Strong men, tough times, legends.
Anthony Hinde | Sydney, Australia | 07/02/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Family saga is usually the domain of female audiences but while there is no denying that "Legends of the Fall" is a family saga, it has the power to keep any demographic, over the age of ten, spellbound. Love and jealousy are still the central themes and yet the characters are so large that I doubt many people would not envy them, in some way at least.
The Ludlows are almost mythical Americans. They live a tough but free existence in the North Country. Ruled by Colonel William Ludlow, (Anthony Hopkins), a Father carved from granite, the family's three sons grow up to be almost as tough. And for a man who spent his last professional years fighting for the rights of the native American's, a son who has absorbed native culture, along with the best of western values, has to hold a special place in his heart.
Tristan Ludlow, (Brad Pitt), is the focus of our attention from the start. His wild and fearless spirit is guided by One Stab, the colonel's loyal Indian companion. It is One Stab that narrates Tristan's story and from him we learn that Tristan's destiny is entwined with his animal spirit, the Grizzly Bear. As a boy he dares an enormous sleeping grizzly and they take some of each other's blood. Interpreting his later choices through the moods of the bear is a fascinating idea.
The pace of events pick up the moment the youngest son, Samuel, brings home his bride to be. The beautiful Susannah, (Julia Ormond), manages to steal the hearts of all three brothers and the father as well, although he has the wisdom to act correctly. Samuel arrives with more concern for the growing war in Europe than for his new love. His desire to play his part in the fight is opposed by the Colonel, jaded by the Government's past immoral acts. But nothing can stop a young man with a cause. Despite his brother's protection he manages to fulfill his destiny, opening the door to further possibilities for his brothers, with Susannah.
She manages to set the brothers against each other and forces the eldest, Alfred, (Aidan Quinn), on a new path entirely; one that takes him to the U.S. congress, supported by less than honorable men. All of this makes for a heady brew, plenty of drama, powerful performances and broken hearts. For my money, the film wouldn't have been the same without Isabel Two, played by both Karina Lombard and Sekwan Auger. She waits patiently for her chance with Tristan to come. She and One Stab, form the calm center to the hurricane that is the Ludlow family. And like a hurricane, one you've been touched, you'll never forget "Legends of the Fall"."
Visually Stunning, Emotionally Engaging Film
Reviewer | 06/20/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
Melodrama at its finest
Johnny F | Philadelphia, PA | 11/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"When people ask me about my favorite movies I give them a quick run down of my top ten: 1. The Godfather and The Godfather part II (tie), 3. The Shawshank Redemption, 4. One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest, 5. Schindler's List, 6. The Silence of the Lambs, 7. Amadeus, 8. The Princess Bride, 9. Legends of the Fall, 10. Goodfellas. I am always surprised when they laugh at the 9th movie on my list. I can't understand why people think this movie is a joke. Yes, it's melodramatic but it works beautifully. Let me also say that I am not the biggest fan of Brad Pitt. His acting pales in comparison to some of the other fine actors of his generation (ie. Ralph Fiennes, Gary Oldman, Sean Penn). That said, he is perfectly cast in this movie. His ruggedness and wildman image were established in 1992's A River Runs Through It and his role as Tristan in LOTF seems almost like an extension of his role in River. I've heard that Johnny Depp, an actor whose talents I find superior to Pitt's, was originally offered the role of Tristan. I'm glad he turned it down for no one other than Brad Pitt could have BEEN Tristan. I've always appreciated great acting. To me, there is nothing more entertaining than watching a De Niro, Pacino or Nicholson work his magic. There is only one truly great actor in Legends of the Fall - Sir Anthony Hopkins. In my opinion, he should have won an Oscar for this supporting role. A lot of reviewers criticized the second half of his performance (after the stroke) as being a bit excessive. I thought it was necessary in this type of film.
It was because of Legends of the Fall that I took an interest in acting. Not because of Anthony Hopkins...i know I could never be half as good as he. LOTF taught me that it doesn't take great actors to make a great movie. I thought Aidan Quinn, a talented but by no means gifted actor, was brilliant in the film as the tortured victim of unrequited love. It's my opnion that Quinn delivered a top-notch performance in the film, second only to Hopkins. The scene in which Alfred (Quinn) redeems himself in his father's eyes is particularly endearing. Also, the casting of Julia Ormond as Susannah was a stroke of genius. She has such classic beauty and is wonderful at conveying emotions without speaking a word. I often wonder where the hell she disappeared to. Finally, I cannot say enough about James Horner's breathtaking score. I first became a fan of Horner's when I saw this movie and I believe him to be the top composer in the film-scoring business (yes, even better than the great John Williams). Don't listen to the critics. This movie is amazing. They just don't make 'em like this anymore."
A true masterpiece, but it's terrible under rated
retrowens | Alabama, USA | 12/17/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Legends of the Fall" is an epic set in the early 1900s about a close-knit family that randomly comes together and breaks apart. Tristan (Brad Pitt), Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and Samuel (Henry Thomas) have always been real close. One thing that all three brothers have in common is that they all go into war together and see how tough it is to experience such a struggle, even though their father, Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) doesn't like the idea. Another thing they have in common is that they all love Susannah (Julia Ormond).All of the characters in "Legends of the Fall" have their own separate personalities that can clash or come together at the drop of a hat. I could explain each of them, but that would give the movie away. Throughout the film, the different characters provide commentary about different events such as reading letters that are written, or telling personal thoughts."Legends of the Fall" won the 1994 Oscar for best cinematography in a motion picture, and it's true, this film does have spectacular scenery and landscapes, but that's the least that "Legends of the Fall" has to offer.There are both good times and bad times in "Legends of the Fall." Overall, it's a fairly depressing movie, but that's just because it's a realistic film about how jealousy and bad times such as war ruled the world back in the early 1900's, and probably even more these days.As I mentioned earlier, all of the main cast put out their absolute best effort in "Legends of the Fall." As always, I was the utmost impressed by Anthony Hopkins's performance. Brad Pitt, who was the main star in this film, puts out what is his best effort ever, in my opinion.I can tell when a movie is one of my favorites of all time by how much I want to see it after I see it for the first time, and especially by how often I watch it after seeing it several times. "Legends of the Fall" is one of those movies that never has and never will get old to me. No matter what kind of movie you like, even if you're not crazy about epics or dramas, give "Legends of the Fall" a chance. It just might become one of your favorite motion picture legends."