Legends of the Fall

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Legends of the Fall

Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdward Zwick
Produced byMarshall Herskovitz
William D. Wittliff
Edward Zwick
Written bySusan Shilliday
William D. Wittliff
Based onLegends of the Fall by
Jim Harrison
StarringBrad Pitt
Anthony Hopkins
Aidan Quinn
Julia Ormond
Henry Thomas
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyJohn Toll
Editing bySteven Rosenblum
StudioBedford Falls Productions
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date(s)
  • December 23, 1994 (1994-12-23)
Running time133 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million
Box office$66,502,573
 
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Legends of the Fall

Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdward Zwick
Produced byMarshall Herskovitz
William D. Wittliff
Edward Zwick
Written bySusan Shilliday
William D. Wittliff
Based onLegends of the Fall by
Jim Harrison
StarringBrad Pitt
Anthony Hopkins
Aidan Quinn
Julia Ormond
Henry Thomas
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyJohn Toll
Editing bySteven Rosenblum
StudioBedford Falls Productions
Distributed byTriStar Pictures
Release date(s)
  • December 23, 1994 (1994-12-23)
Running time133 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$30 million
Box office$66,502,573

Legends of the Fall is a 1994 epic drama film based on the 1979 novella of the same title by Jim Harrison. It was directed by Edward Zwick and stars Brad Pitt, Anthony Hopkins and Aidan Quinn. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards and won for Best Cinematography (John Toll).

The film's time frame spans the decade before World War I through the Prohibition era, and into the 1930s, ending with a brief scene set in 1963. It centers on the Ludlow family of Montana, including veteran of the Indian Wars Colonel Ludlow, his sons, Alfred, Tristan, and Samuel, and object of the brothers' love, Susannah.[1]

Both the film and the book contain occasional Cornish language terms, the Ludlow family being a Cornish emigrant family.[2]

Contents

Plot

Sick of the betrayals the United States government has perpetrated on the Native Americans, Colonel William Ludlow retires to a remote part of Montana with One Stab, a Cree friend, where they build a ranch. Accompanying them are hired hand Decker; Decker's Cree wife, Pet; and their daughter, Isabel Two. Ludlow's wife, Isabel, does not adapt to the harsh winters and moves to the East Coast. Ludlow has three sons: Alfred, the eldest, is responsible and cautious; Tristan is wild and well-versed in American Indian traditions; Samuel, the youngest, is educated but naive and constantly watched over by his brothers.

At age 12, Tristan touches a sleeping grizzly bear. The bear awakens and slashes at Tristan, injuring him, but he stabs at the bear's paw and cuts off a claw.

As the boys grow up, Samuel returns from Harvard with his fiancée, Susannah Fincannon. She finds Tristan captivating, but loves Samuel. Before they can marry, Samuel tells his family that he is leaving for Calgary to join the Canadian Expeditionary Force, and aid Britain in the fight against Germany. Much to their father's displeasure, Alfred and Tristan also depart.

During World War I, the brothers find themselves in the 10th Battalion, CEF. Alfred, commissioned as an officer, leads a charge into no man's land. Tristan abandons his unit to be at Samuel's side. The attack is repulsed with heavy casualties, and Alfred is wounded. While visiting Alfred in the field hospital, Tristan learns that Samuel has volunteered for a dangerous reconnaissance mission. He rushes off to protect his brother but arrives too late to save him from being killed. Devastated, Tristan holds Samuel until he dies, then cuts out Samuel's heart, which he sends home to be buried on his father's ranch. Seething with hatred, Tristan single-handedly raids behind German lines, killing two gunners. To the horror of his fellow soldiers, he returns to camp with the scalps of German soldiers hanging around his neck. He is discharged from army service but does not go home. Alfred returns to Montana and proposes marriage to Susannah, but she declines.

Tristan returns home, where Susannah finds him weeping over Samuel's grave. Susannah tries to comfort him, and they become lovers. A jealous Alfred confronts Tristan and later leaves to make his name in Helena. Tristan's relationship with Susannah is doomed by his guilt and pain for failing to protect Samuel, as well as feeling responsible for driving Alfred away. These demons force him to go travelling for several years. At the ranch, Susannah waits for him but eventually receives a letter: "All we had is dead. As I am dead. Marry another." Alfred finds her weeping on the porch and tries to comfort her. Colonel Ludlow finds them together, leading to an argument and falling out between the Colonel and Alfred. Colonel Ludlow later suffers a stroke. He does not speak for years and the ranch deteriorates. In time Susannah agrees to marry Alfred, now a congressman. Alfred's business and politics cause him to get involved with the O'Banion brothers, bootleggers and gangsters.

Tristan returns during Prohibition, bringing life back to the ranch and his father. He accepts Susannah's marriage to his brother and later falls in love with and marries Isabel Two. They have two children, the elder being a boy named Samuel in honor of his late brother. Life seems to become normal again for Tristan as he finds true happiness in his young family. Tristan becomes involved in small-scale smuggling of bootleg liquor, finding himself at odds with the O'Banion brothers. Tristan's wife is accidentally killed by a police officer working for the O'Banions, and in a fit of agonized grief Tristan beats the officer nearly to death and has to serve thirty days in jail. Susannah visits, but Tristan refuses her advances and insists she "go home to Alfred". After his release, Tristan and Decker kill those responsible for Isabel Two's death, including one of the O'Banion brothers.

Susannah commits suicide after realizing she cannot live without Tristan. When the remaining O'Banion brother comes for Tristan, he and the corrupt sheriff are killed by Colonel Ludlow and Alfred as Tristan attempts to protect his father. Alfred reconciles with his father and brother. Tristan, knowing he will be blamed for the men's disappearance, leaves for the mountain country after asking Alfred to take care of his children. Over time, everyone in Tristan's life dies before him. As an old man, Tristan enters a clearing to investigate an animal carcass and is set upon by a grizzly bear. He draws his knife and fights it. As they struggle, the image freeze-frames as One Stab narrates: "It was a good death".

Cast

Production

Principal photography for Legends of the Fall began in mid-September, 1993.[3] The World War I battlefield scenes took two weeks to film and were shot near Morley, Alberta, with hundreds of locals and a few Canadian Forces soldiers recruited as extras.[4] Filming wrapped up around January 1994.[5]

Reception

Box office

The film opened in limited release on December 23, 1994 and expanded to a wide release on January 13, 1995. During its first weekend in wide release, which was a four-day weekend due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the film reached number one at the domestic box office after grossing $14 million.[6] After its initial run, the film brought in a final box office total of $66 million.[7]

Critical response

Legends of the Fall has received mixed to positive critical response. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 62% of 42 film critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 5.6 out of 10.[8] Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average score out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, gives the film a score of 45 based on 23 reviews.[9]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times described the film as "pretty good ... with full-blooded performances and heartfelt melodrama."[10] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone particularly praised Pitt's performance saying, "Though the admirable Quinn has the toughest role, Pitt carries the picture. The blue-eyed boy who seemed a bit lost in Interview With the Vampire proves himself a bona fide movie star, stealing every scene he's in."[11] Comparatively, Chris Hicks of Deseret News noted, "Pitt is the hunk of the moment, and Legends of the Fall will only further cement his big-screen, romantic leading-man status. And he is satisfying as the internalized, rebellious Tristan (look for that name to be given to more than a few babies over the next few years). Even if the character seems only a slight twist on the similar role he played in A River Runs Through It. (He even becomes a bootlegger!)"[12]

On the other hand, Rita Kempley of the Washington Post explained that the film's "...yarn doesn't so much sweep as sprawl across the screen in all its panoramic idiocy."[13] Janet Maslin of The New York Times commented, "Before it turns exhaustingly hollow, this film shows the potential for bringing Mr. Harrison's tough, brooding tale to life. And the actors may have captured the spirit of the story, but that's impossible to know." Maslin concluded, "These are performances that lost too much in the editing room, smothered by music and overshadowed by a picture-postcard vision of the American West."[14]

Accolades

The film was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Cinematography (John Toll), Best Art Direction (Lilly Kilvert, Dorree Cooper), and Best Sound (Paul Massey, David E. Campbell, Chris David and Douglas Ganton), and won the category for Best Cinematography.[1][15] In addition, the film was nominated for the Golden Globes for Best Picture – Drama, Best Actor – Drama (Brad Pitt), Best Director (Edward Zwick), and Best Original Score (James Horner).[16]

Home media

Legends of the Fall was first released on DVD on April 29, 1997, and once again on October 17th, 2000.[17] The film was later released on Blu-ray on February 8, 2011, with bonus content that includes: two audio commentaries, deleted scenes with optional commentary, and two behind-the-scenes featurettes.[18]

References

  1. ^ a b Hicks, Chris (13 January 1995). "Legends of the Fall". Deseret News. http://dn.familymediaguide.net/movies/2000000881/Legends-of-the-Fall. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  2. ^ Tristram, Hildegard L. C. (2007). The Celtic Languages in Contact. Potsdam University Library#Potsdam University Press. p. 204. ISBN 978-3-940793-07-2. http://books.google.com/books?id=VgBtaDT-evYC&pg=PA204&dq=cornish+legends+of+the+fall&hl=en&ei=JN_8TdnmHdCq8AOk6NWpCQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=cornish%20legends%20of%20the%20fall&f=false.
  3. ^ "Hopkins lines up Beethoven role". Reading Eagle: p. 51. 27 August 1993. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5_ghAAAAIBAJ&sjid=taIFAAAAIBAJ&dq=legends-of-the-fall&pg=2904%2C5435007. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  4. ^ "Reel Adventures Alberta Movie Maps". Alberta SouthWest. pp. 1–9. http://www.albertasouthwest.com/reel_adventure_movie_maps. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  5. ^ Ansen, David (16 January 1994). "The Flowering Of A Late Bloomer". The Daily Beast. p. 2. http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/1994/01/16/the-flowering-of-a-late-bloomer.html. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for January 13-16, 1995". IMDB. Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/chart/?view=&yr=1995&wknd=02a&p=.htm. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Legends of the Fall (1994)". IMDB. Box Office Mojo. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=legendsofthefall.htm. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Legends of the Fall – Rotten Tomatoes". Flixster. Rotten Tomatoes. http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/legends_of_the_fall/. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Legends of the Fall". CBS Interactive. Metacritic. http://www.metacritic.com/movie/legends-of-the-fall. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger (13 January 1995). "Legends of the Fall". Chicago Sun-Times. http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19950113/REVIEWS/501130302/1023. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  11. ^ Travers, Peter (13 January 1995). "Legends of the Fall | Movie Reviews". Rolling Stone. http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/legends-of-the-fall-19940101. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  12. ^ Hicks, Chris (17 January 1995). "Film review: Legends of the Fall". Deseret News. http://www.deseretnews.com/article/700001019/Legends-of-the-Fall.html. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  13. ^ Kempley, Rita (13 January 1995). "'Legends of the Fall' (R)". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/movies/videos/legendsofthefallrkempley_c0049b.htm. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  14. ^ Maslin, Janet (23 December 1994). "Grit vs. Good Looks In the American West". The New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A04E1DF1F38F930A15751C1A962958260&partner=Rotten%20Tomatoes. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  15. ^ "The 67th Academy Awards (1995) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. http://www.oscars.org/awards/academyawards/legacy/ceremony/67th-winners.html. Retrieved 2011-08-05.
  16. ^ "Golden Globes, USA 1995". Lucy Media. http://www.whosdatedwho.com/tpx_2871050/golden-globes-usa/1995. Retrieved 12 December 2012.
  17. ^ "Legends of the Fall". 9 October 2000. http://www.timefordvd.com/SR_LegendsOfTheFall.html. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  18. ^ Calonge, Juan (29 November 2010). "Legends of the Fall Blu-ray Announced, A River Runs through It in Regular Case". Blu-ray.com. http://www.blu-ray.com/news/?id=5536. Retrieved 12 December 2012.

External links