robin and Marian"; the avenging action hero played by Kevin Costner in 1991's "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves"; and even the insouciant Robin of Cary Elwes in Mel Brooks' 1993 parody "Robin Hood: Men in Tights."
Well aware of all the Robin Hoods that have come before him - there's even been a Disney animated version with Robin portrayed as a wily fox, not to mention Chuck Jones' 1958 toon, "Robin Hood Daffy," with Daffy Duck's Robin pitted against Porky Pig's Friar Tuck - Crowe has promised that this new Robin will get back to basics.


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