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Avg. Rating: 4.15
Visually Stunning, Emotionally Engaging Film
According to the ancient lore of Native Americans, there is a story within each of us; the story of a life often guided by some inner voice, which some hear with great clearness. Some live by what they hear-- and such people become crazy. They become legend. And so it was destined to be for a young man named Tristan Ludlow, who was born toward the end of the Nineteenth Century and grew up in the wide open spaces of Montana, where his father, Colonel William Ludlow, had taken his family to escape the imperfections of a society ruled by a government he could no longer respect. "Legends of the Fall," directed by Edward Zwick, is the story of Tristan (Brad Pitt) and his brothers, Alfred (Aidan Quinn) and Samuel (Henry Thomas); a tragic story of the life they shared and the wounds they suffered, many of which were never to heal. And it's their father's story, as well, for it was he who raised his boys with only the help of his loyal friend, One Stab (Gordon Tootoosis), after his wife, Isabel (Christina Pickles), unable to withstand the harsh Montana winters, had left her family for the more civilized East Coast, never to return.
Colonel Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) had served his country during the Indian Wars, after which, disheartened by the government's treatment of those they had suppressed, the proud people of the Indian Nations, he turned his back on the "civilized" ways of his own people and carved out a niche for himself and his family in Montana. And it was there, on their ranch, that the boys learned the ways of the West and the ways of the Indian, under the tutelage of their father and One Stab. But of the three, only Tristan eventually heard that inner voice with such clarity that he could neither deny nor ignore it, and it awakened a passion within him that he embraced, and which set him upon the path he was seemingly destined to follow; a path that would ultimately affect the lives of everyone he had ever loved.
By 1914, Europe was at war, and the very tenets of truth and justice that had driven Colonel Ludlow away from society now compelled his sons to take a stand according to their own beliefs. Despite his recent engagement, Samuel decides to go to Canada and enlist in the army in order to fight for England. Alfred and Tristan refuse to let him go alone, and enlist with him. And in the desolate, muddy trenches of France, they soon learn the harsh truth and the reality of war-- just as their father had before them-- and by the time the war has ended for them, their lives have changed forever; Tristan's most especially. Back home, Tristan tries to settle down to life on the ranch, but the restlessness of his soul speaks to him of things he must do and places he must go, and the voices are too strong to resist. So despite the ties that bind him to the home and the people he loves, he sets out on a journey of self-discovery that eventually takes him, physically and emotionally, into places he never knew existed-- and away from the woman who loves him the most.
Director Edward Zwick delivers a sweeping saga of life and love with this film that is every bit as big and grand as the country in which it is set. He presents his story through the recollections of One Stab, the one who saw it all unfold, first hand. And it gives the film a narrative quality that is storytelling at it's best. Zwick had a vision of how to bring this tale to the screen, and he realized it magnificently, aided by John Toll's breathtakingly beautiful cinematography (for which he received an Oscar), Lilly Kilvert's superb set designs and James Horner's compelling, dramatic score. And most importantly, through the tremendous performances of Hopkins, Pitt, Quinn, Thomas and the lovely Julia Ormond.
Hopkins anchors the film with a brilliantly understated performance, creating a three-dimensional character who personifies the very iconoclastic ideals and principles he espouses. And Pitt gives one of the best performances of his career as Tristan; watching him, you feel that restlessness and conflict raging within his soul, and you can sense his passion as he seeks his direction in life. Quinn is also extremely effective as Alfred, the older brother, delivering an emotional and convincing performance, as does Julia Ormond, as Susannah, a young woman conflicted inside as she tries to sort out her feelings for the Ludlow brothers. Zwick knew exactly what he needed from his actors to tell the story he wanted to tell, and he managed to get it all, from the principals to the least of the supporting players; and it's all there on the screen-- the passion, the intensity, the love and the care. It's quite simply a beautiful piece of filmmaking by all concerned.
The supporting cast includes Karina Lombard (Isabel Two), Paul Desmond (Decker), Tantoo Cardinal (Pet) and Robert Wisden (John T. O'Banion). A visually stunning film that will touch you emotionally and stay with you long after the screen has gone dark, "Legends of the Fall," perpetuates the tradition of classics like "The Big Country" and "Giant." Engaging and memorable, it's a transporting experience, courtesy of the magic of the movies.
A Movie That Almost Lives Up to Its Grand Title
This is one of the most moving films I have seen in a long time. Believe me, unless you have a heart of stone, you will cry long and loud over the anguish of the two main characters, played beautifully by Brad Pitt and Aidan Quinn. Family values are at the root of this anguish, and there are many powerful and engaging scenes. I wanted to give this movie five stars, but it didn't quite live up to the implications of its grand title. The ending was a bit of a letdown as well, although it's an appropriate one for Pitt's character.
This movie seriously kicks ass. It's been my favorite movie for years and it makes me cry everytime.
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