August 29, 2010

Legends of the Fall - 1994

Director: Edward Zwick
Writers: Susan Shilliday & William D. Wittliff
Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond

"Some people hear their own inner voices with great clearness and they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy, or they become legends." Colonel William Ludlow (Hopkins) and his sons Alfred (Quinn), Tristan (Pitt), and Samuel live out in the middle of nowhere Montana. Despite the objections of their father, the three brothers hop the border and join the Canadian military when World War I starts brewing, and the soon-to-be-married Samuel dies in a hail of German bullets. In addition to less severe injuries sustained by Alfred, the entire family is shaken by these events, notably Tristan. What unfolds is an epic tale of self-exploration in post-World War I western America.

Before seeing this film, I had never heard of Zwick, Shilliday, or Wittliff. Upon completion, I know why; in the dichotomy presented in the above quote from the film, they clearly fall in the "crazy" category, not "legends." Unable to cope with his self-supposed failure to protect his younger brother in the war, Tristan completely deserts his family (including the wife that was nearly Samuel's) to grow out his hair and beard and tour the world, cutting out the hearts of anything he can get his hands on, as he did to his brother's corpse (because the WWI dead didn't get sent home to their respective countries, apparently). The family that the story follows is a motley crew of accents, with Quinn sounding unplaceable, Pitt vaguely southern, and he pretty much always sounds. Oh, and the whole story is told by a Native American character that they mention would "never lower himself to speaking English." Ponder that for a moment. Said character also somehow outlives Tristan, even though he was already an old man in the 1920s when Tristan had just started his family. Legends of the Fall? More like Legends of the Fail. I would not recommend anyone waste 135 minutes of their life watching this. F

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