This film could have been a classic had not been by its truly horrid Alan Parsons soundtrack. It's really sad to have these archetypal mythic characters riding around accompanied by cheap keyboards and silly beats that wouldn't be out of place in a low-budget porn flick. The atmosphere is utterly ruined.

The movie certainly deserved a proper evocative orchestral score that brought to mind the medieval fantasy themes. Watch Conan the Barbarian or Excalibur and witness how the right sounds can be used to enhance a film's atmosphere.
Ladyhawke is a fantasy movie directed by Richard Donner that was released in 1985. The story that it is based upon was written by Edward Khmara, and the script was also written by him, Michael Thomas, Tom Mankiewicz, and David Webb Peoples. The movie stars Matthew Broderick before Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but after Wargames. It also stars the attractive Michelle Pfeiffer in the title role, and Rutger Hauer as her lover.

Ladyhawke is the story of Phillipe Gaston, nicknamed The Mouse, as he escapes from the dungeon of Aquila. This wouldn't have brought much of anyone's attention, except that he is the first person to ever escape. As he brags about his escape, he is found by the castle's guards and promptly rescued by a warrior, Ex-Captain Etienne Navarre. Navarre slowly explains that he wants The Mouse to lead him into the castle, because he has a matter to settle with the Bishop.

The Mouse finds out that Navarre wishes revenge and release from the curse that the Bishop placed on him and his love, Isabeau Dante. During the day, Isabeau takes the form of hawk while Navarre is human, and at night Navarre becomes a wolf and Isabeau becomes human. They are cursed to stay that way, always being together but always apart, until the time when day becomes night.

This movie is one of my favorite fantasy films of all time. It has its own small flaws, but it stands up rather well.

Matthew Broderick - Phillipe Gaston, The Mouse
Rutger Hauer - Captain Etienne Navarre
Michelle Pfeiffer - Isabeau Dante
Leo McKern - Imperius the Monk
John Wood - Bishop
Ken Hutchison - Marquet
Alfred Molina - Cezar
Giancarlo Prete - Fornac
Loris Loddi - Jehan
Alessandro Serra - Mr. Pitou
Charles Borromel - Insane Prisoner
Massimo Sarchielli - Innkeeper
Nicolina Papetti - Mrs. Pitou
Russell Kase - Lieutenant
Don Hudson - Guard on Cart
Gregory Snegoff - Cart Driver
Gaetano Russo - Guard in the Cell
Rod Dana - Guard at the City Gate
Stefano Horowitzo - Bishop's Bodyguard
Paul Tuerpe - Guard
Venantino Venantini - Bishop's Secretary
Marcus Beresford - Acolyte
Valerie O'Brian - Peasant Girl
NanĂ  Cecchi - Bishop's Woman
Elettra Baldassarri - (uncredited)
Jurgen Morhofer - (uncredited)
DVD Details:

Running Time: 121 minutes. PG-13

Special Features:
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Production Notes
Technical Features:
This DVD really doesn't use much of its capability, and has almost no special features to speak of. I don't recommend buying this for more than 10 USD.

More DVD Reviews
Everyone loved Isabeau, or at least lusted after her, including the Bishop of Aquila. But her heart belonged to the captain of the guard, Etienne Navarre. They began to see each other in secret; the only ones who knew were themselves and the priest they both went to for confession. That was Imperius the monk, who told the Bishop about their relationship, unaware of the trouble it would cause.

The Bishop was furious. He decided that if he couldn't have her, then no one would. He made a deal with the devil that cast a curse on the lovers: by day she would be a hawk, and by night he would be a wolf, "for as long as there is day and night, as long as they both shall live." In their animal forms, each had the mind of the animal, knowing only that a paricular human was special to them. For but a moment at sunrise and sunset, they can see each other in human form, not even long enough to touch.

And this is where our story begins.

Actually, it begins first with our third main character, Mouse, who is escaping from the dungeon. His insane call mate tells the guards exactly where he went, but they don't believe him, because Mouse went down a tiny drain in the floor of the cell.

Mouse swims through the sewers and comes up just outside of town. All through his escape, he is talking to God, and at one point he promises never to pick another pocket if God will let him get out safely. Having done so, he then cuts a purse and says that God of course knew what a weak-willed person he is and therefore didn't actually expect him to keep the promise.

With the help of Navarre, Mouse narrowly avoids being recaptured. Navarre makes him stay and travel together, stating his request for Mouse's help sneaking back into Aquila. The first night, they sleep in a barn, and Mouse sees Isabeau, whom he later calls Ladyhawke, and a large black wolf. It is much later that he finally understands what the situation is, and that's when his role becomes more than the comic relief that keeps this movie from being a typically annoying tragic love story. He begins to pass messages between the lovers, only he elaborates on them. It is his intervention (and lying!) that gives them the hope to go on.

During a fight with the guard, Isabeau is felled by a crossbow bolt, and Navarre sends Mouse to Imperius (who is now living in a ruined building in the middle of nowhere) to take care of her. Imperius tries to convince them that there will soon be a time that there is no day or night, during which Navarre and Isabeau can go before the bishop as man and woman and thus break the curse. Mouse believes him, but Navarre does not - he just wants to kill the bishop, although Imperius insists the curse can never be broken then.

To convince him to try, they set a trap during the night, so that Isabeau and the wolf will be together at sunrise, and Navarre will be willing to take the chance that Imperius is right. It works, and they enter the city at night with Navarre in a cage, supposedly to give him to the bishop, who has set a bounty on black wolves in the hopes of killing Navarre and getting Isabeau for himself.

After a stirring swordfight in the church, Navarre looks up to see that the sun is going dark. But he thinks they have already lost, and so he is about to kill the bishop anyway when Isabeau appears in the doorway and calls his name. She comes forward, and they force the bishop to look at them together.

As they are embracing in joy, Imperius tells Mouse that he wants to see him in Heaven, to which Mouse replies that he will be there, "even if I have to pick the lock."

The effects are fantastic for mid-1980's, and in fact, I think the movie on the whole benefits from the lack of easy CGI. Instead of showing Navarre morphing into a wolf, we see him running, frantically trying to remove his armor as the sun sets, then he disappears behind a hill, and the black wolf bounds over the crest. Instead of watching Isabeau's entire body turn into a hawk, we see her hand against the sun, rays streaming between her fingers, and then aflapping wing. They focus in on the eyes, changing from human to wolf or hawk, or back again. The scream of a falling woman shifts just a little to become the cry of a soaring hawk. It is in a way much more artistic, and better suits the mood of the piece, mystical and mysterious.

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