Flesh and Blood (1985 film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Paul Verhoeven|
|Produced by||Gijs Versluys|
|Written by||Gerard Soeteman
Jennifer Jason Leigh
|Music by||Basil Poledouris|
|Cinematography||Jan de Bont|
|Editing by||Ine Schenkkan|
|Distributed by||Orion Pictures|
|Release dates||June 10, 1985SIFF)
August 30, 1985
|Running time||126 min.|
|Box office||$100,000 (USA)|
Flesh and Blood (stylized as Flesh+Blood) is a 1985 dramatic adventure film directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Rutger Hauer, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Tom Burlinson and Jack Thompson. It was written by Verhoeven and Gerard Soeteman. The story is set in the year 1501 in Italy, during the passing of the Late Middle Ages to the Early modern period, and follows two warring groups of mercenaries and their convoluted and longstanding confrontation.
The script is partly based on unused material for the Dutch TV series Floris, which was the début for Verhoeven, Soeteman and Hauer. The film was also known as The Rose and the Sword on early VHS releases.
In 1501, a city in Italy has been taken by a coup d'état while its rightful ruler, Arnolfini (Fernando Hilbeck), is away. Arnolfini promises mercenaries 24 hours of looting if they succeed in retaking the city, and they do so.
But in the middle of their revelry, Arnolfini wants them gone. Hawkwood (Jack Thompson), the commander of his troops, is caring for a young nun he mistakenly attacked during the siege. Arnolfini promises to get her medical attention and Hawkwood leads Arnolfini's cavalry, betraying his former lieutenant, Martin (Rutger Hauer). The cavalry ejects the mercenaries from the city without their loot.
Soon after, Martin's son is stillborn. Burying the infant unearths a wooden statue of Saint Martin of Tours – a saint with a sword. The mercenaries' cardinal takes this as a sign from God to follow Martin as their new leader.
Arnolfini's son, Steven (Tom Burlinson), is betrothed to Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh). They meet for the first time and eat from a mandrake to magically stay in love, but the entourage is then attacked and robbed by Martin's band. Arnolfini is seriously injured, and Agnes is hauled away, hidden among her valuable dowry.
Martin discovers Agnes later that evening when they strip the caravan of its valuables. The men seek to gang rape her but Martin decides to take her himself. He rapes her, but she taunts him, and later starts flirting with him, hoping for his protection.
The mercenaries encounter a castle whose inhabitants are suffering from the Plague. They capture the place with ease, with the help of Agnes. She induces Martin to fall in love with her and the other mercenaries to accept her among them. She seems to have given up on her former life.
But Steven is determined to win her back and turns to Hawkwood. Hawkwood only wants to live a quiet life, married to the former nun he had injured. Steven, becoming as ruthless as his father, seizes the nun to force Hawkwood to help him pursue Martin. They locate Martin and the mercenaries. They do not have sufficient forces to retake their castle but lay siege to it. Inside the castle, Martin asks Agnes where her true loyalty lies; she is noncommittal but hints that the winner takes all. Outside, the Plague spreads among Steven's forces and infects Hawkwood.
When Steven builds a siege tower to storm the castle, Martin destroys it with an idea Steven had tried earlier: gunpowder. Steven's soldiers are killed while he falls into the castle grounds. The mercenaries capture Steven and shackle him in their courtyard. Agnes joins in the abuse of the captive and even makes love to Martin in his presence.
Using a new medical technique Steven had learned, Hawkwood cures his plague. He cannot continue the siege alone but, before leaving to get additional troops, he catapults pieces of an infected dog into the castle. One chunk lands near the chained Steven, who flings it into the castle's water well. Agnes sees this and Steven says she must decide whether to tell the mercenaries.
Most of the mercenaries wish to leave the castle out of fear of the Plague, but Martin convinces them to stay. At the next meal, Agnes watches as they drink the infected water. But when Martin begins to drink, she slaps the cup from his hands. The other mercenaries soon show signs of the Plague and hurl Martin into the well. As she did before with Steven, Agnes joins in the abuse of Martin.
Hawkwood and Arnolfini have now recovered from their wounds and return with an army. Inside the castle, Steven needs Martin's key to escape his shackles, but Martin needs Steven to get out of the well. The two briefly cooperate, but on seeing the besieging army, Martin flees to the belfry. Steven frees himself and, as the final battle rages, races to find Agnes. During the fighting, the belfry catches fire. Before long, all the mercenaries except Martin are dead.
Martin confronts Agnes. She says she still loves him, but he prepares to murder her rather than risk her going back to Steven. Before he can, Steven attacks. Martin, a cunning and hardened mercenary, overpowers Steven. He almost drowns him when Agnes strikes Martin over the head, and she and Steven flee the blazing castle and reunite with Hawkwood.
Agnes and Steven embrace, but over Steven's shoulder, Agnes sees Martin escaping from the castle, a sack of loot over his shoulder. She says nothing.
- Rutger Hauer as Martin, a mercenary.
- Jennifer Jason Leigh as Agnes, virgin daughter of an aristocrat.
- Tom Burlinson as Steven, learned son of Arnolfini.
- Jack Thompson as Hawkwood (John Hawkwood), a captain of mercenaries.
- Fernando Hilbeck (es) as Arnolfini, feudal lord.
- Susan Tyrrell as Celine, a prostitute attached to Martin.
- Ronald Lacey as Cardinal, a visionary.
- Brion James as Karsthans, a mercenary.
- Bruno Kirby as Orbec, a mercenary.
- Nancy Cartwright as Kathleen, Agnes' lady.
Though the film received a worldwide release in the summer of 1985 in the United States, Orion Pictures gave the film a limited theatrical release on August 16, 1985, in Los Angeles and New York City. By 1986, the film was being shown in the U.S. on HBO, a business partner of Orion Pictures.
- Flesh+Blood at the Internet Movie Database
- Flesh+Blood at allmovie
- Flesh+Blood at the TCM Movie Database
- Flesh+Blood at Rotten Tomatoes