By Tim Barlow
My mom likes to tell the story of how one time when I was a kid, probably around the age of 2 or 3, I woke her up once at 4 in the morning, saying, “It won’t go in, it won’t go in.” A little concerned her kid was speaking in riddles at 4 a.m., and possibly possessed, my mom got up and followed me downstairs. The evidence of my late-night adventure was everywhere. Under flipped light switches pillows were stacked up like a crude, chimpanzee-grade step stool. The refrigerator door was open, a half-eaten yogurt container on the coffee table. More pillows stacked under the tv, and a copy of Disney’s Robin Hood half out of the VCR where a weird little kid was trying to play one movie while another was already in the player, at 4 in the morning.
Like many kids of a certain age, I was a creature of habits. The same lullabies, the same books before bed, the same kraft macaroni for lunch, and the same movies, on repeat, everyday, for way too long. Maybe back then I was already wary of the unknown, and it was comforting to have something familiar, but for whatever reason, I had an unhealthy obsession with certain movies growing up, and I’m told Robin Hood was the first.
I loved the story, the cartoon characters, the bows and arrows, the fun to be had while simultaneously inciting revolution, the cross dressing as old gypsies, all of it. And I watched it a LOT. But for as many times as I watched it, there are some things, I noticed with fresh eyes while re-watching recently, for probably the first time in twenty years. For instance, half the characters have British accents, half do not…sloppy, Disney, this isn’t Les Misérables. Another realization was that from an animation standpoint, old Disney movies are now so dated, they’re charming – maybe it was simply nostalgia, but there was something undeniably calming about watching this older classic animation, especially compared with today’s microprocessor powered 3D Pixar pixel porn.
But one of the strongest sensations I had while re-watching, was: It’s all still the same! That probably sounds obvious, but there was something so nice about having an unchanged, untainted, non-digitally remastered time capsule that was exactly how (I feel like) I remembered it. I was instantly transported back to the 1 ½ story, brown and white Tudor I grew up in from the ages of 1 through 4, sitting in the basement on the ugliest couch ever made, soaking in a movie via vhs on a television with knobs instead of a buttons. Back to a simpler time where I could watch the same movie on repeat, and no one would ask me if I got their email, or which paycheck the mortgage comes out on, or if my hairline is moving. Back to a time where I could watch Robin Hood and Little John romp around Sherwood Forest, singing Oodelaly, golly what a day as much as I wanted, and know exactly what they meant.
There’s a scene in the movie, that I never actually liked as a kid. It’s this sentimental story bridge after Robin Hood and Maid Marian escape together into Sherwood Forest, but before they rendezvous with all their friends to have a puppet show and mock Prince John. This scene is mushy, it’s slow, it has mood-setting fireflies, there’s 1970’s folk music, and compared to the previous archery contest scene (awesome!), this follow up is a complete waste of my effing time (as understood through the eyes of a precocious boy of 3). But during this recent stroll-down-memory-lane viewing, I watched that scene through my all grown up eyes, and in that acoustic accompaniment, a 70’s Peter Paul and Mary knock off, croons: “Once we watched a lazy world go by, now the days seem to fly. Life is brief, but when it’s gone, love goes on and on.” And Oodelaly, does that not just sum it all up?! …I love this movie, always have.