Part of the reason I love Robin Hood is how he time and again risks his own safety to help others. The climax for this movie version is no different. Friar Tuck is in prison, along with most of the other residents of Nottingham. But unlike the others, Friar Tuck has been condemned to die for attacking the Sheriff of Nottingham. So of course, Robin Hood and Little John undertake to rescue him. In the dark of the night, they scale the castle wall.
They look down on a pretty scary sight.
Archers patroll the tops of the walls.
Soldiers guard the entrance.
Robin is not daunted. He disguises himself as one of the Sheriff's sidekick vultures, steals the keys to the dungeon, and sends Little John to rescue the prisoners.
So far, everything's going pretty easily. Little John finds Friar Tuck's cell. Though do you see that creepy skull to the right? I never ever saw that skull before I screencapped this. Kinda freaky. I mean, it's a happy, smiley skull, but still. Tension is starting to build, thanks to little touches like that.
Poor Friar Tuck was not being treated well. I mean, they have him a book to read, but how's he gonna read it without his hands to turn the pages? More like they're taunting him. "Hey, here's a book -- too bad you can't read it." A subtle form a torture, mayhap?
Little John and the freed Friar Tuck proceed to the debtor's prison, where they find all their friends. Even the baby bunnies have been locked up! That mean, naughty, low-down Prince John.
Meanwhile, Robin has decided to drop in on the royal treasury. He scales the walls in the darkness undetected.
Prince John has decided to keep all his gold well-guarded, as you can see.
Robin sets up a rope pulley system with Little John, who's still in the dungeons, and they tie all the bags of gold to the rope and transfer them to the prisoners. Everything is going peachy keen until Robin gets a little too greedy and takes the bag that Prince John is using as a teddy bear. Prince John sounds the alarm, and Robin finds himself facing grim archers and few escape routes.
He swings out along the rope leading to the dungeon, narrowly escaping getting shot by various arrows along the way. He's getting pretty worried about this, which makes us in the audience worried as well. But so far, Robin's just saving his own skin. Yes, it's courageous to go steal gold and give it to the prisoners your buddy is freeing, but not exactly heroic.
Little John leads the prisoners out of the dungeon, all laden with Prince John's gold, which of course he took from them in the first place.
They flee across the castle courtyard, unhindered until...
...angry rhino guards give chase. You only see these guys for a second on the screen, so they're not horribly scary, but when you stop them like this and look at them more closely -- yikes!!! These guys are mean and out for blood.
Robin and little Skippy stay behind the others to hold off their pursuers. I love this shot -- look at how Skippy is totally freaking out by the fact that he's about to be killed in any number of horrible ways, but he's still standing his ground, with his hero at his side. And where is Robin looking? Not at the approaching enemies. He's focused on Skippy, checking to see if he's okay.
Their brave stand gives Little John and Friar Tuck time to load everyone into a convenient hay wagon and hustle out over the drawbridge. The escape worked!
Except that the Mama Rabbit suddenly realizes that her youngest bunny has been left behind somehow. Look at the terror in poor Mama's face. Anguish and heartbreak -- her baby will be trampled by rhinos or chained up by Prince John, or maybe just lost forever inside the castle. Or possibly eaten by the Sheriff of Nottingham, since he's a wolf, after all.
Poor baby bunny is terrified too, toddling along yelling, "Mama! Mama! Wait for me!"
Robin Hood hears the baby's cry for help. And here's where the courage really comes into play. He stops running, turns around, and goes back into the castle. He was free, he was out in the forest on the other side of the moat already, but he goes all the way back into the castle to rescue a lost and helpless child.
Baby bunny is clearly grateful.
Robin's almost to safety when a the portcullis comes crashing down, trapping him inside the castle. (Baby bunny looks distinctly grumpy here -- I suspect Robin Hood may have squeezed it unintentionally.
What does Robin do? Why, he passes that baby bunny through the portcullis to Little John, and orders Little John to get everyone to safety, rather than rescue him. Now it's just Robin against a whole castle full of angry guards. He's sealed his fate, exchanged his life for that of a baby bunny he barely knows. And he's done it unhesitatingly. And that, my friends, is why this movie's climax hits home for me. Not because it's exciting, but because Robin chooses to lay down his life for another.
He doesn't give up without a fight, though. He scrambles up that portcullis, and on up the castle walls.
But when he ducks inside the castle, he's confronted by a very angry Sheriff brandishing a torch.
The Sheriff sets fire to everything in the room as he wildly swings his torch, trying to smash our hero to bits.
Robin flees up the stairs, flames licking at his heels. (And aren't these flames spectacularly drawn?)
But at the top of the tower, there's nowhere to go. He's completely trapped.
He bolts out the window, climbs onto the roof, and clings there in desperation.
On the other side of the moat, Little John and Skippy watch from the bushes as their friend and hero faces certain immolation.
Poor, poor Robin Hood.
Of course, he jumps into the moat.
He survives the fall, but the archers above rain arrows down on him.
Little John and Skippy root for him to make it, but there's no way they can help him without getting shot themselves.
Robin goes under, and only his hat surfaces, with an arrow through it.
Prince John rejoices.
But look at Skippy's face. He's slowly realizing that his hero has given his life to save Skippy's baby sister/brother.
This picture here? It's making me tear up as I write this. Oh, that poor little Skippy.
But what's this? Why, it's a reminder that this is a Disney movie, not film noir. It's a reed swimming around in the moat by itself.
Robin's using it to breathe through, and when he's out of range of the archers, he pops up out of the water. Skippy prepares to give him a giant bunny hug.
His hero is safe! My hero is safe! Huzzah!
"A pox on the phony king of England! Oodalolly!"
Cry all you want, Prince John. Robin Hood has triumphed. Good has trumped evil, and moral balance is restored to the universe.