What a great concept: two lovers (played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Rutger Hauer) are torn apart by a jealous, spiteful, and lustful Bishop, who puts a curse on the lovers so they can never be together as man and woman.  The curse turns Pfeiffer into a hawk by day and a woman by night; and Hauer into a wolf by night and a man by day.  Ouch.  Unless they’re into bestiality, there’s no loving happening there.  I can maybe see the wolf and woman thing; but the man and hawk is definitely out of the question.  Hey, you got to draw the line somewhere!

Like I said, great concept, but the execution is weak.   The first problem for me is the music: most of it is synth dance music, kind of like what you hear in “Footloose.”  Not exactly a good match for a sword and sorcery movie.  The second problem is the tone of the movie.  “Ladyhawke” is a lighthearted movie for the most part — despite all the swordplay, most combatants get kicked, pushed or thrown against a wall.  With Matthew Broderick playing a leading role as a thief who gets caught up in the lovers’ plight, it’s easy to tell from the start that this movie isn’t going to be too serious. Too bad, as I think “Ladyhawke” would’ve been better served with the seriousness of “Gladiator.”

Anyway.  Hauer decides to kill the Bishop so Hauer will at least find some solace in ending the life of the person who ruined his.  But a monk who is a friend to the shapeshifters tells them that if he kills the Bishop, the curse will last forever; and the only way to end the curse is to confront the Bishop as man and woman and call the Bishop out on what he did.  “Wait a damn minute,”  you say, “how can that happen with the curse still intact?”  “Go watch the damned movie,” I reply.  And you should, because it’s entertaining enough to be worthy of your time.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Broderick talks to God after stealing a soldier’s purse.  He tells God that he knows he just broke his promise of not committing crimes anymore; but that God also knows what a weak-willed person Broderick is.  Ha-ha!  I wonder how many of us have made a promise to God during times of desperation, and we get what we want, but then we go back on our promise and put a spin on what we did in order to justify our actions to God.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Ladyhawke” is the scene when Hauer and Pfeiffer are together as the sun rises, and for a fleeting moment, both see each other in human form; and then the final transition takes hold, leaving them in anguish once more because of their situation.  It is the best and most dramatic scene of the movie.

–M

 

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