- Movie Rating -

Flesh + Blood (1985)

| August 30, 1985

I know nothing about how the medieval adventure Flesh+Blood got to the screen, but I suspect that someone has been keeping up with all of the recent fantasy adventures like Dragonslayer, Excalibur, Krull and even further Clash of the Titans and wanted to inject it with a dose of “the real.”  That’s fine but in creating the rotting misery of the time (it’s 1501) they seem to have forgotten that the people needed to seem like they lived there too.  There’s there is trash and dirt and disease and death tucked into every corner of this film but there is not a single actor nor a single like of dialogue that made me believe that I was really looking at a window onto the times.  At one point, someone comments on the Bubonic Plague.  Well, of course, this scourge was ravaging the landscape but nobody called it that for at least two more centuries.  Little touches like that pull you out of the movie, but it was far from the movie’s only problem.

Flesh+Blood is a stage for modern actors acting in a modern fashion.  Rutger Hauer stars as a knight who is in the midst of a love triangle between his lady love Agnes (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Steven (Tom Burlinson).  They both love the same woman, you see.  She seems to enjoy their rivalry but we are taken through motions of a Medieval adventure featuring combat, rage, revenge and sadly a disturbing amount of sexual assault committed against the women in the cast.  The movie is disturbingly creative in this area.

I think ‘creative’ would be the operative word.  The movie is disturbingly violent, dealing is heads being split open, exposed brains, bodies pierced by spears.  I know that this is suppose to be an exercise is the reality of the period, but Dutch director Paul Verhoven goes way over the top.  When we see a person’s body pierced with a spear, we get the point without all of the needless bloodshed.

Of course, none of this would be a problem if the movie had a focus, a narrative structure, or a destination.  Watching the film last night I got the sense that I was seen an exercise in graphic nudity and violence than I was an expose on a period in history.  There is no hero in this movie, there’s no woman to care about.  Everyone here is so morally reprehensible that we feel as if we’re always far away from the material.  I didn’t want to spend any time with these characters.  Flesh + Blood is a cold-blooded exercise in cold-blooded exercises.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1985) View IMDB Filed in: Action