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Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a 1991 adventure film directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film was marketed with the tagline "For the good of all men, and the love of one woman, he fought to uphold justice by breaking the law."

Kevin Costner heads the cast list as Robin Hood. The film also stars Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Maid Marian of Dubois, Morgan Freeman as Azeem, Christian Slater as Will Scarlet and Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham. The original music score was composed, orchestrated and conducted by Michael Kamen.


Robin of Locksleymarker (Kevin Costner), an English nobleman, joins King Richard "the Lionheart" in the Third Crusade. In Jerusalemmarker, Robin is captured and imprisoned along with his comrade Peter. Robin engineers an escape, saving the life of a Moor, Azeem (Morgan Freeman) in the process; Peter dies in the attempt and has Robin swear to protect his sister Marian, (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Robin returns to Englandmarker with Azeem, who vows to accompany Robin until the debt of saving his life is repaid.

In England, with King Richard away, the cruel Sheriff of Nottingham (Alan Rickman) rules over the land, aided by his cousin, Guy of Gisbourne (Michael Wincott) along with the witch Mortianna (Geraldine McEwan) and the corrupt Bishop of Hereford (Harold Innocent). At Locksley castle, Robin's father (Brian Blessed) is lured to the gates and killed by the Sheriff's men after refusing to join them.

Robin returns to England to find his father dead, his home in ruins, and the Sherrif and his men oppressing the people. On his flight from the Sherrif's forces, he and Azeem meet with a band of outlaws hiding in the Sherwood Forestmarker, led by Little John (Nick Brimble). Also among them is Will Scarlet (Christian Slater), who is later revealed to be Robin's illegitimate half-brother. Robin eventually assumes command of the band, encourages his men to fight against Nottingham and trains them to defend themselves. They begin to rob English soldiers and convoys that pass through the forest, then distribute the stolen wealth among the poor. One of their early victims is Friar Tuck (Michael McShane), who is impressed to also join the Merry Men. Robin’s successes infuriate Nottingham, who increases the maltreatment of his people, resulting in more support for Robin Hood despite Nottingham's attempts to defame him and ever-growing rewards on his head.

Finally, Nottingham has had enough. Hiring Celtic warriors to bolster his forces, he tracks down the outlaws' hideout and initiates a massive attack which destroys the forest refuge. He also restrains and confines Marian when she tries to summon help from France. Nottingham proposes to Maid Marian, saying that, if she accepts, he will spare the lives of the captured woodsmen and their families. Nevertheless, several of the rebel fighters - including Little John's youngest son - are to be executed by hanging.

However, despite his information, Robin and a handful of his most trusted aides did survive the assault. On the day of the Nottingham and Maid Marian wedding and the scheduled hangings, Robin and his men fight their way into Nottingham castle and free the prisoners. Robin kills Nottingham, avenging his father. With his guard down, Robin is attacked by Mortianna, who charges with a spear. Azeem throws his sword, slaying Mortianna and fulfilling his vow.

Robin and Marian profess their love for one another and marry in the forest. Their wedding is briefly interrupted by the return of King Richard I (Sean Connery), who blesses the marriage and thanks Robin for his deeds.

Deleted scenes

In the special edition DVD, it is revealed that the Sheriff of Nottingham is actually the son of Mortianna. She kidnapped and murdered the real child of the Sheriff of Nottingham and substituted her own offspring to put her own seed on the throne of England by marrying him to a royal. This is hinted at in the regular cut of the film, when she speaks of Maid Marian: "She is ripe. She will give us a son." This development was left intact in the novelization.


Earning $165 million in the United States and $225 million abroad, it was second only to Terminator 2: Judgment Day in worldwide 1991 ticket sales. The movie received a mostly positive response from audiences. Critics were less kind. Roger Ebert called it "a murky, unfocused, violent and depressing version of the classic story, with little of the lightheartedness and romance we expect". New York Times critic Vincent Canby called it "a mess, a big, long, joyless reconstruction of the Robin Hood legend". The Washington Post called it "a chore to sit through". Costner's performance was consistently criticized as listless, even by those who liked the film. Entertainment Weekly gave the film an overall grade of B-, calling it pleasant escapism, but said "Costner delivers his lines in a languid, earnest torpor" and "sounding like he just woke up to answer the phone". Based on these reviews, Costner won his first Razzie Award as Worst Actor, while Christian Slater was nominated for Worst Supporting Actor.

By contrast, Rickman's darkly humorous performance as the Sheriff garnered wide praise, as did Morgan Freeman's as Azeem. In particular, media studies professor Jack Shaheen later included the film among his "Best" list in his book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies A People, praising the portrayal of Azeem as a heroic, learned, and noble man.

The film is remembered for Bryan Adams' ballad " I Do It for You" (included on his Waking Up the Neighbours album and the motion picture's soundtrack) which broke pop chart records in the United Kingdommarker, where it remained Number 1 for a record 16 weeks. It was also a #1 hit in Canadamarker,the United Statesmarker and Australia.

Action figures and other merchandising

Kenner produced a series of action figures for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991, which included eight figures, two vehicles, and one playset. The line is notable for having borrowed various parts from past Kenner toys, largely Super Powers Collection figure bodies. In addition, the Star Wars Gamorrean guard body and the Ewok village playset and vehicles were also repackaged for Robin Hood. The figures closely shared style with Kenner's Dark Knight Collection released through 1990 and 1991.

Other merchandising for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was sparse but included 2 differently numbered sets of Topps trading cards and a video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game sold fairly well but was not released until 1992, due to a long debugging period. Outside of merchandise based on the film, other Robin Hood items released in 1991 included the PC game The Adventures of Robin Hood, and a re-release of the animated 1973 Disney film. There was also a cereal produced for the film, although its duration was short lived.

See also


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