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The story takes place in a medieval France setting and starts with a young thief named Phillippe the Mouse escaping from an inescapable prison through its sewers. Said prison and the lands around it are controlled by a Corrupt Church led by a Bishop who is none too pleased to hear of Phillipe's escape (the prison is supposed to be inescapable, after all). The Bishop sends his soldiers out to kill Phillipe, but just as they catch up with him Phillippe is rescued by the mysterious Etienne of Navarre, who is accompanied everywhere by his Cool Horse and hawk.Navarre turns out to have been the former Captain of the Bishop's guards, and he has a score of his own to settle with the Bishop. See, the Bishop was lusting mightily over a young woman named Isabeau, but Navarre and Isabeau fell in love and when it looked like they would escape the Bishop, he cursed them so that by day Navarre would be human and Isabeau a hawk, while by night Isabeau would be human, and Navarre a wolf. As a result, while the two lovers may be together, they are always separated. Now Navarre is looking to get revenge, and to use Phillippe's knowledge of the sewers that lead into the Bishop's fortress to his advantage.The film contains a number of both veteran actors (such as John Wood, Rutger Hauer, and Leo McKern) and young actors who would go on to become household names (Matthew Broderick and Michelle Pfeiffer).
Annoying Arrows: Played with. Arrow injuries are deadly when Isabeau is shot in hawk form and still injured in human but Navarre just shrugs off one arrow because he's wearing armor.
Artistic License – Astronomy: There is a scene under a full moon. Two days later, there is what seems to be a solar eclipse (which requires a new moon).
Artistic License – Religion: A minor one that just requires a Hand Wave to fix — Imperius is described as a monk. A monk has not taken Holy Orders and thus cannot take confessions — he would need to be a priest to be able to hear confession and give absolution. (It is possible to be both a monk and a priest but you would be more likely to refer to yourself as a priest in the same way that someone with credentials as both a paralegal and a lawyer would probably not mention the paralegal part). The handwave: Imperius may have been a priest in the backstory then renounced his priestly vows after his crime of betraying secrets of the confessional - which he thought he did while drunk. He did not - Marquet did..
The Atoner: Imperius, the monk who helps Navarre and Isabeau. He feels at responsible for their curse because he accidentally revealed their love to the Bishop.
Badass in Distress: Navarre is surprisingly vulnerable in wolf form, having nearly fallen prey to a hunter, nearly drowned in an icy lake after falling through thin ice, and was nearly stabbed by a random guard for fun.
Badass Preacher: Imperius is technically a monk, not a priest, but he's still a formitable man of God.
Imperius: Thank you for trying, and for standing up for the truth. Phillipe: I should have known better. Every moment of happiness in my life has come from lying.
Also, he tells the truth to some evil guards and is still in trouble:
Phillipe: I told the truth, Lord! How can I learn any moral lessons when you keep confusing me this way?
At the end of Phillipe's and Isabeau's near-capture at the monastery:
Guard: Where's the woman? Phillipe: She flew away. Guard: WHERE IS SHE? Phillipe: God's truth, she flew away! Guard: YOU L-AAAGH!!! (Guard is shot by Navarre and falls.) Phillipe: (beat)... It pays to tell the truth, Lord. Thank you. I see that now.
Chekhov's Skill: Navarre scared Phillepe into helping him by throwing his sword like a spear into a tree. He uses the skill again to kill the Bishop when he was about to kill Isabeau in his breakdown.
Chew Toy: Mouse spends a lot of time in peril, and even gets bitten by Navarre in wolf form while saving his life.
Phillipe: I believe he was heading south, toward Aquila. Guard: Then we ride north, sir! Phillipe: It's impolite to assume someone is a liar when you've only just met them! Guard Leader: And yet you knew we would... we ride south.
Improvised Weapon: In addition to swords, weapons used include a bunch of horseshoes, an iron bar, rocks, the opponent's helmet, and a huge candelabra.
Incendiary Exponent: Averted. The captain of the guards is anything but badass when it's on fire.
Involuntary Shapeshifting: The curse upon Navarre and Isabeau forces them to transform between human and animal forms every dawn and dusk.
Ironic Echo: When Isabeau runs off towards danger, Phillipe mutters "He's going to kill me!" referring to Navarre. When Phillipe talks Isabeau into releasing him from where Navarre tied him up, she says the same thing.
I Will Find You: Etienne Navarre: "And know this - if you fail, I will follow you the length of my days. And I will find you."
Karmic Death: The Bishop is killed in the process of trying to stab Isabeau in the back.
Knight in Shining Armor: Navarre has this down to the timeperiod; a heroic and pious man who uses a sword to fight evil.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Phillipe regularly directly addresses God (but effectively the audience) as his personal confidante. None of the other characters notice, but he does go out of his way to put distance between himself and the other characters before talking to the camera.
Phillippe (to Navarre): No offense, sir, but I talk to God all the time, and He never mentioned you.
Magic Pants: There seems to be little consistency as to whether or not clothes transform. Both are naked on resuming to human form so it could be argued that there is just no need to see an empty dress falling off a little hawk.
Magic Realism: Apart from the curse, the setting is mundane medieval France.
The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: According to Imperius's description of the curse, neither Navarre or Isabeau are aware of their human selves while in animal form; Navarre in particular is quite vicious.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Though it saved Navarre, the only reason Isabeau was shot was because Phillipe threw a rock at the guard, causing him to accidentally fire into the air.
Non-Human Sidekick: Both Navarre and Isabeau are this to each other depending on the time of day.
Noble Wolf: Navarre's wolf form is firece and loyal.
Novelization: A novel was published based on the film, which included screenshots from the film illustrating scenes and an alternate ending where, once the curse is broken, the Bishop is turned into a wolf as punishment.
Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Matthew Broderick does an alright job for the first 15 minutes, then we're basically watching Ferris Bueller swanning about Medieval France.
What the Hell, Hero?: At one point, Navarre flips out at Philippe for supposedly losing his sword. He gets called out first by Mouse, who tells him he's being selfish with his fixation on revenge, but doesn't really snap out of it until he sees the cuts all over Philippe's chest— which he inflicted, in wolf form, when Philippe saved his life.
Yandere: The Bishop. He puts a cruel curse on the two lovers so they can never see each other. All because the woman doesn't want him.