Fantaghirò series (alternately titled The Cave of the Golden Rose) is an Italian fantasy film series consisting of five television movies that were released between 1991 and 1996.
It was produced by Reteitalia Productions and directed by Lamberto Bava, and filmed in Czech Republic and Slovak Republic. The series takes place in a typical fairytale and fantasy setting, featuring princesses, princes, witches, wizards and talking animals. The series theme song is Mio Nemico (My Enemy), composed by Amedeo Minghi.
Fantaghirò is captured by the Black Queen, who has been unable to perform magic ever since she helped Fantaghirò in the previous films. The Black Queen is about to cut off Fantaghirò’s head when she is suddenly sucked into an alternate reality where she has to join forces with a scoundrel named Aries in defeating a villain who eats children.
It has been rumoured that a sixth installment of the Fantaghiró series is in the making. According to reports, the producers of the original series wanted to make the sixth and final part of the saga, but because of the failure of Fantaghiró 5, the project was abandoned. Due to fan pressure and the cult popularity of the film series, the producers are considering ending the series with a proper finale.
Fantaghirò, portrayed by Alessandra Martines, is the main character of all five films. She is the youngest princess of three, though she is the leader among her sisters. She is outspoken, headstrong and never runs away from a fight. She is an impulsive troublemaker who likes to provoke her father and sisters, but underneath it she has a good heart. By the second film onwards she is accepted as a fighter who will do whatever it takes to protect her loved ones, even if that means sacrificing her own life. She has a strong romantic relationship with Romualdo, who was previously her kingdom’s enemy. They are married in the third film and adopt orphaned Princess Smeralda as their daughter. Fantaghirò has long red-brown hair which she cuts into a boy-cut in the first and second film, but in the third film onwards she only has the boy-cut. Fantaghirò tries to befriend all creatures and people she meets, unless they try to harm those she cares about. She is very forgiving and looks past physical appearances.
Romualdo, portrayed by Kim Rossi Stuart, is Fantaghirò’s true love. He falls in love with her when he sees her eyes among the foliage of the forest. He becomes obsessed with finding her, and is given a shock when he meets her properly for the first time, for she is disguised as a man. Eventually he learns that she is a princess and the two are bethrothed. They are due to be married early in the second film, but the ceremony is postponed when the Dark Witch kidnaps Fantaghirò’s father. Romualdo becomes the Dark Witch’s target, and she bewitches him to fall in love with her. Romualdo eventually regains his memories thanks to Fantaghirò and the White Witch. Then Romualdo turns into a statue early on, and is only revived near the end of the movie, when the pair are finally married. In the fourth film Stuart did not want to return again for the role, so Romualdo was transformed into the hideously ugly Fiodor, portrayed by Riccardo Serventi Longhi. At the end of the film, Fiodor is transformed back to Romualdo, and footage from the first film was used. Romualdo does not appear at all in the fifth film, except in flashbacks.
The Dark Witch aka The Black Queen, portrayed by Brigitte Nielsen, is a villainous character and fan favourite who appears as a devious witch who wants to destroy the love affair of Fantaghirò and Romualdo. She lures them to her kingdom by kidnapping Fantaghirò’s father, and then casts a spell on Romualdo to make him fall in love with her. Fantaghirò and Romualdo manage to defeat her and she is blown up into many pieces. In the third film her former minions Bolt and Lightning put her back together and revive her because Fantaghirò needs her help. Because the Dark Witch does help Fantaghirò, albeit reluctantly, her magical powers are affected. Then, she constantly tries to get back at Fantaghirò so she can be all powerful again.
Tarabas, portrayed by Nicholas Rogers, is initially a very powerful dark wizard who is feared by all magicians in all the kingdoms, but he discovers that it has been prophesized that a royal child no older than ten years will defeat him. Tarabas becomes obsessed with learning how he will be defeated. He crosses paths with Fantaghirò and falls in love with her, eventually asking her to marry him in exchange for reviving Romualdo, who has been turned into stone. In the end Tarabas lets Fantaghirò free from her promise and the two kiss once before Fantaghirò returns to her true love. Tarabas renounces his evil ways and lives in peace until the fourth film when he is accused of creating the destructive black cloud. Tarabas reunites with Fantaghirò to track down the source of the black cloud and discovers that it was conjured by his father, Darken. At the end of the fourth film Tarabas decides to let go of his love for Fantaghirò and stay with Princess Angelica of Tohor.
Xellesia, portrayed by Ursula Andress, is an evil witch and the mother of Tarabas. She is conniving, wicked, and tries her best to keep her son away from all things good and warm. In the fifth film she confesses that she has always loved Tarabas but had to keep her love hidden from him. She proves this by sacrificing herself so that Tarabas can escape to safety.
The White Witch, portrayed by Angela Molina in the first film and Barbora Kodetová in the second film, is a good witch and friend of Fantaghirò. She has been instrumental in protecting and guiding Fantaghirò ever since she was a baby, although the princess is not always aware of the White Witch’s involvement. The White Witch can transform into various animals, including a goose, a mouse and a cat. She also transformed into the White Knight in order to train Fantaghirò in the art of swordfighting. In the second film, the White Witch had to renounce her powers in order to free Fantaghirò from a magical promise she’d made. Although she does not appear in the later films, early in the third film it is mentioned that she retired to the country.