Flesh+Blood
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Flesh + Blood (1985) More at IMDbPro »Flesh+Blood (original title)

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The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags are used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for Flesh+Blood can be found here.

Betrayed by Lord Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck) after supporting him in his fight to regain his castle seized in a coup d'tat, Martin (Rutger Hauer) and his band of medieval mercenaries retaliate against Arnolfini by seizing a caravan of his supplies, not knowing that hidden within the goods is Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh), fiance of Arnolfini's son Steven (Tom Burlinson). Agnes quickly bonds with Martin but is eventually forced to declare her loyalty when the band holes up in a castle contaminated by the plague.

Flesh+Blood (aka The Sword and the Rose) was filmed from a screenplay by Dutch screenwriters Gerard Soeteman and Paul Veerhoeven (who also directed). Said to be inspired by The Wild Bunch (1969), a movie in which two former allies becomes enemies, as well as the Dutch TV series Floris (1969).

The movie was shot mostly in Italy and Spain, but is most likely set in the Algavan City Wars of 1450-1520. Europe in these times was in religious and political upheaval, but the battles were largely concentrated in France and on the Iberian peninsula; not Italy. Spain was still fighting the Muslims in the south, while different city states along the French/Spanish border and all along the Portuguese coast were fighting each other for different reasons. That the battles in the movie are of a more private nature is evidenced by the fact that only mercenary and city guard units take part in the fighting. No official state troops from France, Spain or Portugal of the time are present or involved.

With most of the mercenaries dead and Arnolfini and his army storming the castle, Martin backs Agnes into the bedroom chamber where he attempts to strangle her rather than let Steven, who is hot in pursuit, have her. The Cardinal (Ronald Lacey) attempts to kill Steven with a three-pronged candleholder but succeeds only in impaling himself with St Martin's sword and starting a fire. Steven stops Martin from strangling Agnes and, in the fight that follows, they both fall into the bath. Martin easily overpowers Steven and almost drowns him until Agnes hits him over the head with a wine jug. She fishes Steven out of the water, and they make their way through the burning room. Martin climbs out of the bath and tries to follow, but a falling timber stops him. As Steven and Agnes stand outside the burning castle, Steven assures her that she was right about the mandrake. "I never doubted it," Agnes replies. As they embrace, she notices Martin climbing out of a chimney. She says nothing. In the final scene, Martin climbs down a tower wall and walks away from the castle, carrying a sack of loot.

Her age is never given in the movie. Educated speculation puts her age at 15. There are several indicators for this in the movie: (1) The time period: During which, girls were little more than baby-making machines or political bargaining chips. Agnes is the latter. Because of this, girls were married off very early (sometimes even right after birth), but most of the time between the ages of 8 and 16. The church did impose rules on such marriages that the husbands would not take their marital rights till a girl was of sufficient age. But most noblemen often ignored these bans. If such a thing would be feared by the girls' parents, and to preserve the purity of such marriages, these girls were often sent into convents where they were taught little more than religious and general obedience to their husbands. Girls were typically released from convents at the time of their first holy communion, which happens at age 14. (2) Her name: St. Agnes was a Christian girl in Roman times who, rather than betray her faith and purity, was raped and subsequently killed by Roman soldiers. Different sources put her age anywhere between 12 and 16. (3) Paul Verhoeven has said that he cast Jenniefer Jason Leigh because she was of sufficient age to portray the sex and nude scenes legally but still looked like a teenager. From all these facts it can be derived that Agnes is anywhere between 14 and 16, most likely 15 years old.

Viewers are split on the answer to this question. Although Agnes clearly chose Steven in the end, some see her as simply opportunistic, a woman whose survival instinct will cause her to latch onto whomever has the most power to care for her. Others think that she really had feelings for Martin, demonstrated when she knocked the plague-infested water from his hand and again when she held her tongue as she watched him escape from the burning castle. Then there are those who feel every heart has room for loving two people at the same time.

Very. It is one of the few movies that correctly portrays the daily strife of the common folk and the liberties taken by nobleman by taking all the typical romantic Hollywood nonsense out of the equation. Other movies that portray these events similar are The Name of the Rose and The Pillars of the Earth. However, it has quite a few anachronisms and factual errors, for example in portraying the effects of the plague.

Thirty-five (35) seconds were removed from the rape scene, in other to have a rating of 18 by the British Board of film Classification (BBFC). UK viewers were not able to buy the unaltered cut before the DVD release by MGM. A detailed comparison between both versions with pictures can be found here.

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