Many faces of Robin Hood. Recent science fiction and fantasy

Olivia De Havilland GIF by Turner Classic Movies
Image via Giphy

Lady Marian Fitzswalter: Why, you speak treason!   Robin Hood : Fluently. – The Adventures of Robin Hood 1938

We recently had the great pleasure of doing a launch event with the fabulous H.G. Parry for her new book The Magician’s Daughter. You can view a recording of that event at the end of this piece.

During that conversation, the subject of the Robin Hood legend came up as a continuing inspiration for writers, especially film and television directors. So, we thought what better excuse do we need to look at some of the versions, some of which are available to borrow.

Since the birth of film each age has created its own celluloid version of the Robin Hood myth. The idea of robbing from the rich to give to the poor has had universal appeal for a very long time. The first version we are going to look at is the The Adventures of Robin Hood  from 1938. This swaggering swashbuckling version which some people regard as the best Robin Hood movie of them all starred Errol Flynn as Robin Hood in his most acclaimed role. The supporting cast is pretty stellar too, featuring superstars of the era like Olivia De Havilland, Basil Rathbone and Claude Rains.

The 1973 Animated Walt Disney version featured characters recycled from The Jungle Book, the songs are fabulous and the whole venture is great family fun.

The definitive 1980’s version of the myth was the British television series called Robin of Sherwood, starring Michael Praed and later Jason Connery as Robin. Robin Hood was obviously a family affair in the Connery household, as Jason’s  father Sean played several different roles in several adaptations of the myth. The series looks fabulous despite being filmed on a shoestring budget, allegedly the Sherriff of Nottingham’s gold regalia was made from spray painted biscuits! The series was hugely popular at the time and became the template for many of the later adaptations.

In the 90’s, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, starring Kevin Costner and another stellar cast of the time: including Alan Rickman, Mike McShane and Sean Connery. The single from the soundtrack, (Everything I Do) I Do It for You by Bryan Adams, hit the number one slot globally, was the best-selling single of that year, and one of the best-selling singles of all time.

The 2010 Ridley Scott directed Robin Hood, film starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett, is a much grittier and more visceral affair.

Other recently acquired Fantasy and Science fiction titles that caught our attention are listed below.
The magician’s daughter / Parry, H. G.
“It is 1912, and for the last seventy years magic has all but disappeared from the world. Yet magic is all Biddy has ever known. Orphaned as a baby, Biddy grew up on Hy-Brasil, a legendary island off the coast of Ireland hidden by magic and glimpsed by rare travelers who return with stories of wild black rabbits and a lone magician in a castle. To Biddy, the island is her home, a place of ancient trees and sea-salt air and mysteries, and the magician, Rowan, is her guardian. She loves both, but as her seventeenth birthday approaches, she is stifled by her solitude and frustrated by Rowan’s refusal to let her leave…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The crane husband / Barnhill, Kelly Regan
” A fifteen-year-old teenager is the backbone of her small Midwestern family, budgeting the household finances and raising her younger brother while her mother, a talented artist, weaves beautiful tapestries. For six years, it’s been just the three of them–her mother has brought home guests at times, but none have ever stayed. Yet when her mother brings home a six-foot tall crane with a menacing air, the girl is powerless to prevent her mom letting the intruder into her heart, and her children’s lives. Utterly enchanted and numb to his sharp edges, her mother abandons the world around her to weave the masterpiece the crane demands…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi : a novel / Chakraborty, S. A.
“Amina al-Sirafi should be content. After a storied and scandalous career as one of the Indian Ocean’s most notorious pirates, she’s survived backstabbing rogues, vengeful merchant princes, several husbands, and one actual demon to retire peacefully with her family to a life of piety, motherhood, and absolutely nothing that hints of the supernatural. But when she’s tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she’s offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade’s kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The chance to have one last adventure with her crew, do right by an old friend, and win a fortune that will secure her family’s future forever? It seems like such an obvious choice that it must be God’s will. ” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Our share of night : a novel / Enriquez, Mariana
“In 1981, a young father and son set out on a road trip across Argentina, devastated by the mysterious death of the wife and mother they both loved. United in grief, the pair travels to her family home near Iguazú Falls, where they must confront the horrific legacy she has bequeathed. For the woman they are grieving came from a family like no other–a centuries-old secret society called the Order that pursues eternal life through ghastly rituals. For Gaspar, the son, this cult is his destiny. As Gaspar grows up he must learn to harness his developing supernatural powers, while struggling to understand what kind of man his mother wanted him to be…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The foxglove king / Whitten, Hannah
“When Lore was thirteen, she escaped a cult in the catacombs beneath the city of Dellaire. And in the ten years since, she’s lived by one rule: don’t let them find you. Easier said than done, when her death magic ties her to the city. Mortem, the magic born from death, is a high-priced and illicit commodity in Dellaire, and Lore’s job running poisons keeps her in food, shelter, and relative security. But when a run goes wrong and Lore’s power is revealed, she’s taken by the Presque Mort, a group of warrior-monks sanctioned to use Mortem working for the Sainted King. Lore fully expects a pyre, but King August has a different plan…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The scarlet circus / Yolen, Jane
“A rakish fairy meets the real Juliet behind Shakespeare’s famous tragedy. A jewelry artist travels to the past to meet a successful silver-smith. The addled crew of a ship at sea discovers a mysterious merman. More than one ignored princess finds her match in the most unlikely men. From ecstasy to tragedy, with love blossoming shyly, love at first sight, and even love borne of practical necessity–beloved fantasist Jane Yolen’s newest collection celebrates romance in all its glory.”–Publisher marketing” (Catalogue)

Godkiller / Kaner, Hannah
“You are not welcome here, godkiller. Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins. Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour. Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning — something is rotting at the heart of the kingdom, and only they can be the ones to stop it.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an eBook.

The destroyer of worlds : a return to Lovecraft country / Ruff, Matt
“Summer, 1957. Atticus Turner and his father, Montrose, travel to North Carolina, where they plan to mark the centennial of their ancestor’s escape from slavery by retracing the route he took into the Great Dismal Swamp. But an encounter with an old nemesis turns their historical reenactment into a real life-and-death pursuit.  Yet these troubles are soon eclipsed by the return of Caleb Braithwhite. Stripped of his magic and banished from Chicago at the end of Lovecraft Country, he’s found a way back into power and is ready to pick up where he left off. But first he has a score to settle…” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Films based on books at #NZIFF 2016

Our favourite time of year has rolled around again – the NZ International Film Festival! This year’s selection is fantastically broad and thoughtful. We’ve put together a list of some of the films in the festival that are based on books or short stories for you to brush up on before you see them on the big screen.

Certain Women, directed by Kelly Reichardt. Based on the short stories “Tome”, “Native Sandstone” and “Travis B” by Maile Meloy.
Syndetics book coverHalf in love : stories / Maile Meloy.
“Fourteen remarkable stories that combine strong Western settings with a subtle and distinct female voice. This critically celebrated debut collection marks the exciting beginning of prize-winner Meloy’s promising career. Lean and controlled in their narration, abundant and moving in their effects, Maile Meloy’s stories introduce a striking talent. Most are set in the modern American West, made vivid and unexpected in Meloy’s unsentimental vision; others take us to Paris, wartime London, and Greece, with the same remarkable skill and intuition. Smart, surprising, and evocative, Meloy’s brilliantly observed stories fully engage the mind and heart.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

The Handmaiden, directed by Park Chan-wook. Based on the novel Fingersmith by Sarah Waters.
Syndetics book coverFingersmith / Sarah Waters.
“London 1862. Sue Trinder, orphaned at birth, grows up among petty thieves – fingersmiths – under the rough but loving care of Mrs Sucksby and her ‘family’. But from the moment she draws breath, Sue’s fate is linked to that of another orphan growing up in a gloomy mansion not too many miles away.” (Syndetics summary)

High Rise, directed by Ben Wheatley. Based on the novel of the same name by J. G. Ballard.
highriseHIGH-RISE
“Within the concealing walls of an elegant forty-storey tower block, the affluent tenants are hell-bent on destruction. Cocktail parties degenerate into marauding attacks on ‘enemy’ floors and the once-luxurious amenities become an arena for riots and technological mayhem. In this visionary tale of urban disillusionment society slips into a violent reverse as the isolated inhabitants of the high-rise, driven by primal urges, create a dystopian world ruled by the laws of the jungle.” (Adapted from Amazon.co.uk)

Indignation, directed by James Schamus. Based on the novel of the same name by Philip Roth.
Syndetics book coverIndignation / Philip Roth.
“America, 1951. Marcus Messner, from Newark, New Jersey, is beginning his sophomore year on the pastoral, conservative campus of Ohio’s Winesburg College. Far away from home, in the Midwestern college, Marcus has to find his way amid the customs and constrictions of another American world.” (Syndetics summary)

Julieta, directed by Pedro Almodóvar. Based on the short stories “Chance”, “Soon” and “Silence” by Alice Munro.
Syndetics book coverRunaway : stories / Alice Munro.
“In Alice Munro’s new collection, we find stories about women of all ages and circumstances, their lives made palpable by the subtlety and empathy of this incomparable writer. Three stories are about a woman named Juliet – in the first, she escapes from teaching at a girls’ school into a wild and irresistible love match; in the second she returns with her child to the home of her parents, whose life and marriage she finally begins to examine; and in the last, her child, caught, she mistakenly thinks, in the grip of a religious cult, vanishes into an unexplained and profound silence.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Life, Animated, directed by Roger Ross Williams. Based on the book of the same name by Ron Suskind.
Syndetics book coverLife, animated : a story of sidekicks, heroes, and autism / Ron Suskind.
“What if you were trapped in a Disney movie, and had to learn about life and love mostly from what could be gleaned from animated characters, dancing across a screen of colour? Asking this question opens a doorway to the most extraordinary of stories. It is the saga of Owen Suskind, who happens to be the son of one of America’s most noted writers, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind. He’s also autistic. The twisting, 20-year journey of this boy and his family will change that way you see autism, old Disney movies, and the power of imagination.” (Syndetics summary)

The Rehearsal, directed by Alison Maclean. Based on the book of the same name by Eleanor Catton.
Syndetics book coverThe rehearsal / by Eleanor Catton.
“A high-school sex scandal jolts a group of teenage girls into a new awareness of their own potency and power. The sudden and total publicity seems to turn every act into a performance, and every platform into a stage. But when the local drama school decides to turn the scandal into a show, the real world and the world of the theatre are forced to meet, and soon the boundaries between private and public begin to dissolve.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Shadow World, directed by Johan Grimonprez. Based on the book The shadow world: inside the global arms trade by Andrew Feinstein.
Syndetics book coverThe shadow world : inside the global arms trade / Andrew Feinstein ; research, Paul Holden and Barnaby Pace.
“Feinstein reveals the corruption and the cover-ups behind BAE’s controversial transactions in South Africa, Tanzania and eastern Europe and the revolving-door relationships that characterise the US Congressional-Military-Industrial Complex. The Shadow World exposes both the formal government-backed trade in arms as well as the illicit deals and lays bare the shocking links between the two. Essential reading for anyone who cares about justice, transparency and accountability in both the public and private spheres, and for anyone who believes that it is more important to invest in saving lives than in the machinery of death.” (Adapted from Syndetics summary)

Sunset Song, directed by Terence Davies. Based on the novel of the same name by Lewis Grassic Gibbon.
Syndetics book coverSunset song / Lewis Grassic Gibbon ; edited with an introduction by Tom Crawford.
Sunset Song is the first and most celebrated of Grassic Gibbon’s great trilogy, A Scot’s Quair. It provides a powerful description of the first two decades of the century through the evocation of change and the lyrical intensity of its prose. It is hard to find any other Scottish novel of the last century which has received wider acclaim and better epitomises the feelings of a nation.” (Syndetics summary)