My week thusfar has been dominated by things coming full-circle. Powerful, elemental and emotive happenings and moments. Gladdening completions and new beginnings. The latest of them thumped home today. My Three and three-quarter year old son discovered Robin Hood. He had been introduced to the Disney version a few weeks ago by a wise friend, but today he learned how to fire an arrow (Thank You National Trust). Not only that, but he saw my Prince of Thieves DvD in a whole new light, wild-eyed and exclaiming that ‘Robin Hood has FIRE in his arrows’. It was utter joy to watch his expression. It made me loop back to my own childhood, and to my own different, but still intense introduction to that film.
My father took me to The Apollo cinema in Stafford to see it. It was 1991. I was nine, and out past my bedtime. It was a proper cinema, with attendants that led you to your seat with a torch, red velvet chairs and a curved ticket booth; replete with uniformed cinematographer who gave out blotting paper Lego-shaped tickets. I recall being impressed by everything: even the ice cream lady that sold her wares from a box suspended around her neck. Small things stick out in my memory: everything from parking at my Dad’s work to the neon glow from the vending machines in the foyer. Little did my young brain know that my night was just beginning. I hadn’t a clue.
The music from the opening credits still sets this hairs on the back of my neck aquiver. Glorious brass and double-bass, soaring over the Bayeaux Tapestry. Coyuld music make me feel like this? I was riveted. I was enjoying my sweets. I was out past bedtime. Then without warning I was scared. Overwhelmingly heart-thudding, pants-spraying, thigh-quivering terrified. It was the dungeon scene. Robin Hood (AKA the hariest man I had ever seen), was underground and being tortured. Lots of people were. I felt my mouth drop open( I probably lost some sweets in the process). Nobody else looked scared, so I figured it must be OK, and then lo and behold he escaped, with a man who had the most wonderful voice. I am still entranced Morgan Freeman. By the end of the film my eyes were sore from staring. I loved and drank in every second.
I am eternally grateful to my Dad for taking me that night. That film was a benchmark for me, and taught me so much. I learned to push through being frightened, because there can be joy on the other side. That sometimes split-second decisions must be made. Alan Rickman taught me that baddies scan be funny and sexy. Costner informed me that adult heroes can behave like little shits when children. That friendship can have unlikely beginnings, and even that Hollywood has no respect for British Geography (Dad shouted with rage when Robin hopped over a dusky Hadrian’s wall and exclaimed they would dine with his father by nightfall). So much for the chaps! I also learned what on-screen heroines looked like, and as a result I am still besotted with Maid Marion. Heavenly, she was.
Tomorrow morning my son will play with his bow and arrow. I can’t wait to introduce him to Prince of Thieves when he is older.
© Tom Tide 2016