It’s 12:32 pm
Everyone has a movie they had the best intentions of watching but for some variety of reasons never got to watch it. Life got in the way somehow and before you knew it,the movie was out of the theater.
Now in today’s world that isn’t a big thing,most films are hitting the sales floor in DVD/Blu Ray and you can quickly pick it up,grab some Jiffy Pop microwave popcorn,a huge glass of Dr. Pepper and away you go,right?
But back in 1985,this wasn’t a option. If you missed a movie,you had to WAIT a long time for the film to show up on network TV,many times it would take up to two years for a movie to show up on NBC,CBS or ABC. There were no 400 cable channels,VOD,Netflix and VHS was just barely starting to become somewhat affordable.
By now you can guess where I’m going with this….when Ladyhawke came out in 1985,I missed seeing it and for some strange reason,despite my best intentions,I never saw it,not even when our vast options of viewing a movie has made it possible.
As a diehard fanboy,I was sort of embarrassed by this and was worried my fanboy card could be suspended. Paladin was shaking his head at me and I knew I had to fix this.
Lucky for me,Warner Brothers Archives heard about my plight from the cheetah and sent us a copy of Ladyhawke to look at and to help save my fanboy union card.
Ladyhawke is a very interesting and quirky movie. It’s very rare that a fantasy film is set in the real world but that is the setting for this story.
The movie starts out with several people being hung by the order of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Aquila . The Captain of the Guard Marquet orders that the Mouse be hung next. Phillipe Gaston aka Mouse has different ideas as he is busy escaping down the toilet drain. Mouse manages to make good his escape despite the guards doing their best to find him but not before stealing a bag of cash from a unsuspecting guard.
Marquet reports to the Bishop that Gaston has slipped through and why are we so concerned about just one petty thief. For some reason the Bishop thinks that Mouse’s escape could spark a rebellion(!!!) and he must be caught and killed. Marquet says he will handle it.
We saw the Mouse travel through all sorts of terrain-prairie,forest and through snow covered hills. He finally stops at a small tavern and using the cash he stole,buys everyone a round of drinks only to find Marquet has tracked him down. As Mouse tries to escape,he is caught and just as it appears he will be killed,a man dressed in black shows up and rescues Mouse. Marquet is shocked to see the man in black and he bolts from the tavern and heads back to Aquila.
The man turns out to be Navarre,formerly Captain of the Guards,he has saved Mouse for one reason,he has escaped Aquila and he wants Mouse to show him how to sneak back in. Mouse doesn’t want to go back and understandably so but he owes Navarre his life.As the two start their trek,a hawk comes and lands on Navarre’s arm,resting.
At night,the two camp at a small house,the folks who live there don’t look the friendliest. Mouse decides he that he’ll take chances on his own and leaves when Navarre falls asleep. He starts to sneak away when suddenly a huge black wolf appears in front of him,growling. Mouse freezes and the wolf leaps forward and behind Mouse as one of shady residents of the house was ready to kill Mouse but the wolf kills him instead. Mouse retreats back into the house only to see a lovely young blonde standing inside. Mouse explains that there is a wolf but the woman ignores Mouse and goes outside where she talks to the wolf as they walk away together.
The next morning Mouse tries to explain what has happened to Navarre.
Marquet has reached Aquila and tells the Bishop that Navarre has returned. The Bishop is concerned so he sends for the master trapper,Cezar,to help him get rid of Navarre,once and for all.
Meanwhile Navarre and Mouse are having their own troubles. They run across a patrol and for a minute it appears they may have found a ally in guard once under Navarre’s command. But he is killed and Mouse and Navarre are fighting for their lives. The hawk swoops down to help them but accidently shot by Navarre and then Navarre himself is wounded. They beat off the attack and Navarre entrusts Mouse with the hawk and tells to go to the cleric Imperious in an old abandoned castle,he’ll know what to do.
Mouse rides to Imperious where he learns the secret of the wolf and hawk….that Navarre and Isabeau were cursed by the Bishop once he found out that they were married. The Bishop had wanted Isabeau for himself but when he couldn’t he made a pact with dark magic so that if the Bishop couldn’t have her,no one ever could hence the curse. Navarre is human in daylight and wolf by night and Isabeau is hawk by day and human at night. They can get about ten second window to see each other during the change but cannot touch.
Because Imperious feels guilty for what has happened to them,he has studied for way to break the curse…..but with powerful forces arrayed against them in MarquetCezar and the Bishop and Navarre himself,can Imperious and Mouse convince Navarre not to kill the Bishop long enough for their plan to have a chance?
As I said,Ladyhawke is quite different. Starting with the score which was composed by Andrew Powell and was produced by Alan Parsons of The Alan Parsons Project. The score is more like a 80’s rock song then a typical lush orchestra score you normally get in a fantasy film. Normally you would puzzled by this choice but it works pretty well and gives the film a nice little push.
Ladyhawke was directed and co-produced by Richard Donner(w/Lauren Shuler) who directed Superman and Superman II. He had a dickens of a time getting the film financed,twice he thought he had it ready to go but it wasn’t until Warner Brothers stepped in that Ladyhawke took off.
The cast….this and the last 10 minutes of the film is where Ladyhawke stumbles badly. We’ll let the viewers decide on what they think of the ending while we talk about the cast. First off,Rutger Hauer was perfect as Navarre,he was in the midst of his stardom here in America and he was very good here. Rutger definitely was the best actor in Ladyhawke. Matthew Broderick played Mouse and he was completely wrong for it,he was an American and he spoke like a modern day American. He was earnest but the New England accent was jarring whenever he spoke and it just didn’t work here.
Michelle Pfieffer was just beautiful,she looked perfect with her short hair which set off her eyes. But the screenplay written by Edward Khmara (who wrote the story),Tom Mankiewicz and Michael Thomas completely underwrites both Isabeau and the Bishop’s roles. They are onscreen but other then the most emotional moment of the film,Pfieffer only offers her considerable beauty.
Keep a eye out for a young Alfred Molina who plays the dastardly Cezar and Leo McKern plays the cleric Imperious with charm and heart.
Ladyhawke was filmed in Italy and the ancient castles and older buildings really help give the film a realistic feel,you can smell the dankness and feel the cold wind blowing through the walls. Its a beautifully filmed movie and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro,who has won 3 Oscars for his work,shows why he is a true master.
So while there some bumps and bruises in the last act of Ladyhawke,we still enjoyed this Warner Brother Archive release quite a bit. Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfieffer made a lovely couple onscreen,Alfred Molina was a pleasant surprise in his small role and the animal scenes were quite emotional. Ladyhawke is a keeper and if you haven’t seen it,don’t wait 32 years like I did to get around to doing so!! The cheetah and I gave this one a thumbs/paws up….
Ladyhawke is rated PG-13 and has a run time of 2 hours. This Blu Ray version doesn’t have any special features.
You can purchase Ladyhawke from the Warner Brothers Archives website.
How about you? Have you seen Ladyhawke and if so,what are you are thoughts about it? Did the cheetah and I get it right or get it wrong? Tell us in the comments below