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  • Writer's pictureRebekah Olson

Analyzing Ladyhawke 6 core Questions

Screenplay By: Edward Khmara

Directed by: Richard Donner

1. What is the Genre?

a. External: Western

b. Global Internal: Morality redemption

2a. What are the Conventions and Obligatory Scenes of the Global Genre?

a. Conventions:

i. Harsh, hostile wide-open landscape is a “character”

Cezar and the Bishop both refer to a plague that has ravished the land. Aside from that, many of the scenes are snowy, cold, and harsh, and must be battled in order to survive (ie Wolf Navarre falling through the ice in the river).

ii. Hero, Victim, Villain: These three roles must be clearly defined throughout the story.

Hero: Gaston, Navarre Victim: Navarre, Isabeau Villain: the Bishop, Marquet, Cezar

iii. The Hero’s object of desire is to stop the villain and save the victim.

Gaston wants to help break the curse to save Navarre and Isabeau. Navarre wants to kill the Bishop to try and break the curse to save himself and Isabeau

iv. Hero operates outside the law (selectively or as a matter of course).

Gaston is a convicted thief. Navarre has been banished, returned though the punishment is death.

v. The power divide between the hero and the villain is very large. The Villain is far more powerful than the Hero.

The Bishop is wealthy, controls the people, creates the laws, has Marquet and all the guards at his beck and call, along with all the resources of the land. Gaston and Navarre are hunted fugitives.

vi. Speech in Praise of the Villain.

When Navarre states his life mission is to kill a man, Gaston assumes the mission completed in all but the deed, as he can see no one surviving an attack from Navarre. When Navarre reveals that his target is the Bishop of Aquila, Gaston flip-flops and tries to walk away because he knows it cannot be done and Navarre is the ‘walking corpse’ and not his intended target.

Imperious also gives an actual speech, “…a powerful man, a hated man, rejected even by Rome herself…”

b. Obligatory Scenes:

i. An Inciting Attack by the Villain or Environment

Guards enter the prison to bring Gaston to the gallows, only to discover he is in the process of escaping and had just gotten past their immediate reach

ii. Hero sidesteps responsibility to take action.

In the village when Navarre steps in to rescue Gaston, he hands Gaston his crossbow. Gaston obviously just dropped it as soon as Navarre wasn’t looking, because when he left the battle the crossbow was on the ground just outside the fight zone. While Navarre is fighting, Gaston is trying to snag a horse to flee instead of helping. Then when Navarre leaves the village on Goliath, Gaston sees him coming and sprints trying to get away, shouting, “No, no, no, no!”

iii. Forced to leave ordinary world, Hero lashes out.

Gaston keeps trying to leave. First at the farm, stopped when he tried to fight off the wolf. Again, when Navarre feels it necessary to tie him to a tree to make him stay the night. Again when he’s caught by the guards, tries to trick them into going the wrong direction, risks injury to warn Navarre, then assists in defending Navarre by throwing rocks at the guards who want to kill him.

iv. Discovering and understanding the MacGuffin (the Villain’s object of desire).

Gaston figures out that the hawk is actually Isabeau. He gets the backstory, and how the Bishop was mad for Isabeau’s attention, from Imperious.

v. Hero’s initial strategy to outmaneuver Villain fails

When the Bishop’s guards invade Imperious’ sanctuary, Gaston runs with Isabeau, trying to hide her and keep her safe, but instead gets trapped in a dead end.

vi. Hero, realizing they must change their approach to salvage some form of victory, reaches an All Is Lost moment.

Gaston tries to trap Wolf Navarre to force Human Navarre to face the Bishop the way Imperious advises. Instead, Wolf Navarre falls through the ice and Gaston must risk his life to pull him out, after which he is too tired, and there is not enough time to properly trap the wolf. So instead, he hides Navarre’s family sword to try and force him to cooperate.

vii. The Showdown, where the Hero and the Villain face off: the central event of the Western story and what the reader is waiting for. It’s the moment when the Hero’s gift is expressed.

The Showdown itself is between Navarre and Marquet, then between Navarre and the Bishop. He also reaches an All is Lost moment when the bell tolls, signaling Isabeau’s death. But this Showdown is only possible because Gaston used all his talents and risked his life to make it happen, and returned Navarre’s hidden sword.

viii. The Hero’s Sacrifice is rewarded.

Navarre and Isabeau are restored, earning Gaston their eternal gratitude, and Gaston is now sure he has God’s favor and will get into heaven when he dies.

2b. What are the Conventions and Obligatory Scenes of the Internal Genre?

a. Conventions

i. Despicable protagonist begins at his/her worst

Gaston is a thief. He even breaks a vow to God to never steal again within an hour of making it and doesn’t feel guilty for it.

ii. Spiritual mentor/sidekick

Gaston meets a monk named Imperious halfway through the movie, who becomes a guide and a pseudo mentor figure, someone he listens to and kinda-sorta obeys.

iii. Seemingly impossible external conflict

The only way to break the curse is through an ‘impossible’ scenario, made even more impossible because even if the conditions existed for a few moments, they’d have to fight through dozens of guards and get inside the locked cathedral in order to pull it off.

iv. Ghosts from protagonist’s past torment him/her

Gaston not only is constantly talking to God (even though God never interacts directly with him), he often refers to people in his past, their current absence, and the influence they had on him (or didn’t have when they should have): food that ‘Good Old Bertrum’ used to make when he is starving and cold, “Not for the life of my mother, even if I knew who she was.”, “My cell mate was mad, and a murderer, but he respected me…”

v. Aid from unexpected sources

Isabeau is healed by the very monk who betrayed her and Navarre “God” gives drunken Imperious a method to break the curse As adamant as Navarre is against cooperating with Imperious’ plan, he is the one who built them the cage to hold him in wolf form so they could pull it off. The guards outside the cathedral respect Navarre enough to put up minimal resistance and let him pass

b. Obligatory Scenes

i. A shock upsets the hibernating authentic self.

In the sewers, Gaston is so terrified he vows to God to never pick another pocket the rest of his life. Later in the movie, it is Gaston’s actions that result in Isabeau’s injury. This brings him to a place where he learns the desperation that Navarre and Isabeau experience, which is much greater than any misery he ever imagined suffering. It is after this that he first begins to act selflessly in concern for the needs of another.

ii. The Protagonist expresses inner darkness with an overt refusal of the Hero’s Journey call to change

After vowing to God never to steal again Gaston immediately picks another pocket, steals clothes, brags to anyone who will listen, then tries to run when Navarre saves him from the guards

iii. Protagonist faces an All Is Lost Moment and either discovers their inner moral code or chooses the immoral path

Trapped on a tower roof with Isabeau, she slips and is falling. Even with guards pounding at the door to try and break through to kill him, he stops seeking a way to save himself and does everything he can to try and save Isabeau instead.

iv. Protagonist actively sacrifices self in service of an individual, a group, or humanity (positive) or consciously chooses to remain selfish (negative)

Gaston risked his life and jumped into freezing water with Wolf Navarre clawing and biting, to push him out on top of the ice and save his life.

v. Protagonist faces literal or metaphorical death and either loses the battle but gains self-respect, meaning and peace; or wins the battle but loses those things

Gaston goes back down into the water under the cathedral, a metaphorical baptism which is a symbol of death and rebirth. He makes the battle possible but does not fight it. That glory goes to another (Navarre). And by doing so, he will never have a chance with Isabeau, someone he is obviously infatuated with. But he gains self-respect and walks away a free man.

3. What is the POV/Narrative Device?

Omniscient, close perspective beat by beat

4. What are the objects of desire?

a. External/Conscious:


b. Internal/Subconscious:


5. What is the controlling idea?

Justice prevails when a petty thief sacrifices worldly, selfish values in favor of the needs of others.

6. What are the: Beginning Hook, Middle Build, and Ending Payoff?

a. Beginning Hook – When Gaston escapes an unescapable prison, he finds himself in the company of a banished warrior with a hawk who is bent on killing the most powerful man in the land. Gaston must decide whether to assist or run to safety. When he tries to run, he is confronted with a wolf, the warrior is disappeared, and in his place is a mysterious woman who can control the wolf. Confused, Gaston pleads with God not to make him take part in such mysteries.

b. Middle Build – When Gaston again attempts to escape the warrior (despite the beautiful woman who keeps coming at night) they become embroiled in a battle and the warrior’s hawk is injured. Gaston learns of the curse of the two lovers and must decide whether or not to assist in breaking the curse for their benefit, or leave it and continue his flirtatious play with the woman at night. When he sees she will risk life and limb, facing villains by herself for the sake of the wolf (the cursed warrior), Gaston tries to convince the warrior to cooperate with breaking the curse, and ends up risking his own life in the process.

c. Ending Payoff – When the warrior finally cooperates fully, Gaston must navigate the maze under the villain’s stronghold to open the way for the warrior’s entrance. Inside, he has to decide to stay hidden and safe, or expose himself to the guards inside to get the door open. He gets the door open, then runs to fetch the correct weapon while the warrior battles. As a result, he gets to witness the breaking of the curse and earns the warrior’s and the woman’s eternal gratitude and gains a sense of honor and self-respect.

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