Film: Legends of the Fall

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Film:

Legends of the Fall

Director: Edward Zwick
Honors:
Genres:
Distributor: Sony Pictures

A box-office hit when released in 1994, this sprawling, frequently overwrought familial melodrama may get sillier as its plot progresses, but it’s the kind of lusty, character-based epic that Hollywood should attempt more often. It’s also an unabashedly flattering star vehicle for Brad Pitt as Tristan—the rebellious middle son of a fiercely independent Montana rancher and military veteran (Anthony Hopkins)—who is routinely at odds with his more responsible older brother, Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and younger brother, Samuel (Henry Thomas). From the battlefields of…

Reviews

Amazon.com

A box-office hit when released in 1994, this sprawling, frequently overwrought familial melodrama may get sillier as its plot progresses, but it’s the kind of lusty, character-based epic that Hollywood should attempt more often. It’s also an unabashedly flattering star vehicle for Brad Pitt as Tristan—the rebellious middle son of a fiercely independent Montana rancher and military veteran (Anthony Hopkins)—who is routinely at odds with his more responsible older brother, Alfred (Aidan Quinn), and younger brother, Samuel (Henry Thomas). From the battlefields of World War I to his adventures as an oceangoing sailor, Tristan’s life is full of personal torment, especially when he returns to Montana and finds himself competing with Alfred over Samuel’s beautiful widow (Julia Ormond), whose passion for Tristan disrupts the already turbulent Ludlow clan. Under the wide-open canopy of Big Sky country, this operatic tale unfolds with all the bloodlust, tragedy, and scenery-chewing performances you’d expect to find in a hokey bestselling novel (in fact, it’s based on the acclaimed novella by Jim Harrison), but it’s a potent mix that’s highly entertaining. Not surprisingly, John Toll won an Academy Award for his breathtaking outdoor cinematography. —Jeff Shannon

Barnes and Noble

Brad Pitt’s star, already on the ascent when Legends was released in 1994, zoomed to stratospheric heights as a result of his work in this multilayered saga of Montana ranch life during the early 20th century. Anthony Hopkins contributes one of his customarily assured performances as the former cavalry officer who, disgusted by the government’s persecution of Native Americans, concentrates on building the sprawling cattle ranch that will one day belong to his three sons. The siblings are Aidan Quinn (playing the oldest), Henry Thomas (the youngest), and top-billed Pitt (the unruly middle brother), whose squabbling and rivalries intensify when pretty Julia Ormond happens along. Director Edward Zwick (Glory) focuses his storytelling energies on the conflicts among the sons and their relationship with their iconoclastic patriarch, maintaining the integrity of Jim Harrison’s novella and never allowing the narrative to degenerate into mere soap opera. Ormond is radiant, and Quinn and Thomas are superb as the “bookend” brothers, but Legends belongs almost entirely to Pitt, who, in this lyrical period piece, finally reveals himself to be a charismatic leading man. Ed Hulse

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