Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Legend (1985) Review

Legend poster art

Legend directed by Ridley Scott is a high fantasy film starring Tom Cruise as Jack, a young recluse living among a forest filled with fairies, unicorns, goblins and demons. Jack being one of a very few whom can locate the mythical unicorns takes young love Princess Lily (Mia Sara) to view the creatures unaware that he is being followed by goblin Blix and her minions. As the unicorns approach Lily attempts to touch one against the expressed orders of Jack. The goblins fire a poison arrow at the unicorn hitting the beast. The unicorns run leaving Lily shaken and Jack scolding the Princess for ignoring his warnings.

Upon finding the unicorn dead from the venom, Blix cuts off its horn which descends the forest into a dark snowstorm untouchable by light. Lily is eventually captured by the goblins and along with the surviving unicorn are taken to the Lord of Darkness. Jack, with the help of Honeythorn Gump (an elf), Oona (a fairy) and Screwball and Brown Tom (dwarves) attempts to rescue Lily from the clutches of evil and undo all wrongs.

A lot of time and attention to detail has clearly been invested in the films production design and visual concepts. Light and colour value are a key theme in Legend, perhaps to depict the struggle between light and darkness as well as to express colour association. Consider the moment where the unicorn approaches Lily, there is an almost luminescent white glow shining onto the creature almost suggesting an aura of purity. Although the set of Legend is inspiring the plot and story progression somewhat lets the film down "All the special effects in the world, and all the great makeup, and all the muppet creatures can't save a movie that has no clear idea of its own mission". (Ebert:1986) This is also the case with the special effects which seem to be so over the top they take away from the magical setting. "The movie is enchanting and has moments of magic, but it's an utter train wreck, overwhelmed by cheesy special effects, dialogue writ insanely large, and a kind of goofy plot." (Null: 2002).

Perhaps it was intentional on the part of Ridley Scott having such one dimensional characters and the acting being over dramatised.This arguably was his interpretation of how characters in a mythical, high fantasy world would look/behave. However it almost feels like a waste of an inspiring production design when the poor acting has completely over shadowed everything that was impressive in the film. "With LEGEND, he offered up a piece of evidence that seemed to support his critic’s contention: the film is a visually beautiful evocation of a fantasy world (with amazing costumes, sets, and creature makeup), but it is dramatically lifeless." (Biodrowski:2009)

List of Illustrations

Fig.1 Lily and the Unicorn
Fig.2 Jack with Gump
Fig.3 Lily dressed by the Darkness



Ebert.R of The Chicago Times (Published Apr 18th 1986) http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19860418/REVIEWS/604180302 (Accessed Nov 23rd 2011)

Null.C of Filmcritic (Published Jan 29th 2002) http://www.filmcritic.com/reviews/1985/legend/ (Accessed Nov 23rd 2011)

Biodrowski. S of Cinefantastique (Published May 20th 2009) http://cinefantastiqueonline.com/2009/05/legend-1985-retrospective-film-dvd-review/ (Accessed Nov 23rd 2011)

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