With the sad passing of legendary character actor Rutger Hauer, most genre fans have pointed to Blade Runner as his most memorable performance. It’s true, the “tears in rain” speech will go down in the annals of film history as one of the all-time greats, but we would be remiss if we didn’t mention Ladyhawke.
If you haven’t seen it — which, if that is the case, what are you even doing with your life? — Ladyhawke is an '80s fantasy film starring Hauer and Michelle Pfeiffer as star-crossed lovers cursed by a vengeful bishop. After being denied the love of Isabeau (Pfeiffer), the evil Bishop of Aquila (John Wood) places a satanic curse on her and her love, Etienne of Navarre (Hauer): He is doomed to be a wolf at night, and she a hawk during the day. Can they break the curse and earn their happy-ever-after? While direction by Richard Donner, a synth score by Alan Parsons, and a youthful performance by Matthew Broderick place Ladyhawke very firmly in the '80s, the drama and the fairy tale elements make it a pretty timeless viewing experience.
Thanks to Game of Thrones, fairy tales with happy endings have fallen out of vogue, but sometimes it’s nice to remember that true love conquering all is a trope for a reason. This underseen gem is the perfect film for a Deja View, so strap in, folks. Things are about to get magical and vaguely French.
1. Honestly, more movies need overly stylized opening credits. Unless there’s an after-credits scene, no one sticks around at the end, so give the crew their due! If it’s slow-mo shots of a hawk while electric guitars wail in the background, even better.
2. Ladyhawke came out right before Ferris Bueller, and if this is the movie that got Matthew Broderick the role, I can see it. I would argue that Mouse is more likable than Ferris, but the charming dickishness is there.
3. This movie may be set in France, but it’s definitely leaning heavily on the classic “Every European accent is vaguely British” trope.
4. Mouse making deals with God is basically every millennial trying to cope when Mercury is in retrograde.
5. “No one EVAH escapes from the dungeons of AH ... QUIL-AH” has got to go down as one of the most underrated line readings of all time.
6. Call it a remnant from my religious upbringing, but Corrupt Man of the Church is a villain type that never gets old to me.
7. This seems like a lot of manpower for one petty thief, but that’s why I’m a blogger and not running a medieval army.
8. Theory: The crossbow is the most badass weapon of all. Discuss.
9. Hauer really is impossibly cool in this movie. Truly endless “do not f*ck with me” energy.
10. I have questions about these peasants. They seem to just … burn things? This does not seem like a viable means of supporting oneself.
11. I hope you all have seen the glorious romantic cliche meme going around Twitter. A gruff warrior who keeps a soft memento of their beloved is definitely one of mine.
12. “I’m still a young man, you know! I’ve got prospects!” = Me before I redownload Bumble after deleting it for the 17th time.
13. Everyone who has ever ordered too much takeout has pulled the “talking to no one to make it seem like a group” trick. It never works. They always know that the butter chicken, samosas, and garlic naan is just for you.
14. I take it back: You CAN look like a dweeb when using a crossbow.
15. Listen, I know that Mouse is attempting to punch way above his weight class here, but who wouldn’t shoot their shot with 1980s Michelle Pfeiffer? My god.
16. I understand that they are in truly tragic circumstances, but wandering the woods in a cloak with a wolf is the dream.
17. Honestly, why Wood as the Bishop isn’t at the top of every single Greatest Villains of All Time list baffles me.
18. A lot of fuss is made over actors effectively conveying emotion in front of a green screen, but imagine having to be convincingly romantic about a hawk without veering into Creepsville. Rutger Hauer walked so the Avengers could run.
19. Not enough fantasy movies have electronica scores, in my humble opinion.
20. “I am sorrow.” Now I’m the one with the wound. *sob*
21. Medieval antibiotics appear to be some kind of black paste, so yeah, I’m glad that I was born when I was.
22. Why yes, under all those pelts, it IS Doc Ock.
23. Backstory via tragic fireside tales is the superior form of wordy exposition.
24. I feel like this movie must be unknown to many fanfiction writers, because “always together, eternally apart” is the angsty subplot of ao3 dreams. Watch a movie that came out before 1990, people! This could be the new “there was only one bed!”
25. If anything can be said against Ladyhawke it’s the fact that it leans pretty hard on the damsel in distress trope, even if Pfeiffer manages to make Isabeau compelling despite this. However, I’d like to think her campily magnificent villain turn in Stardust is her way of leveling the scales.
26. Technical advances are great and all, but I feel like modern movies have forgotten the power of a simple yet effective booby trap.
27. Did Navarre have to take that shot on a cliff with a power stance? Probably not. Did he do that for us? Yes.
28. Is the moment when the hero says the title of the movie the worst or best thing?
29. Again I say, curse or no curse, who. Wouldn’t. Shoot. Their. Shot?
30. Listen, I like that they gave Isabeau some agency to go after Ceasare herself, but going after a dangerous hunter based on one bloody pelt (that isn’t even the same color as Navarre’s wolf, by the way) feels like a mistake.
31. Navarre immediately regrets making Mouse breakfast in bed.
32. Surely there was a better place to attempt this plan that doesn’t involve nearly drowning under the ice. I’m no expert at breaking curses, but there had to be a slightly safer option.
33. There’s no way Mouse wouldn’t have frozen to death. Someone help that boy!
34. Move your damn hands faster!!!
35. The angst in this movie is off the charts. F*ck me all the way up, Richard Donner.
36. Listen, cloaks are cool, but Navarre might be veering awfully close to Lenny Kravitz’s scarf.
37. The next time an eclipse comes and ruins your horoscope, just remember Navarre and Isabeau. A little emotional havoc is worth it for true love, right?
38. Is this the movie that made me a horse girl? This may be the movie that made me a horse girl.
39. Hauer spends most of this movie wearing a mock turtleneck and somehow … it works?
40. Everyone loves a spy flick, but there’s nothing like the drama of a sword fight. A slow-mo stab through your enemy’s gut? Iconic.
41. Pfeiffer deserved an Oscar for staring down the Bishop and throwing her bonds his face. Prove me wrong. (You can’t.)
42. LADIES: NAVARRE BROKE A SATANIC CURSE WITH HIS LOVE. EXPECT MORE FROM YOUR PARTNERS IN 2019.
43. Not to be cheesy on main but this reunion makes me cry every time. Screw irony. Make romance sincere again.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBC Universal.