Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)

US movie (1985). 20th Century-Fox/ Warner. Pr Richard Donner, Lauren Shuler. Exec pr Harvey Bernhard. Dir Donner. Spfx John Richardson. Screenplay Edward Khmara, Tom Mankiewicz, Michael Thomas. Novelization Ladyhawke * (1985) by Joan D Vinge. Starring Matthew Broderick (Phillipe Gaston), Rutger Hauer (Étienne Navarre), Ken Hutchison (Marquet), Leo McKern (Brother Imperius), Alfred Molina (Cezar), Michelle Pfeiffer (Isabeau d'Anjou), John Wood (Bishop of Aquila). 124 mins. Colour.

A Land-of-Fable medieval France. Two years ago, when the Bishop discovered that the woman he desired, Isabeau, and the Captain of his Guards, Navarre, were in love, he made a Pact with the Devil to Curse them: henceforward Navarre would be a wolf by night and a man by day and Isabeau a hawk by day and a woman by night, so the two would have together as humans only the instants of dawn and sunset. One day Navarre saves the sneak-thief lad Phillipe from the Bishop's soldiers, led by Marquet. The soldiers wound the hawk, and Navarre sends Phillipe with it to the care of Imperius, the monk who drunkenly revealed the lovers' secret to the Bishop. But now Imperius knows a solar eclipse is due – a night that will also be day, so that both lovers will be human simultaneously. If they can confront the Bishop in human form together the curse will be broken – which, with the aid of Phillipe and Imperius, they do.

L is an epic of the old-fashioned kind: superbly photographed, often ponderous, and overall impressive. The Shapeshifting scenes are convincing without being specific. There are no profound subtexts here: they would be out of place. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.