Random Film of the Week: Legends of the Fall

Legends_of_the_Fall_MPI may be a hopeless romantic (okay, okay … only sometimes!) but even I’m not a sucker for the big budget blockbuster romance film. Still, I sit through a few when I have the time to kill or get trapped and its the only damn thing to look at that won’t get me in trouble. Edward Zwick’s great-looking Legends of the Fall made me laugh out loud many times when I first saw it on a long airplane flight and it still makes me laugh today.

I laugh more now because I believe the airplane cut was a tiny bit shorter than the theatrical version, but back on that trip, I laughed louder because I’d fallen asleep during the screening and woke up a few hours later only to find the film replaying again almost exactly from the same spot as if it were waiting for me like a long lost love. Burning up the screen with more testosterone and scenery chewing from about everyone in the cast, this is one of those films that may have led to a few breakups among couples where one dragged the other to see this expensive pot-boiled turkey and the aftermath was about as wild as the fast-motion/freeze frame bear fight that pops up near the ending.

Yeah, you read that correctly. Read on for more…

As I didn’t read the novel this turgid tale of three brothers (two of whom may be loving the same lady but not together as in at the same time… well, sort of) and the cranky patriarch that lords over the lads is based on, I went in cold the first time. Or more precisely, I had no choice because it was the only darn film to watch on the plane. No, wait. I think Get Shorty was the other, but that may have been the other flight I took. I forget. Anyway, THAT movie has a brief scene with a plane crash in it, making it HILARIOUS to wake up to mid-flight (which is what happened the first time I saw it). But that’s another story for another time.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, LotF takes place over a lifetime (and at 133 minute that feels like 300 minutes, sure feels as it it takes that long) and is chock full of lovely shots of sunny fields, gloomy battle scenes and other nicely award-nominated looking cinematography scenes that the film scores high on its visual style alone. As a matter of fact, it did indeed win and Oscar for Best Cinematography (so there, me!). Sure it looks great and all… until people start talking and ruining all that pretty scenery…

I don’t think I ever made much sense of the plot because every few minutes something stupid happens or there’s a flashback or Brad Pitt shows up in a fake beard that looks like a bushy beehive and there’s a World War I scene and Anthony Hopkins’ character has a stroke or something and a lot of people die before it’s all over. Oh, and I think it’s narrated by an Native American who may be dead in the movie when that narration is taking place, but I could be wrong.  I’ve seen this about three times more since the airplane trip and have never gotten my brain to put together what it’s all about. I think that may be a defensive mechanism to keep this one funny, though.

The other brothers are played by Aidan Quinn and Henry Thomas. The pretty love interest is played by Julia Ormond. There are a lot of other people in this film as well, but between the jumping around and the sappy stuff and Hopkins’ post fake stroke voice and Pitt’s bee-beard and a bunch of other things that kept me doubled over in hysterics, I couldn’t lie to you about what this one’s all about nor could I make up a tale to replace what’s here. I’d say this film is worth watching because it got made and a lot of money is up there on the screen with those period costumes and that sweeping score and all those words, words, words being spoken.

I actually saw this with my younger brother once just to prove to myself that I wasn’t nuts with a short attention span and about halfway in we’re on the carpet in tears because we were laughing at the same time and at the same things. By the time there’s that bear fight, we were probably rocking some major tight abs and probably had peed ourselves because we were laughing so hard. I recall the first thing that happened when one of was able to get into an upright position was one or both of us asking the other “WHAT the hell was that about?” before collapsing into hysterics again.

And wouldn’t you know it, he ends up renting the film again a few months later to watch again with a bunch of other stuff. I saw the DVD in his room and just shook my head, laughing as I walked away. I should ask him if he ever figured this one out, but I’m afraid I’ll end up having to watch this all over again and that, dear reader is something I have no time for. That said, if YOU liked this over-baked mash, then more power to you. I just couldn’t get past the unintentionally funny bits (of which there are too many) to actually enjoy this one as it’s meant to be enjoyed. Ah well, some of us just don’t appreciate high art, I suppose. Or like sped up bear fights that close a film. “It was a good death” indeed.

No, it wasn’t until I skewered it, cut out its heart and sent it back to the studio to be buried. Blech.

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