The 1980’s were fraught with multiple popular genres dominating the theater, everything from Horror to Science fiction, from action to animation, the theaters were in a free for all and that made this a decade to remember. One genre that took off pretty heavily were the Fantasy or ‘Sword and Sworcery’ films. Such films as Conan the Barbarian, Krull, Red Sonja and more were events that we waiting for. Then came along today’s film and, although it would gain a following, it was not one that many remember.
Todays Key Movie:
LadyHawke, Directed by Richard Donner, is a tale of starcrossed lovers who have been cursed to remain together but always apart. In this story we follow a young man named Philippe ‘the mouse’ Gaston who has just recently escaped from prison. Played by Matthew Broderick, Philippe is a ne’er-do-well and, as he is making his escape his is rescued by a mysterious man named Navarre (played by Rutger Hauer) and his hawk, Isabeau. Gaston soon finds out that Navarre and Isabeau are not what they seem, by day Navarre is a man and Isabeau is a Hawke, but by night the mysterious Navarre is transformed into a wolf while Isabeau is a beautiful woman (Played by Michelle Pfeiffer) who is his love. Hunted down by the bishop, Gaston, Navarre and Isabeau must work together to not only save their lives but lift the curse that has been cruelly placed on their heads.
Why this movie?
I remember seeing this film on VHS and wanting to watch it again as soon as it was over. It had such a magical property to it, much like the movie ‘Legend’, that I couldn’t quite put together. I did watch it again, many times in fact, and over time came to love the story of Navarre and Isabeau.
It is a story of love, loss and redemption but told in a way that I have never encountered before or since. I was already a fan of the principal actors in this having seen Hauer in Bladerunner and Broderick in WarGames. Pfeiffer would later become my favorite CatWoman in the 1992 Batman film. So it was a no brainer for me to want to see this in the first place.
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
This is one that may be an acquired taste for many people. It is unlike any of the other ‘fantasy’ films of its time and seems to want to be more than it is, all the while not being entirely what it wants to be. The main story is terrific, a cursed couple who are always together but forever apart is such a tragic and beautiful thing. Hauer and Pfeiffer have such a great chemistry even with the fact that they are not on the screen together for much of the film. Unfortunately the weak point in the film is Matthew Broderick himself as he tries to be funny but never quite finds his footing. Had the film either embraced it’s humor or allowed itself to be the serious tale it is, it would have been better for it.
Don’t get me wrong, Broderick isn’t terrible, in many ways he comes off as a likeable character and serves his purpose of being our connection to this universe well. You can really see the beginnings of his acting skills and, as it is very early in his career, he is really quite impressive. Sadly he really didn’t have much to work with and delivers a questionable accent all throughout.
The other weak point is the score itself. Relying heavily on 80’s prog rock in some of the most inopportune times, the score does tend to pull the viewer out of the film at times and sometimes makes even the most dramatic scene come off as campy. I really wish they had given this film a proper score as it would have served it well.
All this being said, if you can look past Broderick’s freshman years and the campy score, LadyHawke is a genuinely magical tale worthy of being considered along the lines of the tales of Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm. With gorgeous visuals and stunning cinematography coupled with a genuine tale of love and loss, It is a fantasy fairy tale that will stay with you and make you want to revisit it again and again.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This is one that you will likely run across from time to time in a DVD clearance bin. It is currently on sale on DeepDiscount.com for around $13 on bluray and you can also find it on many of your favorite streaming services.
If you are looking for something unique and enjoyable, give this one a try. I think you will be delighted.
of course, the trailer:
Late To The Game 7/19/2018
Thank you for reading today. I hope you enjoyed the review. If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and also a complete review of Star Trek Discovery. We also have a fun Retro TV Review series in which we are currently reviewing the entire Star Trek The Next Generation Series, episode by episode.
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