Robin Hoods: How Tough Is Maid Marian?
1922: Enid Bennett as Lady Marian Fitzwalter:
Not. She fakes suicide to escape the lecherous advances of Prince John, then hides in a neaby convent while waiting the return of Robin, Earl of Huntingdon. Later she’s kidnapped, and Robin storms the castle to save her. When all hope seems lost, he hands her a knife so she can kill herself rather than be dishonored by the lecherous advances of Guy of Gisbourne. She’s basically a pale, frail thing who veers between death and dishonour.
1938: Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian:
Not much. Sure, she rides in the middle of the night to a Saxon pub and comes up with the plan that saves Robin from hanging. Otherwise she’s a very sweet Norman girl who starts out a bit prejudiced against the Saxons, then falls in love with a Saxon lord. Oh, and by the end she needs rescuing from a dungeon. Go figure.
1976: Audrey Hepburn as Lady Marian
This one’s tricky. In the beginning she gets punched in the face by Robin, then breaks down when telling him how much it hurt to lose him, so she seems a pushover. At the end she kills Robin with poison rather than lose him again, so she’s clearly not. Plus, for the first and only time, she gets equal billing. The movie’s called “Robin and Marian."
1991: Elizabeth Mastrantonio as Marian Dubois:
When we first see her she’s a masked figure who kicks Robin in the groin (always good for a laugh). By the end she’s nearly raped by the Sheriff of Nottingham (which the movie, with its tin ear, plays for laughs). She starts out tough then winds up weak and in need of rescuing—the opposite of Audrey’s arc.
1991: Uma Thurman as Maid Marian:
Not only does she staunchly refuse the hand of Sir Miles Folcanet (basically: Sir Guy of Gisbourne), but she pretends to be a boy to infiltrate Robin’s band. (Since this is Uma, that’s one helluva wrap job.) In the end, she is forced to go along with the wedding but is saved by Robin, whose forces she joins in battling Sir Miles. She swings down on a rope and takes out three knights like they're bowling pins.
2006: Lucy Griffiths as Marian:
She’s not just Marian, the girl fought over by Robin of Locksley and Sir Guy of Gisbourne; she’s also The Night Watchman, the masked avenger whose exploits around Nottingham predate Robin’s. So not only does she not need rescuing, thank you very much, she’s actually the world’s first masked superhero.
2010: Cate Blanchett as Marion Loxley:
Legally, she doesn't have many rights. Her husband dies and his father, Sir Walter Loxley, tells the messenger, Robin Longstride, to pretend to be her husband so they can keep their land. (If Walter dies, she loses it all.) But this doesn't mean she's not a tough cookie. She works the fields with her peasants, fends off the advances of the Sheriff of Nottingham, kills a French soldier trying to rape her, and, in the end, joins the barons, like a British Joan of Arc, in battling back a French invasion on southern British shores. Take that, Enid Bennett!
Manly, yes, but I like it, too.
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