I finally watched Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves—the one with Kevin Costner and a very confusing relationship between the Sheriff of Nottingham and a shrieking witch. That only leaves a half million more versions of Robin Hood to go!
Actually, I had seen this movie once before, but I didn’t remember anything after the first ten minutes because I was too busy being emotionally devastated. But we’ll get back to that in a minute.
Like the rest of my generation, I was a Disney junkie as a child. My parents say that I wasn’t very interested in the princesses, though. Instead, after I saw The Little Mermaid at about age four, I liked to stomp around the house wearing my mom’s snow parka and cackling like Ursula. Later I switched to Sleeping Beauty’s evil fairy godmother, Maleficent. She was cooler because she had green skin and no tentacles and a better name. And she could turn into a dragon.
But my favorite Disney movie of all time ever was Robin Hood. All the characters are animals, including a singing rooster voiced by Roger Miller, and Robin himself is a dashingly handsome red fox. I’m pretty sure that canine outlaw was my first true love.
Anyway, my mom knew how obsessed I was with the movie, even if she didn’t fully grasp my feelings for the hero, so she rented a copy of Prince of Thieves for me to see. “It’s a different version of Robin Hood,” she explained. “You’ll like it!” I was sure she was right.
I was seven or eight, and this was my first experience with multiple adaptations of the same story. I did already understand about the same actors playing different characters, though, thanks to concurrent viewing of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Reading Rainbow.
(TANGENT: I asked my mom one day why LeVar Burton had an earring on Reading Rainbow. She didn’t know how to explain this phenomenon to a first-grader, so she told me that he wanted to be sure we could tell the difference between LeVar and Geordi La Forge.)
So I curled up in a big chair and waited, overwhelmingly excited to see a whole new movie about my very favorite characters.
Imagine my disappointment when, instead of my furry beloved, I was faced with THIS guy and his radical 1991 costume epic pseudo-mullet.
I hadn’t known until that moment that the Robin Hood story was about humans. I assumed that any “different version” would have a different fox and a different bear, just like how the live-action version of 101 Dalmatians still has dogs.
This revelation ranks as one of the major traumas of my childhood, right up there with losing my second-favorite My Little Pony or almost getting swept out to sea.
I don’t remember watching past Robin’s return to England in the second scene. My mom probably turned it off, either because my innocent childhood illusions were shattering violently or because she noticed how many maimings, blindings, skewerings, and attempted rapes were going on.
Though I never gave up on Robin entirely, I eventually transferred most of my energies to practicing running on all fours and writing dozens of first-person stories about wolves, in case I was able to fulfill my career goal of becoming one. Of course, most of the process repeated itself a couple of years later when I got to see Balto.