1980s, 1980s cinema, 80s, 80s fantasy films, cinema, cult classic, Darkness, fairy tale, fantasy, film, filmmaker, Mia Sara, movies, princess, retrospective, Ridley Scott, Tim Curry, Tom Cruise, unicorn
Logline: A young man must prevent the Lord of Darkness from destroying the last of the unicorns and creating eternal night.
I first saw Ridley Scott’s Legend when I was about twelve years old and I was not impressed by the film and found it rather boring. Revisiting the film now, more than ten years later, does not alleviate the film’s pacing problems. However, I can appreciate Legend for its visual artistry and Tim Curry’s memorable performance as Darkness.
Legend is first and foremost, a fairy tale and was released in a decade in which fantasy films were quite popular. Despite this, Legend failed at the box office and was not received warmly by critics at the time. In the years since its release though, the film has gained a large cult following and it remains one of the most memorable fantasy films of the 1980s.
Like Scott’s prior film Blade Runner (1982), Legend suffered from studio mandated cuts. There are no less than three different versions of the film in circulation, including the U.S. and U.K. cuts as well as the director’s cut. It is generally agreed that the U.K. and director’s cut are the superior versions of the film. One thing that differentiates the U.S. cut is its music. Scott replaced Jerry Goldsmith’s beautiful score with Tangerine Dream’s music. He believed this would appeal more to moviegoers at the time. I like Tangerine Dream but their music does not befit the film. Whereas Tangerine Dream’s music feels dated, Jerry Goldsmith’s score lends the film a timeless feel.
No matter which version of the film you choose to watch, Legend is a deeply flawed film. The story is extremely thin and the characters hardly developed, making it difficult to become invested in the film. As it stands, Legend is a visually stunning yet hollow experience. The acting by the male lead, Tom Cruise, is pretty wooden and some of the dialogue cringe worthy. The editing is pretty choppy and the film drags in areas. Despite its shortcomings though, no one can deny the amazing look of the film. The production design and effects are top notch. Tim Curry looks fantastic as Darkness and his performance alone makes Legend worth watching.
Many people believe Legend to be a misfire for Scott and others adore the film. I stand somewhere in between those two camps. The film has its fair share of problems but on a purely visual level, is quite dazzling. If you enjoy fantasy films, do not hesitate to check it out.
Rating (out of ****): ***