Year released 1991
Directed by Lamberto Bava
Written by Francesca Melandri, Gianni Romoli
Italo Calvino (short story: "Fanta-Ghirò, persona bella")
Music by Amedeo Minghi
Editing by Piero Bozza
Film series
Next Fantaghirò 2

Fantaghirò or Cave of the Golden Rose is the first movie in the Fantaghirò series, released in 1991. The story is about rebellious Princess Fantaghirò who refuse to behave like a traditional princess, and how she falls in love with the prince of a rival kingdom, Romualdo.


Two kingdoms have been warring for many generations, though they no longer remember the reasons for the war.

The King of the one of the kingdoms is hoping for a son to continue his legacy, as he already has two daughters Catherine and Carolyn. On the night of his third child's birth he consults various soothsayers who assure him it'll be a boy, but the White Witch shows up unannounced and declares that it'll be a girl. The child is born and not only is the Witch's prediction proven true, but the Queen also dies in childbirth. The King declares that the child is cursed and is to be sacrificed to the Beast of the Cave of the Golden Rose, a creature that only eats girls. The King goes despite the protests of his daughters, but before he can kill his newborn daughter, the White Witch secretly causes his sword to be struck by lightning and broken. The King assumes that this is a sign from the gods and asks for forgiveness. He names his new daughter Fantaghirò and takes her back to the castle.

Fantaghirò grows up into a naughty child, refusing to be obedient or behave like a "proper" princess, unlike her sisters. As punishment for making a slingshot that she'd used to break her sisters' dolls, the King declares that she is to spend the night at the bottom of a dry well. Catherine and Carolyn send food to her, and Fantaghirò has the company of a white mouse, so she is not uncomfortable. Fantaghirò spends many years being sent down the well for various "crimes" until she is a grown woman.

Once all three sisters are grown up, the King deems that they should be married because he is getting old and needs someone to continue his line and keep fighting for the kingdom. He informs his daughters that they have the interest of three prince brothers: Issibel, Ossobel and Ussubel, who have sent rings as tokens to the three princesses. Catherine and Carolyn accept the gifts, but Fantaghirò doesn't. Angered, the King banishes her.

Fantaghirò flees into the woods, where she meets the White Knight, who teaches her how to fight with a sword, which is what she has always wanted.

Meanwhile in the neighbouring kingdom, the king has died and his only son Prince Romualdo ascends to the throne after being abroad for many years. While exploring the woods of his new realm he accidentally crosses paths with Fantaghirò, who is training archery with the White Knight. Her arrow almost strikes Romualdo and he chases after her into the undergrowth, but only manages to see her eyes before she makes her escape.

Fantaghirò returns to her father's castle just in time for the arrival of Princes Issibel, Ossobel and Ussubel. The princes turn out to be stupid, ugly and sexist respectively, which disappoints Catherine and Carolyn. However only Fantaghirò is willing to speak up to their father about how all three sisters are disinterested in marrying the princes. Humiliated, the King sends Fantaghirò to work in the kitchen as a servant. There, she befriends a talking Goose.

In the other kingdom, Romualdo is haunted by Fantaghirò's eyes, but cannot find her among the women of his kingdom. He turns his attention to more important matters, because his people are suffering due to the war. Against the advice of his close friends Cataldo and Ivaldo, Romualdo sends a message to his enemy king with a suggestion that the best three knights of both sides are to fight in combat and the loser will submit to the winning kingdom.

The King, who is also weary of the fighting, wants to take the offer, but his close advisor and confidante the General is against it, because he profits from the constant fighting. The General bribes the King's soothsayers to tell him not to take the offer. The King, however, calls the White Witch for advice, since she had been right many years ago when Fantaghirò was born. The White Witch tells him in a dream that only one of his daughters will be able to win the fight against the other kingdom's champions.

Fantaghirò is excited to hear about this new prophecy. Catherine and Carolyn are skeptical of their ability to win in combat, but Catherine is willing to try for the sake of her father, and Carolyn reluctantly agrees to follow. Fantaghirò spurs them on by cutting her hair short like a boy's, showing them her willingness to go along. The King charges the General to escort them and keep their identities secret, where the princesses will pretend to be men and wear full armor. Fantaghirò brings along her friend the Goose, who gives her advice.

On the journey to Romualdo's kingdom, the sisters have another argument. Carolyn has a lot of trouble accommodating the armor, and although Catherine is patient and understanding, Fantaghirò loses her temper and blames them for not taking their task seriously. The General overhears this and is pleased, especially when Catherine and Carolyn, upset at Fantaghirò's insinuations, leave camp. Fantaghirò eventually realizes that she keeps pushing everyone she loves away because of her stubbornness, and rides after them. The princesses reconcile, but Catherine says that she and Carolyn cannot hope to win any battle against trained knights. Catherine and Carolyn are confident that Fantaghirò will do far better, and wish her luck.

Romualdo, who is waiting for his enemy king's champions to arrive, is haunted by the memory of Fantaghirò's eyes. While in the woods with his friends, they cross paths with the Count of Gooseten, who is Fantaghirò in disguise. She refuses to give way and challenges Cataldo to a duel, and during the fight she falls over, causing the visor in her helmet to flip up and reveal her face. Romualdo is shocked and confused when he recognizes her eyes. Fantaghirò asks them to set a date for the duel, and rides off back to camp.

Romualdo cannot shake the impossibility that the Count is the vision that he encountered in the woods. Cataldo and Ivaldo try to distract him with beautiful women but he barely notices. He asks a beautiful dancer advice on what women fear most, and she tells him that it is the Beast of the Cave of the Golden Rose. Romualdo sends word to Fantaghirò's camp that they are to meet at the Cave.

Fantaghirò, who wasn't brought up with stories of the Cave or the Beast inside it, willingly goes. She is dressed up as a boy, and Romualdo claims that they are there to hunt the beast. Despite Fantaghirò's suspicion that he is delaying the promised duel, she goes along and enthusiastically enters the Cave, leaving the others behind. There Fantaghirò enters a sub-"cave" that turns out to be the Beast's mouth, with the "golden rose" being the Beast's uvula. She manages to escape by using one of the Goose's feathers to tickle the Beast and cause him to sneeze.

The hunt is a failure, but Romualdo doesn't give up on trying to uncover the Count's true identity. He challenges Fantaghirò to a swimming competition instead at a lake. In preparation Fantaghirò binds her chest, but pays a knight in her camp to arrive at the venue just on time with "news" that the King is dying and has summoned her immediately, so she won't have to disrobe. The Goose, who has been encouraging Fantaghirò to see beyond Romualdo's status as her "enemy", sabotages this plot and distracts the knight from reaching the venue.

At the swimming venue Romualdo taunts Fantaghirò's attempts to delay taking off her clothes, while he himself strips down to his shorts. Fantaghirò protests in various ways until Romualdo tricks her falling into the lake. Enraged, Fantaghirò picks up a sword and attacks him, and they fight. In the end Fantaghirò wins, but she is unable to kill him despite various people, including the General, insisting that she has to.

Fantaghirò runs away and swiftly rides back to her castle where she faces her father in shame. But the King, who has been watching the proceedings via the soothsayers' magic, is deeply proud of her. Still, he cannot let her "crime" go unpunished. Fantaghirò is lead to the quietest tower of the castle where she is to drink a special potion and look dead, thus enabling "Fantaghirò" to return while the Count does not.

Romualdo arrives at the King's castle, ready to submit and asking that his people be spared the King's fury. The King agrees that he will not subjugate Romualdo's people, nor will he kill him. He asks that Romualdo instead marry one of his daughters, so that their kingdoms can be united peacefully as one. However, Catherine is interested in Cataldo, and Carolyn in Ivaldo. Catherine remembers that Fantaghirò is in the tower ready to drink the potion, and drags Romualdo there quickly despite his insistence that he will not be interested in the mysterious third princess.

Fantaghirò almost drinks the potion but is stopped by the White Witch, who reveals that she has been many of the friends Fantaghirò has met and grown up with. She then tells Fantaghirò that Romualdo is coming, and uses her magic to make Fantaghirò look like a princess again. Romualdo arrives and is shocked to see who Fantaghirò is, and the pair kiss lovingly.

The film ends with the coronation. The King passes his crown to Romualdo while Catherina and Carolyn, who are now married to Cataldo and Ivaldo respectively, announce that they cannot find Fantaghirò, who is be crowned as well. They rush out of the castle and discover that Fantaghirò is arguing against the slaughter of geese, which she has become fond of. Amused, Romualdo has her coronation right there in the streets.

Cast and charactersEdit

  • Fantaghirò - Alessandra Martines
  • The King - Mario Adorf
  • Romualdo - Kim Rossi Stuart
  • White Witch / White Knight - Angela Molina
  • The General - Jean-Pierre Cassel
  • Soothsayer - Luciano Manzalini
  • Soothsayer - Eraldo Turra
  • Cataldo - Stefano Davanzati
  • Ivaldo - Tomás Valík
  • Catherine - Ornella Marcucci
  • Caroline - Katerina Brozová
  • Young Fantaghirò - Emanuela Hernandez
  • Young Catherine - Liza Hudrackova
  • Young Caroline - Lenca Kubálková
  • Chamberlain - Philip Licman
  • Governess - Stanislava Bartosová
  • Fire Thrower - Jan Morávek
  • Tonino - Pavel Chalupa
  • Drunk Soldier - Jan Zedvick
  • Issibel - Jan Kraus
  • Ossobel - Martin Faltyn
  • Ussubel - Philip Renc
  • The Queen - Katerina Frýbová
  • Dancing Girl - Simona Chytrová
  • Wizard - Jirí Patocka
  • Old Woman - Olga Schmidtová
  • Lake Nymph - Markéta Hrubesová
  • Cook - Antonie Hegerlíková

External linksEdit