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I am not a person who takes the word "favorite" lightly. This is a beautiful
movie! It is funny, full of action and Romantic (yes, with a capital 'R'.)
I saw this movie the first time when I was eleven, back in '86. It then took about four years before I saw it again, but I never forgot the feeling it left me with: This is heart-wrenching romance. I only recently bought the video. For some reason I have been unable to track it down sooner. Anyway, I pulled the video tape out of the box and, with mixed feelings, I slid it into the video. Would it be the same? Would it still move me? (Would the music still suck? *grin*) YES!!! It WAS the same! It DID move me! And: NO! The music felt strangely "right."
Yes, I would like to see this movie with a classical score, just to find out... But the "awfulness" of the score (btw, it's not bad all the way) only furthered the porcelain beauty of the visuals (watch the scene with the hawk flying over a still lake -- it's wings dipping into the water -- I get goosebumps), and the pure genius of the characters and dialogue.
Now, the main actors/actress:
Rutger Hauer: This, along with Blade Runner, is your finest work ever! Mr. Hauer delivers a top-notch performance as the brooding, cursed one-man army called Navarre.
Matthew Broderick: This WAS your finest hour. Yes, Mr. Broderick has given us suspense and laughter after Ladyhawke, but nowhere near his performance as Phillipe.
Michelle Pfeiffer: Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the most beautiful woman in the world? I do not mean "perfect", because that would be predictable. No, Mrs. Pfeiffer (Kelley?)is simply beautiful in an ancient sense. She is sprung out of a myriad of romance stories. There couldn't have been a better choice for this part. That innocence, that beauty. Isabeau comes to life in the incredible acting. Too little screen time makes you appreciate it even MORE when she enters the plot.
The rest of the cast is too good to be true. John Wood's Bishop, who only comes to "life" after he realises what is about to happen in the end. Before that he is only a shell of a man. And a big BRAVO! and a huge round of applause for the wonderful performance of Leo McKern as the massive, drunkard priest Imperius. Also watch for Alfred Molina in an, even for him, nasty role as the hunter Cezàr which he pulls off with his usual finesse. Bravo Mr. Molina.
Finishing up, I would like to mention, in brief, the equestrianship. It is wonderful. I know only a little about horses, but I know that those used in the movie are not your average show jumping ponies. *grin* The riders are incredible. I have not yet seen riding of that kind. They make it look effortless. They are one with the horse.
The comment to tip the scale (which is already tipped almost over to "What-are-you-nuts?-Haven't-you-already-seen-this?": ALL of it is made without computers!!!
As a former video store employee, I am proud to say of all the films I ever
recommended, LADYHAWKE came back with all favorable reviews, and not once
did anyone I rented it to take me up on my "money-back" guarantee.
No surprises there. Despite the production's troubled history between two studios (Fox and Warner's) and endless rewrites by an army of scribes, it still finds everyone involved at the top of their game, and early into most of their careers!
Rutger Hauer's bad guys were always more interesting and charismatic than his good ones, but his role as Captain Etienne Navarre was the noteable exception. In the best shape of his career both physically and artistically (with the exception of BLADE RUNNER'S Roy Batty), he painted the perfect portrait of noble hubris, tinged with the ache of unfulfilled love for his fair maiden, and the sorrow of an eternal curse that could never be lifted. Even Errol Flynn would've been envious.
Michelle Pfeiffer has been many things in her career: earthy, sensual, campy, courageous, but she would never achieve the combination of radiant strength and vulnerability that she did as Isabeau D'Anjou. There have been other actresses who have looked better and given deeper, more nuanced performances since hers...but it's a REAL short list.
When I saw the previews, I was pretty sure that the main thing I would like the least about this movie was Matthew Broderick, whose Philippe "The Mouse" Gaston was a character I was pretty sure would grate on my nerves. And for the first part of the film, he definitely does. Credit it to Matthew's likeability and talent that before the film's end, though, you're rooting for him as much as for the two leads.
And let's not forget an extremely impressive supporting cast: John Wood (WAR GAMES and JUMPING JACK FLASH), Leo McKern (the OMEN films and PBS' "Rumpole of the Bailey"), Alfred Molina (PRICK UP YOUR EARS, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK and the TV series THE LADIES' MAN) and a wicked turn by Ken Hutchison as Navarre's nemesis.
For the couple, the friends or the family who want action AND romance, too, you can't do better, (and can always do worse.) And as far as the "music" controversy is concerned, I am a longtime fan of Andrew Powell's work back from his early days with Alan Parsons, and later with The Project, and I thought that the juxtaposition of the contemporary music with the medieval setting worked perfectly. This is, after all, a fantasy, not a historical record of true events! Enjoy it for what it is!
Rutegar Hauer shines as Captain Etienne Navarre, a medieval knight and his
petite l'amour Michelle Pfeiffer as Isabeau his wonderful Lady Hawk. John
Wood plays an utterly nasty Bishop of Aquila. With Mathew Broderick as the
little thief and Leo McKern the priest who betrays the two lovers.
This movie stands out for music score, knights and fair ladies in distress, and characters that you can fall in love with. It will have you rooting for the good guys and yelling at the screen for them to vanquish their enemies.
This romantic fantasy is an escape for the real world to a place where love, honor, and courage are rewarded. Where true love is possible, and two people love each other more than life itself. A love like this is almost impossible today.
I adored this film so much that I have three copies of the movie and two of the soundtrack by Alan Parsons Project. I think the background music goes so well with what is happening on the screen. Each of the main characters has their own musical composition, and will make you cheer or cry.
Ever since I was a kid, I loved fantasy movies. As a matter of fact,
anything with sword fights was great in my book. And since I grew up in
the days before Lord of the Rings came along, my favourites were always
mid-to-late-eighties fantasy epics like The Princess Bride, Willow, and
It's all about an outcast knight and his lover, who have been cursed by an evil bishop to become animals during night and day, so they're never together in human form. He becomes a wolf and she becomes a hawk (hence the title). The knight enlists the help of a young thief to break into the cathedral and take his revenge on the bishop. Aside from the basic premise, it's more of a historical movie than a fantasy movie. There's no magic other than the curse, and no trolls or giants or anything, which was partly the reason I enjoyed it so much.
I've also always loved this movie for it's great storyline and interesting characters. Philipe's conversations with God still amuse me, as does the drunken monk played by Leo McKern ... It comes from director Richard Donner, who of course brought us Superman I & II, the Lethal Weapon movies and so on. This is essentially a well-directed movie, although a lot of people have issues with the choice of soundtrack. It's kind of a techno-poppy thing, which I blame NeverEnding Story for. A lot of eighties fantasy movies went with the same idea, but it works with Ladyhawke better than it works with most others, although I would of course prefer a more conventional and less intrusive score. On the whole, the sets and the props are pretty convincing, although some of the fight sequences aren't particularly great.
Here we have an early Matthew Broderick performance which shows how little his acting skills have developed since. Not that he's a bad actor, just an early bloomer I guess. Cult icon Rutger Hauer, of whom I have always been a huge fan (Blade Runner, The Hitcher, The 10th Kingdom) gives a fantastic performance as the outcast knight, and as we all know it's never a bad idea to have Michelle Pfeiffer in a movie.
You should definitely see this movie if you're a fan of the genre, or of any of the actors involved. It's a wonderful fantasy adventure for all ages.
What a great story. This has been one of my favorite movies since it
first came out. (I saw it with my best friend, who had a crush on
Matthew Broderick.) Anyway, it's a very stirring, timeless (except for
the music) story of love, heartache, hope and redemption. Wonderful.
Rutger Hauer is amazing. Strong, even frightening at times, but still tender and vulnerable. Of course Michelle Pfeiffer is at her absolute most beautiful. She really does seem to possess "the face of love" as Phillipe says. But Matthew Broderick really makes the movie. He's more than just comic relief (although he is hilarious); he keeps the story grounded. Without the character of Philippe the movie would be too ethereal, untethered. Philippe is the everyman--our connection to the magical beauty of Navarre and Isabeau.
I've heard that the story is based on a medieval legend, but I haven't been able to find it. If anyone has a link, please post it as a review on this site; I'd love to read more about it. Thanks!!
Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfieffer stunned me with their beauty when I first saw "Ladyhawke", a poignant vision of medieval love and longing. This visually-beautiful tale's cinematographers had filmed their hands, hair, and skin through dappled sunlight and shadows to emphasize their unearthly beauty. Matthew Broderick and Leo MacKern gave this magical story its humanity. Some reviewers have disparaged its musical score by Vangelis. I've always felt that it fit the mood and setting of the film. Rousing sword fights. One of my favorite movies of all time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I found this to be one of more likable medieval (13th century) fantasy
movies I've ever seen. It works because of the great mixture of action,
beautiful photography, likable lead characters, humor, touching
romance, suspense and no offensive language. Yes, here is an adult film
that everyone can watch, and that' no cliché.
Rutger Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer are handsome leads but Matthew Broderick, as "Phillipe Gaston," is the star of the show. He provides the humor and is involved in almost every scene.
There is a lot of "religion" in here, both shown positively and negatively. Broderick's character acknowledges God and constantly talks to Him. Hauer refers to Him, too, but Broderick is the talker. However, here is yet another case of a French Catholic clergyman being the evil "bad guy." (Is one ever shown in a positive light?) John Wood effectively plays the nasty " Bishop of Aqulia."
This is a "curse" story about two humans who turn into hawk (Pfeiffer) and wolf (Hauer) by day/night never seeming to be human at the same time so they can be lovers and live happily ever after.
It's interesting all the way, with my only suggestion that it could have been a "10" had it been chopped about 15-20 minutes in length.
Overall, though, a solid film and one that has been enjoyed by everyone I know who has seen it.
I think this film is a classic. Based on an old, European legend, this
movie is one of the best films ever made. The music was a bit
distracting and annoying, but the actors were superb. John Wood once
again delivers another wonderful villainous performance, while Rutger
Hauer and Michelle Pfeifer play the 'seperated lovers'. Matthew
Broderick gives a convincing performance as the Mouse.
It's a great flick that has both romance and action. It's a wonderful movie that both men and women will enjoy. Easy to follow and good special effects (for the '80's).
This movie is one to own!
Bishop: "I believe in miracles, Marquet. It's part of my job."
Richard Donner's 'Ladyhawke' tells a fascinating tale of cursed love
that separates two lovers like day and night (quite literally). What I
loved about this film is that even though it's a wonderful mixture of
action, adventure, romance and comedy, it is a simple film. The
execution is solid and it shows that Donner and his cast and crew have
put a lot of heart in the making of the film.
The score is kind of funny. At times there's a beautiful symphony that expresses the beauty of the settings and then, during the action scenes, there's the typical 80's hip track which brings a smile as it nostalgically reminds me of that wild decade. 'Ladyhawke' is indeed very beautiful to look at. The cinematography is superb as it gives a very spacious view and the composition of the shots are very well arranged.
No CGI has been used and that marvelously stands out as it gives the film a purer look and only reminds one of the days before CGI was overused, when cinema looked pure and authentic. 'Ladyhawke' is a fine example of movies that can look great and sometimes even better and more effective without CGI (other examples being the Star Wars trilogy (80's version), Indiana Jones etc).
The performances are topnotch. A radiant Michelle Pfeiffer completely owns the title role. Her understated performance and quiet yet strong presence (like a hawk) brilliantly contrasts Rutger Hauer's wolfish character. Hauer too does a fine job. An evil Alfred Molino is barely recognizable and Leo McKern wears the menacing look very well. John Wood provides some great comic relief. However, it is Matthew Broderick who stands out. He performs naturally as the vivacious, energetic, deceitful thief who loses his heart to Ladyhawke and at the same time he is determined to reunite the lovers and rescue them from the wrath of the curse.
Overall, 'Ladyhawke' is a beautiful movie that satisfied my filmviewing experience. It gives that nostalgic feel, it amuses, it fascinates and it feels enchanting. No wonder it still feels fresh after more than two decades.
It's funny - my two clearest memories of this film were off the mark in
completely opposite ways. I remembered Matthew Broderick being deeply
annoying; as it turns out he's just mildly irritating. And I remembered the
soundtrack being bad; but good God, it's *appalling*. Whoever decided that a
tragic, touching supernatural romance would be best accompanied by funky 70s
synthesisers (I don't think they're fitting enough to even be classed as
80s) should be forced to eat their own afro. Yes, all of it. I can honestly
say I have never heard a less appropriate musical score in my entire life.
It's not that it's bad, exactly - it'd probably work pretty well if the lead
character was, say, Shaft.
Still, when the crazy disco beats aren't violating the atmosphere, there's some good stuff going on. Richard Donner already had serious directing experience under his belt in 1985, and Ladyhawke is beautifully shot and paced with some gorgeous scenery to take in. There's just enough action (they give it some proper welly in those swordfights), John Wood provides a proper boo-hiss malicious villain, the dialogue never quite slips into melodrama despite teetering on the edge occasionally, and it's always a pleasure to watch Rutger Hauer in one of his few good roles before he degenerated into self-parody. (Well, if we're being honest it's a pleasure to watch him in his godawful recent stuff as well, but for different reasons.) Above all the film's got heart, which is more than you can say for 95% of the cack that Hollywood churns out, and it deserves some small credit for that at least.
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