Matchup of the Day: Excalibur vs. The Adventures of Robin Hood
It’s the sword vs. the bow in this medieval folklore matchup – Excalibur vs. The Adventures of Robin Hood.
The stories in both films are familiar to most: In The Adventures of Robin Hood, Sir Robin of Locksley gives up his knighthood and property, becoming an outlaw in order to battle the oppressive Prince John. King Richard, John’s brother, is being held for ransom. John has taken the opportunity to seize power. Robin forms a band of men who are loyal to Richard to protect the poor and defenseless from John’s machinations. In Excalibur, the squire, Arthur, becomes a knight and king after removing the magical sword of the title from a stone. He then goes on, with the help of Merlin the wizard, to unify Britain and usher in a period of peace overseen from Camelot.
There are similar scenes in Robin Hood and Excalibur where the protagonists recruit a skilled fighter to their cause. Robin encounters an expert with the quarterstaff, John Little, while attempting to cross a river. Little says that he will only allow “a man better than himself” to pass. Robin challenges him to a duel, but is soundly defeated. The two become allies after a hearty laugh. Arthur also is denied passage across a body of water, but in his case, it is by the undefeatable knight Sir Lancelot who has “yet to find a king worthy of his sword”. Arthur, too, is soundly defeated. That is, until he calls upon the power of Excalibur to grant him victory. Lancelot joins him, unaware that Arthur cheated.
Arthur himself is unaware of the deception that eats away at the peace and prosperity of his reign. Early in Excalibur, it is shown that Arthur’s birth is the product of lust and treachery, also with the assistance of Merlin, on the part of his father, Uther. His half-sister, Morgana, loses her own father due to Uther’s betrayal. This sows the seeds of Morgana’s desire for vengeance. She learns the ways of magic and uses it to trick Arthur into having a son, Mordred, with her. When Mordred grows into an adult he gathers an army to take Arthur’s lands. On top of that, Lancelot has an affair with Arthur’s wife, Guinevere.
Robin Hood is much more light hearted and straightforward in its portrayal of good and evil. Watching Excalibur, it kind of reminded me of a more twisted version of The Force Awakens (The source of magic in the film, referred to as “the dragon”, seems very similar to the Force from Star Wars. I’m just saying. This article even compares Awakens to Arthurian legend as well as the tale of Robin Hood.) In the end, Mordred and Arthur end up killing each other. Guinevere is left as queen. Robin helps restore Richard to the throne and everyone lives happily ever after.