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DURING THE 13TH CENTURY OF medieval Europe, a dark but fertile birthplace for fairy tales, a selfish and powerful Bishop (John Wood) rules the fortified town of Aquila. His corrupt heart is set on the ethereal maiden Isabeau Dante (Michelle Pfeiffer) but hers is already lost to the captain of the guard, Etienne Navarre (Rutger Hauer). Concealing their love, Isabeau and Navarre share their secret vows with the kindly but drunken monk Imperious (Leo McKern), who unwittingly reveals their romance to his superior.
Outraged, the Bishop's jealous obsession turns to madness and he calls upon the powers of darkness to separate the lovers. Although the couple flees Aquila, they are unable to escape his dreadful curse that transforms Isabeau into a hawk by day and Navarre into a wolf by night, thus 'together forever, eternally apart'. Doomed to a half-beast half-human existence, the pair is forced to endure a bleak life in the wilderness.
Until one cold day when the warning bells of Aquila are heard: A prisoner, Phillipe Gaston, a.k.a. The Mouse (Matthew Broderick) has escaped through the sewage aqueducts. Interpreting these events as a sign from God and hoping to end their misery, Navarre seeks out the escapee to help him break back into the heavily guarded fortress so he can kill the Bishop.
Supposedly based on a fairytale originating from the same century (obviously it's not a very familiar one), the tragic circumstances of this lost-in-history love story are sure to capture the imagination of romantics. Meanwhile, Mouse, who was imprisoned for thievery, also happens to steal the show from the rest of the characters with his comical presence, much like Falstaff in Shakespeare's Henry IV.
Filmed on location amongst some beautiful Italian ruins, the crew has painstakingly recreated medieval life. While some scenes depicting the harshness of the times (including a grim dungeon) may disturb younger viewers, the number of foes vanquished by vengeful Navarre with his crossbow and sword surely will. Perhaps families whose handsome heroes and fair ladies are of a little older age would be the best audience for this rich tale of love, loyalty, and redemption.
Ladyhawke (1985) is rated PG-13:
Cast: Michelle Pfeifer Matthew Broderick Rutger Hauer
Studio: (pictures (c)1985 Warner Home Video)