There has always been something special about Ridley Scott’s Legend. Too bad it never gets the recognition it deserves. Maybe, with a new coat of HD paint and a look into the Director’s Cut of the film, people will recognize the movie for the unique fantasy that it is. Being the director’s fourth film, Legend marks the end of Ridley Scott’s fantasy phase of filmmaking. Previously he had scored cinematic points with The Duellists, Alien, and Blade Runner and – recognizing that the time to focus on reality was soon at hand – he commissioned fantasy writer William Hjortsberg to create a new fantasy story; something they could work on together to bring to life for generations to enjoy. Thus, Legend was born.
As an amalgam of all sorts of mythologies, Legend feels more closely related to The Brother’s Grimm as it deals with real darkness against a quasi good-natured world heroically represented by a young forest dweller named Jack o’ the Green (Tom Cruise). Jack is in love with a free-spirited young girl named Lili (Mia Sara), who gives in to temptation one too many times, and causes a unicorn to lose his cherished horn at the hands of some evil goblins sent out into the world by Darkness (Tim Curry). Always the nobleman, Jack and his team of faeries and elves and dwarves must restore light to his world, return the horn to the sick unicorn, and save Lili from the absolute corruption of Darkness.
While Legend reads as a children’s bedtime story – and certainly that was its inspiration – this is one movie that, if seen before bed, is bound to give kids and parents nightmares. Curry’s portrayal of the buffalo-horned bad man is as fierce as it is foppish. He’s massive and goat-hoofed, making him more demonic than his turn as Pennywise in Stephen King’s It. Curry excels at the camp and the devilish licks that it takes to portray Darkness; a physical embodiment of the idea that one cannot know good without the existence of evil. And his determination to turn Lili on and surrender herself to him and his evil is downright disturbing…and genuine.
Yet, the film wouldn’t work if the forces of good couldn’t (somewhat) overcome Darkness and his collection of mummies, witches, and hobgoblins. Cruise’s portrayal of the impish hero is a little cold and distant and doesn’t exactly express the humanity of the good side, yet he does physically meet the demands of the acrobatic role and adequately serves the story as the lone hermit that, ultimately, he is at heart. Sara’s performance is a bit weak in that her naivety speaks much more clearly than her innocence ever does. Doe-eyed and certainly graceful, Sara pulls off the part in a convincing manner – especially as her two-sided nature is made manifest after being seduced by Darkness.
Performances aside, the look of Legend is why this film is celebrated. Stocked with imaginative designs – wispy dandelion fluff and sparkling snow – the film is a physical world rarely seen. All filmed on an elaborately constructed large set on the walls and ceilings of the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios, the physical make-up of the world of Legend is intoxicatingly beautiful.
And, on blu-ray, it still is.
The film was not a commercial success upon its initial release in 1986 (after being delayed a year in America for a soundtrack re-working). While never truly deserving of its harsh criticism, Legend found its cult of followers among the kiddos who loved unicorns, magic and Dungeons & Dragons. The rest of the world turned their noses up and paid no notice of its air-filled cherry blossom petals or were simply put off by its dark undertones. Which, considering the amount of quality detail from production designer Assheton Gorton, is truly unfortunate; Legend was one of the last fantastically big physical production designs from Hollywood before, almost en masse, it and its actors and directors entered the consuming world of CGI.
MPAA Rating: This title not rated by the MPAA
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: William Hjortsberg
Cast: Tom Cruise; Mia Sara; Tim Curry; Alice Playten; Billy Barty; David Bennent
Genre: Fantasy | Adventure | Romance
Tagline: This is such stuff as dreams are made of. This is Legend.
Memorable Movie Quote: "The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity. "
Distributor: Universal Home Entertainment
Release Date: April 18, 1986
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date: May 31, 2011
Synopsis: The story is set "once, long ago" in a world of unicorns, princesses, fairies, and demons. Cruise plays Jack O' The Green, a woodland dweller who takes Princess Lily (Sara) to see the last of the living unicorns. But temptation and fate cause the world to freeze over when the male unicorn is seriously wounded and its horn broken off and stolen, and the female unicorn and Lily are kidnapped by evil goblins. Ultimately, it is Jack (with the help of a group of fairies and Elves) who must save Lily from the demonic, Satan-like Lord of Darkness (Curry), who wants to take Lily as his bride.
English SDH, French, Spanish (less)
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German SDH (less)
Available on Blu-ray - May 31, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.39:1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); BD-Live
Keeping in tune with its attention to detail, Universal has provided a lovingly restored new look at the film with their gorgeous 1080p transfer. The warm colors are bright and even in tone and constantly dazzling throughout the film’s running time. Shadows are strong and definite and never washed out during the film’s underground moments. With strong blues and leafy greens, Legend is a classic example of how blu-rays from another era can look if handled correctly.
- Director Ridley Scott provides the commentary on the Director’s Cut version of the film. For American audiences, this is the discs real treat. We’ve never seen this version of the film nor have we ever heard its original score, written by Jerry Goldsmith, not Tangerine Dream. Scott explains, in great detail, what happened to this print of the film, why it was changed, and leaves the original version alone for fans to watch and compare the differences.
The celebration of the film continues as the supplemental material is another winning feature of the blu-ray release. Armed with alternate openings, deleted scenes, and a nearly 60-minute making of documentary, Universal’s release is well worth the money.
The features of this blu-ray are as follows:
- The American Theatrical Cut (86 min)
- With isolated score from Tangerine Dream
- The European Director’s Cut (114 min)
- With commentary from Ridley Scott
- Creating a Myth: The Making of Legend (60 min)
- Two Lost Scenes (15 min)
- Byan Ferry, "Is Your Love Strong Enough" Music Video
- Theatrical Trailer
- TV Spots
- Photo Gallery