Now, this is one of my favorite films, but there’s just one part of it that never made sense to me no matter how many times I watched it.
Navarre says he needs Philippe to guide him into the city. Why? Why on earth would he need any guide at all? Navarre used to be the captain of the guard. He must have lived and worked in the city for quite some time.
I think the idea was that once locked down it was a near-impenetrable fortress and only Philippe had ever figured a backdoor out ( and in ).
But that really isn’t the most inexplicable thing about this ( otherwise good ) movie. Rather it’s that the producers decided to go with the worst, most inappropriate soundtrack ever. EVER. Lord did it suck.
I went to see it at the movies with a friend, his sister, and their autistic brother. The autistic brother sat through the movie silently until the scene where the lovers are together for that moment when they are both human (you know, the romantic climax of the film, the most dramatic moment of the film) and he just started laughing loudly and hysterically as if this was the funniest thing he’d ever seen. I’ll never forget that.
Lo these many years ago, I rented Ladyhawke with a girlfriend who was really into werewolf stories and movies. She’d never heard of it, and I’d seen it several years before (lo, LO these many years ago) and remembered it as being pretty good.
She burst out laughing the second the music started up, and was unable to take the rest of the movie seriously. She said, “I was just thinking, what would make this dramatic scene of a medieval dude on horseback complete? Cheesy '80s synthesizers!”
Back to the OP, I agree with Tamerlane. It wasn’t as much a matter of knowing the city as knowing a secret way to get in.
The one thing that always bugged me was Matthew Broderick’s intrusive, anachronistic performance. At least the soundtrack I could mentally phase out, but he’s impossible to ignore. Obviously a pander to the teen demographic, he is half-a-dozen ways wrong for an otherwise magical film. In fact, this is true of any of his period film performances (Glory, The Music Man).
The best Richard Donner film ever, though that is admittedly not saying much.
Phillippe was the only person who escaped the city alive. Other than that, the only way out was in a coffin. Navarre obviously couldn’t walk through the gates of the city - he was a wanted man. He needed Phillippe to guide him in through the sewers.
“You can’t eat that hawk, Father!”
“Damn! Is it Lent again?”
I think it is the incredibly dated quality of the soundtrack that is most jarring, not that it was specifically done on synthesizer. One can certainly create timeless music using modern instruments. This movie is anything but timeless however.
This is the soundtrack equivalent of getting the Bee Gees to score Saving Private Ryan.
It’s truly astonishing how dated the music is. It’s not just that the music is played on synthesizers. That wouldn’t be so bad.
It’s that it’s intrusive and not conducive to the setting. The music has an agressive beat provided by an (obvious) drum machine and the music itself is reminiscent of early 80s disco. It’s just completely out of place.
Now get me some Enya or Clannad in there and we’re golden. Still out of period but not jarring if you know what I mean.
I happen to be a fan of Alan Parsons’ music, so I bought the soundtrack when it was re-released in 1995. In the notes, Richard Donner states:
"In Spring of 1983, we spen several months driving through the European countryside looking for the perfect medieval background for Ladyhawke.
“During the entire trip…we religiously played The Alan Parsons Project…it did not seem possible to make the film without their original and unique music…the score is a s special as Vittorio Storaro’s photography, as stunning as Michelle Pfeiffer’s beauty, as light as Matthew Broderick’s humor, and as powerful as Rutger Hauer’s strength. The music also became the love theme for the producer, Lauren Shuler-Donner, and myself who happened to fall in love during production, so you can see this music holds dear to both our hearts.”
Perhaps with this added background, Donner’s choice of music becomes a little more understandable.
For myself, I enjoy the soundtrack and think that it works for the movie, but I can see why others find it “jarring.”
One thing that bothers me about Ladyhawke: There’s a scene where the wolf/knight almost falls through the hole in the ice, and it’s all under the light of the full moon . . . and then, a few days later, there’s the climactic scene during a solar eclipse . . . Solar eclipses always happen during the new moon, because they depend on the moon being directly between the Earth and the sun, and then, obviously, the side of the moon facing the Earth is dark. You can’t have a full moon, and then have a total solar eclipse a few days later.