Having recently watched the new 'Robin Hood' movie it occurred to me that the character, in film, reflects Western Man fairly well since the 1930's.
The three major films over the decades are,
(1938) 'The Adventures of Robin Hood', staring Errol Flynn
(1991) 'The Prince Of Thieves', staring Kevin Costner
and (2010) 'Robin Hood', staring Russell Crowe.
In the 38' version, Robin Hood is a twenty-something fellow full of the vitality and playfulness of youth, having a lot of fun while saving the world. His easy laugh reflecting his assured-ness in himself and the world around him
By 1991 he is a somewhat more weary looking thirty-something, paired with a black sidekick and returning from the crusades a bit jaded and well, bland. He has doubts about things.
By 2010 he is now a overweight, gruff, forty-something version of Maximus from 'Gladiator' worrying over political theories and impersonating, well, Robin Hood. By now, doubt is even projected into the falseness of his identity.
It's a telling transformation.
It's also a reaffirmation of my long held belief about audiences wanting "dark and gritty realness" in their make believe entertainment.
In the 1930's, life really was dark and gritty. The depression had crippled the economy and people were poor, dispirited and fighting to survive from one day to the next.
What kind of entertainment did they desire?
Lighthearted escapist fare like Flynn's Robin Hood.
Fast forward to 2010 when people are fat, bloated, flabby, pampered and spoiled and what do they want?
"Dark and gritty".