How often does one get the unusual delight of finding a film where Rutger Hauer plays an eccentrically garbed conservationist?
Correct answer: once (as far as I know)!
In A Breed Apart (1984).
To begin with: I’ve always been a fan of Rutger Hauer….
The poise and self-possession (not to mention that, ahem, “easy-on-the-eyes” quality!) of his black-clad, elegant, cool-as-steel knight in Ladyhawke was enough to outweigh the irritating mannerisms of his sidekick, the sometimes deplorable dialogue, and a soundtrack that probably gets my vote for worst I’ve ever heard. (All right – to be fair, he was assisted in his “save-this-movie” endeavours by a rather fascinating plot device, and by his animal companions: the significant hawk, & the stunning “black-Lipizzaner-style” prancing horse.)
In Soldier of Orange, he plays an altogether different character, who marries playful boyishness to stalwart dedication to the Resistance movement (plus wears a pair of glasses, just because!! But more on that in a later post….).
And of course, little need be added in praise of his utterly iconic, lithe, menacing, heart-breaking, brilliant star turn in Blade Runner, that happy cinematic possessor of one of the most moving monologues in any film, ever.
Now, on to A Breed Apart….
Is it a great film? Well, no. Is it a good film? Honestly, I’m not even sure! But it does have three things going for it:
- an environmentalist message (specifically, about eagles: the true stars of the film)
- Rutger Hauer’s sweet, shy, struggling character
- Rutger Hauer’s odd costumes
(And Kathleen Turner’s famous voice, and the sweet relationship between single mother & only son, and some beautiful shots of raptors….)
However, since this is a costume blog, let’s get on with the clothing! (Or off with the clothing, in a couple of rather-needlessly-risqué scenes… but leaving that aside….)
Rutger Hauer’s character, the improbably-English-y-surnamed “Jim Malden” (with a strong Dutch accent – but anyway!), starts out in full guerrilla garb, as befitting his status as a PTSD-troubled Vietnam vet now devoted to wildlife conservation:
Dark leather jacket, some sort of leather pauldron, steampunk-y goggles/glasses, and – wait for it – he even has a crossbow!
Talk about eco-warrior! 🙂
He even gets to ride a white horse:
In another scene, he wears mirrored sunglasses, fingerless gloves, some sort of shirt-&-vest outfit, and his omnipresent wrist cuff:
Other accoutrements include a neckerchief…
…and a BOILERSUIT!
(See my previous posts, for evidence of how much I like boilersuits… wore one yesterday, in fact! ;))
When his ally/nemesis, the slimy character played by Powers Boothe, advises him to “put on a suit or something”, he evidently takes the “or something” part to heart, because this is the ensemble he comes up with:
Hawaiian shirt? Check. Slightly-too-short pinstripe pants? Check. Suspenders? Check. Heavy-duty work boots? Check. (And by the way, I love it that this reclusive, misanthropic character simply doesn’t own any other shoes – bravo for a welcome nod to realism!)
And to go along with all this, we are treated to a nuanced, quirky, thoughtfully acted portrayal of a very unusual hero… complete with this sweet, songful moment!
But as I mentioned earlier… the true stars of this film? The glorious bald eagles, to whose protection Hauer’s character is devoted:
It’s very rewarding (and so timely, given the current state of our fragile ecosystem) to watch a film with an unabashed message about the urgent need for conservation of our fellow creatures!
And according to the all-knowing Wiki, Rutger Hauer was himself an environmentalist, on the board of the Sea Shepherd Society.
Yes, “was”. 😦
Being a bit behind with the news, I only just found out that Rutger Hauer recently passed away. So this post is also a tribute to him…. Rest in peace, beautiful man!
~ Costume Design: John Boxer ~