In medieval Europe, a young girl from a noble family is obsessed with her captors - commoners.In medieval Europe, a young girl from a noble family is obsessed with her captors - commoners.In medieval Europe, a young girl from a noble family is obsessed with her captors - commoners.
I happened to catch this 1985 film on cable. I'd never heard of it before, and found only a few reviews for it on the movie review query engine. That's a shame, because this is one of the most original of the swords/knights/princesses genre movies I've seen. Technically, it's not a medieval tale, as it's set in the 16th Century, but with the exception of some innovative period weapons, including an exploding barrel with a long fuse that sometimes goes off at the wrong time, the atmosphere is very much out of the dark ages. While the costumes, scenery and plot (a gang of betrayed soldiers seek revenge and kidnap a princess) are fairly typical, the subtlety of the characters and the moral ambiguity of the story are very atypical of Hollywood films. For one thing, it's very difficult to say who the bad guys are. The gang of kidnappers, led by Rutger Hauer, is churlish and brutal. Yet, they were badly mistreated at the beginning of the movie, so it's hard not to retain some sympathy for them. The princess, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is a similarly ambiguous character. She's loved by both Hauer and his enemy (played by Tom Burlinson) and she may or may not love one or both of them in return. Overall, what makes Flesh and Blood original is the fact that it doesn't romanticize the past. Life is portrayed as extremely harsh; people rape, kill and torture with impunity, and the threat of the plague lurks everywhere. It's a good antidote for anyone who, after watching one of the King Arthur movies, wishes they were a sword-wielding knight.
- Dec 11, 2001
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