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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Ur-Robin Hood

The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) on IMDb

Plot Overview

In the year of Our Lord 1191 when Richard the Lion-Heart set forth to drive the infidels from the Holy Land, he gave the Regency of his Kingdom to his trusted friend Long­champs instead of to his treacherous brother Prince John.

Bitterly resentful, John hoped for some disaster to befall Richard so that he, with the help of the Norman barons, might seize the throne for him­self. And then on a luck­less day for the Saxons—

The Town Crier proclaims news coming from Vienna: “Leopold of Austria has seized King Richard on his return from the Crusades. Our king is being held prisoner.” That means “golden days are ahead” for Richard's brother Prince John (Claude Rains) who with his cohorts has “seized the regency” and levied heavy taxes on their Saxon subjects ostensibly to pay the ransom, but in reality to fatten Prince John's own coffers. Enter Saxon noble­man Robin of Locksley (Errol Flynn) a “notorious trouble­maker” but also “the deadliest archer in England.” He gathers together a small band of merry men, hides out in Sherwood Forest, and initiates a campaign to “despoil the rich and give to the poor.” Prince John sets after him (“He's got to be stopped”) the Sheriff of Nottingham (Melville Cooper.)

When all else fails, they lay a subtle trap, capture this Robin Hood, and sentence him to be hanged. Their plans go awry when Norman Maid Marian Fitz­walter (Olivia de Havil­land) falls in love with the rogue (“He is different from any­one I've ever known”) and passes privileged info to his men in hopes of a rescue to allow him to live to fight another day.


literary questionsHaving recently seen “Black Panther” on the big screen I am struck by its uncanny similarity to “Robin Hood.” In both pictures we see a missing legitimate king, presumed dead, and an unjust king seizing his place and making it hard on people. In RH he levies onerous taxes on the poor Saxons of England; in BP he distributes futuristic weapons to poor blacks world­wide. These latter with their sense of entitlement and propensity to rob businesses with street weapons will presumably increase their hits driving up prices for every­body. (“With vibranium weapons they can over­throw all countries, and Wakanda can rule them all.”) BP started with a legendary history of blacks in Africa and ended up depicting real life in the ghetto. RH started with the historical Crusades in the Holy Land and ended with a legendary folk hero in England. What's weird is if we take another step back in time from both stories, their histories are intertwined.

Christendom fought the Crusades to reclaim sacred territory, but before it was special to Christians, it was special to the Jews. Before the Jews first conquered Palestine, Moses had to liberate them from slavery in Egypt. While Moses was being prepared, the book of Jasher recounts the following incident: (Jasher 73:28–37)

And Balaam the magician, when he saw that the city was taken, he opened the gate and he and his two sons and eight brothers fled and returned to Egypt to Pharaoh king of Egypt. They are the sorcerers and magicians who are mentioned in the book of the law, standing against Moses when the Lord brought the plagues upon Egypt. So Moses took the city by his wisdom, and the children of Cush placed him on the throne instead of Kikianus king of Cush. And they placed the royal crown upon his head, and they gave him for a wife Adoniah the Cushite queen, wife of Kikianus. And Moses feared the Lord God of his fathers, so that he came not to her, nor did he turn his eyes to her. For Moses remembered how Abraham had made his servant Eliezer swear, saying unto him, Thou shalt not take a woman from the daughters of Canaan for my son Isaac. Also what Isaac did when Jacob had fled from his brother, when he commanded him, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan, nor make alliance with any of the children of Ham. For the Lord our God gave Ham the son of Noah, and his children and all his seed, as slaves to the children of Shem and to the children of Japheth, and unto their seed after them for slaves, forever. There­fore Moses turned not his heart nor his eyes to the wife of Kikianus all the days that he reigned over Cush. And Moses feared the Lord his God all his life, and Moses walked before the Lord in truth, with all his heart and soul, he turned not from the right way all the days of his life; he declined not from the way either to the right or to the left, in which Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had walked.

That takes us all the way back to Ham a son of Noah, (Gen. 9:18-19) “And the sons of Noah, that went forth of the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth: and Ham is the father of Canaan. These are the three sons of Noah: and of them was the whole earth overspread.” (Gen. 10:6) “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.” Cush is Hebrew meaning black. Researcher Bodie Hodge confirms that “As a general trend, Ham is the father of many peoples in Africa” (122). “Much of the southern part of Africa was known as the Lower Cush. It makes sense that Cush's many descendants migrated to many of these areas initially” (127). Dr. Ide adds, “Ham sired four sons: Cush (translates as ‘black’) … and Canaan the youngest” (62). The Cushites being the first black Africans, they would mark their true beginning to compare with their legendary history in BP. And some kind of deal with Ham their father caused Moses (and others) not to marry into that family.

In Genesis (Gen. 9:20-23) is given a telling incident that made Noah take stock that his youngest of three sons, Ham, carried with him into the cleansed world the kind of wicked imagination that prompted God to destroy the old one. The old one was full of violence, and Ham did some kind of violence to Noah, as well, (Gen. 9:24-27) “And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son [Ham] had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” Canaan is the youngest son of Ham carrying the curse of the whole family by a figure of speech called a synec­doche where part stands for the whole.

The Canaanites were due for destruction in order for the Israelites to settle the Promised Land, but the Gibeonite branch did a deal with Joshua (Joshua 9:24-27) to have their lives spared in favor of being bond­men, which was more to their liking. A lot of wicked people were wiped out in the Flood, but Ham got a better deal.

Israel inhabited the Land, then the tribes got split into two, and the northern tribes being the more wicked, they got dispersed some­where west of the Black Sea, these Isaac's sons, and were lost to history. At the same time history records some 'saac's sons proceeding from west of the Black Sea, through Germany, and settling in England, these Saxons, bringing with them some cultural heritage of Israel. To the extent this is the case, they would be Semites, descendants of Shem one of Noah's three sons. One other son, Japheth, is supposed to “dwell in the tents of Shem,” i.e. be integrated with him. The African (Ham) branch is the subject of a different movie.

The very word Japheth means 'enlarge' and his descendants spread out like crazy. According to (Gen. 10:2-3) one of Japheth's sons was Gomer and one of Gomer's sons was named Ashkenaz. In researcher Bodie Hodge's book Tower of Babel, he lists the spread of the latter to include “places the Vikings migrated to” (179). Historians J.M. Roberts et al records that “the Anglo-Saxon monarchy came to grief and a new Viking offensive took place. … in 1066 … the descendants of other Norsemen landed to conquer England from the south. … Viking culture was being Christianized. ¶“Across the Channel, there was the duchy of Normandy, and a literary heritage to the future. In settled lands the ethnic Norse­men gradually merged with the rest of the population” (122–3). Other historians, Robert McCrum et al, write of our language, “English survived because almost immediately the Normans began to inter­marry with those they had conquered” (75). The marriage of Robin Hood and Maid Marian may be only a myth, but it represents some­thing real enough.

While Robin Hood declaimed, “I'll organize revolt, exact a death for a death, and I'll never rest until every Saxon in this shire can stand up a free man and strike a blow for Richard and England,” Richard's end result was to be, “Normans and Saxons alike will share the life of England.” In BP Erik Killmonger spouts, “The world took every­thing away from me! Every­thing I ever loved! But I'ma make sure we're even. I'ma track down any­one who would even think of being loyal to you! And I'ma put their ass in the dirt!” The end result was T'Challa purchasing real estate in the ghetto: “They are not tearing it down, not any­more. I bought the building. And that one … and that one.” In RH the Normans and the Saxons achieve true integration; in BP the lot of the blacks is improved on the margins of society.

St. John of Kronstadt writes: (70)
When you doubt in the truth of any person or any event described in Holy Scripture, then remember that (2Tim. 3:16) “All scripture is given by inspiration of God,” as the Apostle says, and is there­fore true, and does not contain any imaginary persons, fables, and tales. although it includes parables which any­one can see are not true narratives but are written in figurative language.

These movies are part fact, part legend, and must be accepted as such. Bible stories about real persons, on the other hand, should be accepted as true.

Production Values

This adventure flick, “” (1938) was directed by Michael Curtiz with William Keighley finishing it off. It was written by Norman Reilly Raine and Seton I. Miller (original screen­play based on ancient Robin Hood legends.) It stars Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havil­land, and Basil Rath­bone. Errol Flynn played Robin to a T. Olivia de Havil­land (who's of Norman descent) played Maid Marian with consummate grace. All the bit parts were well cast and even the small roles were memorable. Maid Marian rode in on a horse Golden Cloud who was renamed Trigger after Roy Rogers purchased it.

“The Adventures of Robin Hood” is rated PG. It was photographed in gorgeous technicolor using the three strip process. Technicolor was so new then it was milked for all it was color­fully worth; no drab medieval scenery in sight. Korn­gold's score was energizing with­out being intrusive. The script was intelligent and tightly plotted. Maid Marian's costumes were to die for.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This is the Robin Hood to see among many duplicates. They're not going to improve on such a good thing. Only the book would be superior in including more material. I give it my heartiest recommendation.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed fun. Suitability for children: Suitable for children with guidance. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

The Book of Jasher. Trans­lated from the Hebrew into English (1840). Photo litho­graphic reprint of exact edition published by J.H. Parry & Co., Salt Lake City: 1887. Muskogee, OK: Artisan Pub., 1988. Print, WEB.

Hodge, Bodie. Tower of Babel: The Cultural History of Our Ancestors. Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Pub., 2013. Print.

Ide, Arthur Frederick. Noah & the Ark: The Influence of Sex, Homo­phobia and Hetero­sexism in the Flood Story and its Writing. Las Colinas: Monument Press, 1992. Print.

McCrum, Robert, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil. The Story Of English. New York: Viking, 1986. Print.

Roberts, J.M. A History of Europe. New York: Penguin Press, 1997. Print.

Sergieff, Archpriest John Iliytch. My Life in Christ. or Moments of Spiritual Serenity and Contemplation, of Reverent Feeling, of Earnest Self-Amendment, and Peace in God: Extracts from the diary of St. John of Kronstadt (Arch­priest John Iliytch Sergieff). Trans­lated with the author's sanction, from the Fourth and Supplemental Edition by E.E. Goulaeff. St. Peters­burg. Jordans­ville, NY: Holy Trinity Monastery, 2000. Print.