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Saturday, August 18, 2007

Classic spoof: Robin Hood, Men in Tights

Trust Mel Brooks to come up with a spoof like this. This movie was preceded by the so-serious Kevin Costner playing the role of Robin Hood in a serious movie, and then this movie by Mel Brooks came. An incredible movie, without any doubt. I had a great time watching the movie, then watching it again, and again. This is not a movie that you just watch, you will still keep on chuckling after watching it.
Mel Brooks has made fun of a number of Hollywood concepts, such as the Kevin Costner movie (Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves), The Godfather, a Patriot missile (movie was made 2 years after the first Gulf War), a rabbi in place of the friar, the maid of the princess who refuses to let the princess do anything with Robin till she is married, then a mocking of the whole concept of the chastity belt, possession of an entire castle to pay for taxes, the naming of toilets, and so on. The whole movie is a laugh riot.

Robin Hood, Men in tights

The concept is similar to the normal Robin Hood movie. Robin is caught during the crusades in the Holy Land. He manages to escape, and swims all the way from Jerusalem to England (where he sees lettering on the shore, similar to the way Hollywood is written in big letters). In the meantime, in England, Prince John has taken over while his brother, King Richard is away fighting the crusades, and John is becoming a tyrant. Personally, he has suffered a big tragedy, with his parents died, his brothers died of the Plague, his dog was run over by a cart, his goldfish was eaten by the cat, the cat choked on the goldfish and that his family's castle has been taken by Prince John because of their failure to pay backtaxes. He has been left a necklace, with the promise of getting the greatest treasure in the land.
He meets his companions one by one, meeting Little John over a very small creek, and saves Little john when he is drowning in 6 inches of water. He meets another companion who can convert an oncoming arrow to sawdust with his knifes. He also meets the pretty Maid Mariam, who also falls for him. The Sheriff of Rottingham, also desires the Maid Mariam. To get rid of Robin, the Sheriff hires some Italian mobsters to kill Robin by organizing an archery tournament. In a scene out of the Godfather, the mobsters plan how to kill Robin, but their plans are leaked to Robin by Maid Mariam. In the archery tournament, Robin survives in the final, and eventually wins by firing a Patriot missile that beats his opponent's arrow. He is also revealed, and condemned to die by hanging.
In a compromise, Maid agrees to marry the Sheriff so that Robin is saved; in a last minute saving, his army of friends and villagers and saves the scene. Robin has a most interesting fight with the Sheriff. As they fight, including some shadow fighting when they are tired, eventually Robin wins. As he is about to get married, King Richard arrives back from the Holy Land, dethrones his wicked brother, announces as a punishment that all toilets will now be called Johns (after his brother's name), and then the Rabbi marries Robin and the Maid. Robin finally tries to use the key in Mariam's chastity belt, but it breaks.

Mel Brooks Collection

Documentary: Planet Earth - BBC Series

If there ever was a set of movie documentaries that you wanted to show to people, children, kids, etc. that showed the beauty of this earth, its wonders, and fears of what would happen in the future, this documentary DVD is the one. This 5 disc DVD version of the BBC series contains 550 minutes of coverage, essentially the 11 episodes. It has been stated by many to be one of the greatest nature/wildlife series ever made. Narrated by the British director, Sir David Attenborough, each section of the documentary covers either a specific habitat such as mountains, caves, deserts, etc or covers a specific geographical area. This is without doubt a must have series to be shown as part of the schooling / education of children, giving them a good overview of the world around us, its challenges, future, things that they are unlikely to see in the normal course of things.
This is one series that has to be seen to be believed of what the intrepid cameramen of Discovery Channel have been able to capture through their sheer perseverance in remote locations. The HD technology has captured some scenes and images never seen before and some seen before but never with this clarity and beauty. 5 years, 62 countries and 204 locations, over 2,000 days in the field, using 40 cameramen filming across 200 locations is what it took to make this series, and the result is a lifetime TV series. It would hook even full blown adults.

See a trailer of this series:

The series does not drill the message of global warming in your face, although you see it in the case of the polar bears, who are getting affected by the reduction in the ice pack, and hence losing their natural habitat. You get to see some animals about whom you would not have even known that they existed as, such as a rare species of leopard which no longer exist. The movie is set in nature, which includes the hunting by animals, so death is all around, but presented in a natural way. It might also quench the curiosity in many people about how such things are shot on camera, with the DVD containing a section on such nature filming. The series culminates with a section on the future, getting a set of experts in a discussion.

The series is available on DVD, on Blu-Ray and on HD-DVD: