Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Warner Archive - LADYHAWKE on Blu-ray ""

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Warner Archive - LADYHAWKE on Blu-ray

LADYHAWKE (1985; Richard Donner)
This movie takes me back to my drive-in heyday. I know I saw movies at our local four-screen drive-in during years other than 1985 and 1986, but I have such a concentrated memory of seeing certain films there during that time. I specifically remember us leaving the drive-in as the last bit of FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF was playing out. I wouldn't get to see Matthew Broderick deliver his wonderfully quippy final lines to camera about the movie being over until later. And speaking of Broderick, LADYHAWKE was most likely the first film I saw him in. I remember being aware of WARGAMES around the time it came out, but I have this feeling that I didn't see it in the theater. I think there are a ton of movies from 1983 and 1984 that I didn't see theatrically because my family wasn't going to the movies as much then. In '85 and '86 I recall that my family went to the movies more. We went to the drive-in many weekends. I know a lot of folks associate the drive-in with schlocky genre and exploitation fare, but I always remembered it is this place where I saw big Hollywood movies. I saw BACK TO THE FUTURE, CAN'T BUY ME LOVE and others that would become the classics of my own personal lexicon. I would even seen Richard Donner's second 1985 film (GOONIES) at the drive-in during that summer too. So anyway, Matthew Broderick. At the time I found his cowardly character with a penchant for talking to himself to be quite funny. He really impressed me. Like I think I can recall him being the big standout thing about the movie for me (and this is a film with Michelle Pfeiffer mind you). I had a sense of how good he was and that feeling you get when you see someone who is going to be a star. I mean he already kind of was at that time, but I had no idea who he was. It wasn't until recently that I realized how much of a huge stage actor he was early on and how that was what led to his movie career. To me he was this nebbish dude in LADYHAWKE and the next year, the complete opposite as Ferris Bueller. For anyone who hasn't seen LADYHAWKE, just a quick warning that I'm going to spoil slightly here. I'm not sure how I must have felt about medieval films as a rule when I saw this, but this one had a kind of a twist that totally hooked me. At the beginning, we see Rutger Hauer's character introduced as a guy with a hawk (and a killer crossbow btw, which I also dug as a kid). That's during the day. When night fell, suddenly he vanished and Michelle Pfeiffer appeared an so did this scary black wolf. The next morning, Pfeiffer is gone and Hauer is back with the hawk. See where this is going? The day/night lover's curse thing was an interesting novelty to me at the time and the wolf gave the film the air of something more horror-like and obviously supernatural. I think I also enjoyed seeing such a distinct lack of bravery as one of the defining things about the film's main character. That kind of thing had been done before, but this was one of the first times I was seeing it. When I watch it now I see a little bit of Woody Allen in Broderick's performance (though that may or may not actually be there). When I was a kid though this kind of subversion of the hero of the movie was fascinating to me. It also made me feel like maybe this weakling could be killed or something and that probably pulled me into the move even more. So when I watched the film again on this new Blu-ray (which is gorgeous by the way), I had all these sensations come rushing back to me. It was like putting on a familiar album I used to listen to when I was younger and surprisingly being able to remember all the lyrics, even after not having heard the songs for twenty years. There were scenes and bits of dialogue that were as fresh to me as if I had watched the film only a week ago. This tells me a couple things. One is that, as I said, this movie really made some kind of imprint on me for one reason or another. And two that I must have watched it several times as a youngster. One thing I did NOT remember though was the score. Holy smokes. It certainly feels a bit out of place now. It is this synthy 80s near-rock at times and though I understand it was most likely done to make a period piece feel more modern, it is hard not to snicker at when hearing it now. I mean, it stands out so much that I can't believe it didn't stand out to me back then. But then I think to myself that this style of music was clearly in vogue in movies of this period so it probably just seemed more "energetic" than most but not out of the ordinary. That said, my nostalgia for this movie overrides any issues and I can easily get lost in it which is what happened this time. Warner Archive's  Blu-ray turn towards the 1980s is a welcome one and with the upcoming WOLFEN disc I do hope it's a trend that they continue straight on through the rest of this year. LADYHAWKE is a bit of a cult item now and I love to see a company like WAC give loving HD releases of 8os cult favorites. That is truly fighting the good fight.



Bonus: Matthew Broderick on working in the theatre - circa 1985:

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