[personal profile] wingedbeast
Ladyhawke is the 1980's Middle Ages fantasy movie about a cursed couple. Both in love, the woman is a hawk during the day and the man is a wolf at night. When an animal, either can only think as an animal. They can feel for each other and even recognize each other, but cannot communicate. For nostalgia, I consider this a classic. On re-watch, I can consider it a tad confused with its tone, but I still say it's an entertaining movie to watch.

A character calling himself Mouse, played by Matthew Broderick, is both comic relief and our viewpoint character for the story. He's a thief of so slight a build that he was able to escape an otherwise inescapable prison by crawling through the drains. He's a capable thief, which keeps us aware of why he would be wanted in his position, and the comedy comes from him being in over his head and surviving through wit and luck.

The movie takes a passing look at the fact that, having been unable to communicate but always so close, there's a strain and can be a desire to find intimacy with someone else. But, that doesn't last more than about one scene, long enough for Mouse to find the way to be clear that nothing really happened.

Therein lies the wasted potential.

In the movie, this curse has been going on for years. The woman is able to calm and guide the wolf. The man is able to protect and guide the hawk. But, neither remembers their time as animals and both have been living and experiencing and adapting, more or less, completely independent of each other. That means that the only person they can love of the other is a years old memory of years before a curse that altered their lives.

Part of this is the limits of time. It's one movie and to take the time to really explore the psychological impact as well as the different personal evolutions could be to bog down the movie.

Another part is a problem that's as old as these fantastical tales, themselves, magical romance. This, I think, is the bigger problem. It's an assumption that lies in too much of our treatments of love, that it's a thing of fate and destiny, rather than small part attraction and large part building and maintaining connections.

Without giving away spoilers (because I do think the movie we have is an enjoyable watch) I don't think it spoils anything to say that, the moment the curse is broken, the two lovers kiss and the movie ends with an implied "they lived happily ever after."

I don't want to be a cynic. But, I think my Case for the Enchanted sequel includes my belief that a more realistic, less supernatural understanding of romance isn't cynical. It's a different kind of romantic, one that I think is not only more fitting to reality, but also more uplifting.

In the interest of having enough time, maybe this needs to be a series rather than one movie. (From Dusk Till Dawn did it and I'm on record thinking They Live can do it.)

The basic premise should be the same. Phillipe Gaston, AKA Mouse, makes a... not very exciting, but effective escape from the prisons of Aquila. Being brash and taking the risk of making a public toast to someone who saw the inside of that prison and escaped. He's saved from being recaptured and sent back to his execution by Etienne Navarre and that introduces both him and us to the major players of the story.

And, then, we get the fuller exploration of the characters and their motivations.

The Bishop that cursed the two lovers, because he couldn't have Isabeau d'Anjou for himself, felt betrayed. He had felt that doing the right thing, playing his part right, was supposed to grant him the rewards of happiness that he felt he couldn't have without her.

Etienne Navarre also feels betrayed by his fate. Being the noble hero was supposed to be rewarded with wife and children. But, this curse takes all that from him and he is embittered by a world he no longer feels gives just reward to virtue.

Isabeau D'Anjou feels a mixture of issues. Doing the right thing would only lead her to the same place, either way. She does love Etienne Navarre and, at first, being his wife might have made her content. But, now she's learned so much more about herself and her capacities (they don't need to be of the combat variety) that she doesn't know how she fits in and if she can play the role that, by the social narrative of the time, is supposed to reward her with happiness.

Phillipe Gaston, being a peasant and a thief, is intimately familiar with the reality that virtue isn't rewarded with happiness. When things go well, you can do well with it. But, things rarely go well and the world isn't just. He doesn't make it so, he just wants to survive and take a little happiness where he can. But, he does care and, in caring and having this more cynical view of fate, he does more than climb back through the drainpipes of Aquila. He helps the two navigate the realities they're faced with.

Beyond that, the problems with the movie are a matter of pacing and a matter of a score that both doesn't match the tone of scenes and is nigh-instantly dated. I'll leave both of those in more capable hands than I. But, I dare to say that would pull a great deal of value out of this... well, not a classic, but definitely an entertaining movie with some great potential to it.
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