There are times when a certain actor trends on Twitter and you have no idea why, then you read some of the posts and certain memories come flooding back. Today is one of those days as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves turns 30, but aside from the Bryan Adams song that seemed to stay in the charts for more than half that time, it was the late, great Alan Rickman who fans tweeted about the most, thanks to an article commemorating – or maybe it should be commiserating – the movie’s anniversary. While the movie was a massive hit back in 1991, an article in the UK’s The Guardian newspaper made the mistake of branding the film a “joyless hit that should stay in the 90s”. Well, many Rickman fans were not going to let that stand, were they?
Unlike the tight-wearing Robin Hood’s of the past, Kevin Costner brought to the screen a version that was a lot tougher, more brutal and not as light and airy as the likes of Errol Flynn. It was Robin Hood for a modern (at the time) audience, and something of a precursor to the type of gritty retelling that would become commonplace a decade down the line. Epic in scale, but not without its faults, the movie was a massive hit, giving Costner a double hit coming in the wake of his equally epic, Oscar-winning stint of Dances With Wolves. However, although Costner was the star, there were two things that proved bigger than even him.
The first of these was a little song by the name of Everything I Do (I Do It For You) performed by Canadian rocker Bryan Adams and not to be confused with that other bracket-loving, never-ending hit, I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That) by Meat Loaf from a couple of years later. The song, which pretty much ran for as long as the end credits of the movie, was released just prior to the film, and seemed to remain in the charts for the same length of time it took babies to earn their Masters Degrees. The song held the number 1 spot in the UK chart for sixteen consecutive weeks, clinching a record it still holds today as longest running time spent at the top of the charts. In the US, it was a similar story, with the song hanging onto number 1 for seven weeks on the combined radio-play/sales chart, but seventeen weeks on the sales only chart.
Outside this, there was one other thing that made the film what it was; Rickman’s absolute blast of a performance as the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham. Camping it up as such villains need, Alan Rickman brought with him a little Hans Gruber with him as he saw his plots and schemes continuously foiled by the arrow-loving outlaw. In a tour-de-force performance that was in great danger of leaving the other cast members with nowhere to go, Rickman dominated every scene he appeared in, chewing up the scenery as he barreled and barked his way around the set with the enthusiasm of someone who knew how to throw himself entirely into a role.
Rickman’s name started trending in the wake of an article profiling the movie on its milestone anniversary. The Guardian newspaper published the story, calling the movie a “dark and chaotic mess”, which may have been allowed to pass, if they had not gone on to name check Rickman saying, “it’s hard to know whether to praise him for stepping up so zestfully or damn him for representing the film’s basest, ugliest instincts.” Fans of Rickman were simply not going to stand for this and let their feelings be known.
I for one concur with the sentiment, and now feel the need to relive the movie on its anniversary to remember just how much Rickman put into his role. The movie had flaws like all movies do, but Rickman, along with that cameo by the one and only Sean Connery, was worth the money alone, the rest is just a nice little package for it to be wrapped in.
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