Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Overlooked Movies: Ladyhawke

"I always considered Rutger as a heavy son-of-a-bitch, I couldn't see him as a real macho hero, the whole make-my-day kind of thing." ~Richard Donner

Philipe Gastone, a thief, escapes from the dungeon at Aquila, sparking a manhunt. He is nearly captured when Captain Navarre befriends him. Navarre has been hunted by the Bishop's men for two years, ever since he escaped with the Lady Isabeau who the Bishop has lusted after. Navarre and Isabeau have a curse that the Bishop has placed on them that causes Navarre to be a wolf during the night and Isabeau to be a hawk during the day. Navarre insists that Philipe help him re-enter the city to help him kill the heavily guarded Bishop.

A Magical Mystical Adventure
CURSED FOR ETERNITY...No force in Heaven will release them. No power on Earth can save them.

Fun Trivia:
Richard Donner originally wanted to cast Sean Connery as Navarre but since he was filming Never Say Never Again the part went to a younger actor Kurt Russell and Rutger Hauer was approached to play the evil captain of the guard. Rutger wasn't interested in his offered role, but expressed interest in playing Navarre. When Russell dropped out a few days before principle photography began (apparently he and Donner had creative differences), the part was handed to Hauer.

The breed of horse that Navarre rides is a Friesian Stallion named Othello that originated from the Netherlands, Hauer's native country. The breed was popular among medieval knights. Othello has recently passed away.

Matthew Broderick has an allergy to horses...poor Othello!

Warner falsely marketed the movie as being based on a true medieval legend. The screenwriter Edward Khmara took the issue to the Writers Guild Association and was awarded a cash settlement from Warner, but the medieval legend claim wasn't dropped.

In one scene, Navarre tells Philippe to ride his horse to Imperius' castle and slaps the horse's rear to make it ride. However, the first time the scene was filmed, Rutger Hauer slapped the horse too hard and it rode over the hill and into the horizon. The horse was too powerful for Matthew Broderick to stop and so all everyone could do was sit and wait for him to come back.

The movie is set in the South of France, and based on an actual astronomical event that occurred in 1239. Of course if the movie takes place in 1239 that means that Navarre's sword is a generation before it's time.

Apparently Hauer lost several pounds from doing the Cathedral battle scene, due to the weight of his armour and broadsword.

The sword, short sword, dagger, and crossbow from the movie are, on the wall above the fireplace in Richard Donner's family room.

Andrew Powell best known as a member of The Alan Parsons Project composed and orchestrated the score for this movie. The director Richard Donner has said he location-scouted with a steady soundtrack of Project's albums and married music style to pictures in his mind before the film was even begun. The electronic soundtrack however has drawn alot of criticism from those who feel the synthesized pieces clash with the medieval setting, though it has to be noted that the soundtrack also includes orchestral works and genuine medieval and renaissance songs. For instance the tune that Isabeau and Phillipe dance to in the stable is a genuine Italian 14th Century dance named Trotto by John Dowland.

In 1997's Conspiracy Theory, also directed by Donner, Jerry (Mel Gibson) runs into a theatre showing Ladyhawke.

Rutger Hauer on working with the hawks:
Their claws are very sharp, I noticed that right away. Their egos became very important, too. There were four hawks, actually. One was very sweet, two were so-so and the fourth was, ah, aggressive. None of them would hurt me, but when we first started shooting, the trainers warned me that if you stare at the hawks, they get uncomfortable and might go crazy. So, for the first couple of days, I was really worried every time I caught the bird looking at me.

They see everything all the time. They sit there with this amazing concentration. You can't ignore them. Besides, he was my co-star - I had to watch him. If they stare at you while you're playing a scene, you have to relate to it, otherwise you are denying the presence of the bird, and the bird is an integral character in the story. I think there were maybe 10 times where I would have loved for the bird to look at me so we could have a moment. Once the bird did, and it worked. We had a marvelous moment.

Fun Quotes:
Philippe: Sir, the truth is, I talk to God all the time, and, no offense, but he never mentioned you.

Imperius: What do you want?
Phillipe: I was told to bring you this hawk, father. It's been wounded.
Imperius: Good shot! Bring it in, we'll dine together.
Phillipe: We can't eat this hawk, father!
Imperius: What? Oh God, is it Lent again already?

Etienne Navarre: This sword has been in my family for five generations. It has never known defeat. Until now.

Etienne Navarre: This lady... Did she perhaps have a name?
Phillipe: Not that she mentioned, why?
Etienne Navarre: Well, she may wander into my dreams. Wouldn't it be nice, if I could call her by name and pretend we've met before? I've waited a long time for such a lady.

Navarre: Each generation is called upon to follow its own quest.
Phillipe: And what is your quest?
Navarre: I must kill a man.
Phillipe: Tell me--does this walking corpse have a name?

Phillipe: We have come full circle, Lord. I would like to think there is some higher meaning in this. It certainly would reflect well on You.


Anonymous said...

Our favourite line and I say this not to diminish the greatness of this film but it's a line done by an extra when Philippe steals some shoes.

"He's taking Daddy's shoes"

The extra delivers that line in possibly the funniest way I've ever heard a line delivered and I love him for it! Look out for the line next time you're watching the film and hopefully I'm not just mental.

Becca said...

I don't even want to tell you how many times I've seen this movie but I'm not sure if I ever noticed that line before! I'll have to go back watch for that.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I haven't thought about Ladyhawke in years. The casting of Hauer, Broderick & Pfeiffer doesn't really work; that's like putting Germany, New York and Malibu all in the Middle Ages together.

I also remember the contemporary electronic score being slightly cheesy, but I didn't realize Kurt Russell was originally cast in this. Terrific post, Becca. Rutger Hauer was the man, and at least he's heavy in the picture. This makes me want to watch Flesh + Blood!

Becca said...

That casting shouldn't work...but somehow it does.

Hauer is the man! He's maybe one of my 5 favorite actors, I even have his autograph hanging on the wall. Flesh + Blood is great! Have you ever seen Turkish Delight or Soldier of Orange? Great early Verhoeven movies with fantastic Hauer performances.

By the way great blog you have! I was hooked when I saw the Totoro in your banner.

Anonymous said...

I must have watched this movie a billion times. I have it on VHS and I watch it every time it's on TV.

I remember the 'Daddy's shoes' line. That was one of my favorites too, but my ultimate favorite line is where Imperius asks if it's Lent again.

Great post! Now I'll have to watch it again.

Becca said...

So many great lines! Glad to have inspired another viewing!

Cindy said...

This is a marvelous post. Glad to see I'm not the only one who loves this movie...I never knew Kurt Russel was the original cast star, I'm really glad Rutger got it!

I also love The Blood of Heroes. Do you remeber it?

Donna Shoup said...

I love this movie so much that my online name is Missladyhawke.

I love the kids line when he says that "he is taking Daddy's shoes"
My all time favorite line is

Phillipe: Are you flesh, or are you spirit?
Isabeau: I am sorrow.

My all time favorite scene is when they wake up together and they see each other and Phillipe is watching. I cry every time and I'm sure that I have seen it more than anyone here. I have it on DVD, VHS and on our DVR.
But I saw Michelle on 'Inside the Actor's Studio' a while back and she didn't even mention it.

Blackwing Rose said...

I love both the casting and the score, but then I'm a fan of the Alan Parson Project, so that could be why. This is still one of the loveliest films I've ever seen, with a perfect mix of romance, drama, adventure, and humor. I don't think Pfeiffer has ever been more beautiful, and this is my favorite Rutger movie ever. Ladyhawke and the Blood of Heroes have ensured I'll watch just about anything with Rutger Hauer in it, which means I need to get cracking on some of your other movie choices. :-)

Unknown said...

am i missing something??? I thought navarres sword gets lost in the ice, then it seems he uses it in the final scene....also, I think the soundtrack works really well because it is so jarring, it's a nice compliment to the period

firefly069 said...

Justin, the rescue of the Wolf/Navarre from the frozen water is the excuse Philllipe, Imperious and Isabeau pretend to lose the sword.without the sword Navarre's bloodlust for the Bishop is thwarted because they needed to break the curse. If the Bishop is dead, as Navarre desires and has planned for, he cannot look on them under the eclipse and break it. Pay attention to the dialogue!! No competition for who has seen it more proves the better fan ;) We're all fans!