Legend (1985 film)

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Legend
Legendposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Arnon Milchan
Written by William Hjortsberg
Starring
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
(European Version and Director's Cut)
Tangerine Dream
(US Version)
Cinematography Alex Thomson
Edited by Terry Rawlings
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
(USA & Canada)
20th Century Fox
(International)
Release date
  • December 13, 1985 (1985-12-13) (UK)
  • April 18, 1986 (1986-04-18) (US)
Running time
113 minutes (director's cut)
94 minutes (Int'l release)
89 minutes (US release)
Country United States[1]
Language English
Budget $24.5 million[2]
Box office

$15.5 million (Domestic Box Office)

$23.5 million (Worldwide Box Office)[3]

Legend is a 1985 American dark fantasy adventure film directed by Ridley Scott and starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, David Bennent, Alice Playten, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, and Annabelle Lanyon. It is a dark fairy tale and has been described as a return to more original and sometimes disturbing fables originating from the oral tradition of ancient times before reading and writing were widespread.[4][5]

Although not a commercial success when first released, it won the British Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography in 1985 for cinematographer Alex Thomson,[6] as well as being nominated for multiple awards: Academy Award for Best Makeup; Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films Saturn Award for Best Makeup; BAFTA Awards for Best Costume Design, Best Makeup Artist, Best Special Visual Effects; DVD Exclusive Awards; and Young Artist Awards.[7] Since its premiere and the subsequent release of the Director's Cut edition, the film has become a cult classic, with many critics agreeing the Director's Cut is far superior to the U.S. Theatrical Version.[8]

Plot[edit]

In order to establish eternal night, The Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) sends the goblin Blix (Alice Playten) on a mission to kill the unicorns that guard the light and bring him their horns. Blix and his colleagues Pox (Peter O'Farrell) and Blunder (Kiran Shah) follow impetuous Princess Lili (Mia Sara) and her lustful forest dweller paramour Jack (Tom Cruise) through Jack's forest home to the lair of the unicorns. When Lili distracts the stallion by stroking it, Blix shoots it with a poison dart from his blowpipe, and the unicorns flee. Lili makes light of Jack's fears that she broke the law of the forest by touching the sacred animals and sets him a challenge by throwing her ring into a pond, declaring that she will marry whoever finds it. While Jack dives in after the ring, the goblins find the dying stallion and sever its alicorn. An apocalyptic winter descends; Lili runs off in terror and Jack is barely able to break through the surface of the now frozen pond.

Taking refuge in a frozen cottage, Lili overhears the goblins talking about their slaying of the stallion and testing the alicorn's magical powers. She follows the goblins to a rendezvous with Darkness, who orders them to hunt and kill the surviving mare. Blunder unsuccessfully tries to use the alicorn to overthrow Darkness and is taken away to Darkness' castle. Meanwhile Jack, accompanied by the hot-headed elf Honeythorn Gump (David Bennent, voiced by Alice Playten), the fairy Oona (Annabelle Lanyon), and the dwarves Brown Tom and Screwball (Cork Hubbert and Billy Barty), finds the lifeless stallion and his mate; the mare tells Jack that the alicorn must be recovered and returned to the stallion. Leaving Brown Tom to guard the unicorns, Jack and the others retrieve a hidden cache of ancient weapons. While they are gone, Lili tries to make things right by helping to save the mare, but the goblins overpower Tom and capture the mare and Lili. Learning what has transpired, Jack and his group make their way to Darkness' castle in the middle of a swamp. On the way, they are nearly killed by a swamp hag named Meg Mucklebones (Robert Picardo), but defeats her by flattering her appearance and then decapitating her.

After making it to the castle, Jack and his group end up falling into a dungeon in Darkness' hellish kitchen. There they encounter Blunder, revealed to be an elf gone astray, before he is dragged off by an ogre cook to be baked into a pie. Oona is able to escape their cell and offers to retrieve keys to free the others if she receives a kiss from Jack. He is tempted when Oona turns into an amorous Lili, but can't bring himself to follow through, telling her "human hearts don't work that way". Greatly offended, Oona scolds Jack for his sinful ways and the truth about the imperfection of humans, but realizing what's at stake, she frees everyone and helps search for Lili and the mare.

Having fallen in love with Lili for her sin of touching the unicorns, Darkness tempts her with jewelry, a beautiful dress and promises of power and glory. Seemingly seduced, she agrees to wed him under the condition that she kills the mare in the upcoming ritual. Overhearing their conversation, Jack and Gump learn that Darkness can be destroyed by daylight. After saving Blunder, the group takes the ogres' giant metal platters to reflect the sunlight to the chamber where the mare is to be sacrificed.

As the ritual begins, Lili frees the mare, but is knocked out by Darkness. While the others relay the light of the setting sun, Jack fights Darkness, finally wounding him with the severed alicorn. As the redirected sunlight blasts him to a ledge, Darkness warns them that because evil lurks in everyone, he will never truly be vanquished. Jack accepts this to be true, but kills Darkness for the unicorns' safety by sending him off of the ledge into the void. Gump returns the stallion's horn, returning him to life and ending the winter. Jack retrieves the ring from the pond and returns it to Lili, reviving her.

Alternative endings[edit]

The film concludes with one of three endings:

  • In the Director's Cut, Lili wakes with Jack trying to convince her she was merely dreaming, but she is ultimately unconvinced. They confess their love for each other, but realize they live in two different lifestyles, which causes Lili to request continuing a merely platonic relationship. Jack's happy with this request, and gleefully accepts. Lili returns to her home to assume her responsibilities, promising to visit him again. Jack happily runs off into the sunset, hailed by the forest fairies and the revived unicorns.
  • In the American theatrical version, Jack and Lili assure each other of their love and watch the unicorns reunite, and they run off into the sunset together, hailed by the forest fairies and the unicorns. Darkness watches them from the void, laughing.[9][10]
  • The European version also ends with both Jack and Lili running off into the sunset, but without Darkness's final appearance.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Development[edit]

While filming The Duellists in France, Ridley Scott conceived Legend after another planned project, Tristan and Isolde, fell through temporarily.[2] However, he believed that it would be an art film with limited audience appeal and went on to make Alien and did pre-production work on Dune, another halted project, which was eventually finished by director David Lynch. Frustrated, he came back to the idea of filming a fairy tale or mythological story.

For inspiration, Scott read all the classic fairy tales, including ones by the Brothers Grimm.[2] From that, he conceived a story about a young hermit who is transformed into a hero when he battles the Lord of Darkness in order to rescue a beautiful princess and release the world from a wintery curse.[14]

Screenplay[edit]

Scott wanted Legend to have an original screenplay because he believed that "it was far easier to design a story to fit the medium of cinema than bend the medium for an established story".[2] By chance, he discovered several books written by American novelist William Hjortsberg, and found that the writer had already written several scripts for some unmade lower-budgeted films. Scott asked him if he was interested in writing a fairy tale. Fortunately, he was already writing some and agreed.[14] Scott remembers, "The first notion was to actually make a classical fairy story, but if you actually analyze a classical fairy story, most are either very short, or very complex".[15] The two men bonded over Jean Cocteau's 1946 film of Beauty and the Beast. In January 1981, just before beginning principal photography on Blade Runner, Scott and Hjortsberg spent five weeks working out a rough storyline for what was then called Legend of Darkness.

Originally, Scott "only had the vague notion of something in pursuit of the swiftest steed alive which, of course, was the unicorn".[2] Scott felt that they should have a quest and wanted unicorns as well as magic armor and a sword. Hjortsberg suggested plunging the world into wintery darkness.[14] Hjortsberg's first draft of Legend of Darkness also had Princess Lili slowly transform into a clawed and fur-covered beast who is whipped and sexually seduced by the antagonist (called Baron Couer De Noir in this draft).[16][17] Scott wanted to show the outside world as little as possible and they settled on the clockmaker's cottage.

Initially, the quest was longer, but it was eventually substantially reduced. Scott wanted to avoid too many subplots that departed from the main story and go for a "more contemporary movement rather than get bogged down in too classical a format".[2] By the time Scott had finished Blade Runner, he and Hjortsberg had a script that was "lengthy, hugely expensive, and impractical in its size and scope".[15] They went through it and took out large sections that were secondary to the story. The two men went through 15 script revisions.[14][18]

Pre-production[edit]

The look Scott envisioned for Legend was influenced somewhat by the style of Disney animation. He had even offered the project to Disney, but they were intimidated by the film's dark tone at a time when Disney still focused on family-friendly material.[2] Visually, he referenced films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia and Pinocchio.[19] Early on, Scott worked with Alan Lee as a visual consultant who drew some characters and sketched environments. However, Scott eventually replaced Lee with Assheton Gorton, a production designer whom he had wanted for both Alien and Blade Runner. Scott hired Gorton because he knew "all the pitfalls of shooting exteriors on a soundstage. We both knew that whatever we did would never look absolutely real, but would very quickly gain its own reality and dispense with any feeling of theatricality".[19]

Scott also consulted with effects expert Richard Edlund because the director did not want to limit major character roles to the number of smaller people who could act.[19] At one point, the director considered Mickey Rooney to play one of the major characters but he did not look small enough next to Tom Cruise. Edlund considered shooting on 70 mm film stock, taking the negative, and reducing the actors to any size they wanted—but this was deemed too expensive. Thus, Scott was tasked with finding an ensemble of small actors.[19] Legend would be financed with a budget of $24.5 million,[2] and would be distributed by Universal Pictures in North America and by 20th Century Fox in all other territories.[20]

In order to achieve the look of Legend that he wanted, Scott scouted locations in the Sequoias of Yosemite National Park to see the grand scale of trees there. "The whole environment is so stunning ... It was so impressive, but I didn't know how you would control it".[15] However, it would cost too much to shoot on location and he decided to build a forest set on the 007 Stage, named after and used for many James Bond films, at Pinewood Studios. The crew spent 14 weeks constructing the forest set, and Scott was worried that it would not look real enough. It was only days before the start of principal photography that it looked good enough to film. The trees were 60 feet high with trunks 30 feet in diameter and were sculpted out of polystyrene built onto tubular scaffolding frames.[15] In addition, other sets were constructed on five huge soundstages.[14]

Casting[edit]

While Scott was considering Richard O'Brien to play Meg Mucklebones, he watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show and saw Tim Curry. He thought the actor would be ideal to play the Lord of Darkness because the actor had film and theatrical experience. Tim Curry's makeup as Darkness in Legend is considered to be one of the most iconic images in all of fantasy cinema.[21] Scott discovered Mia Sara in a casting session and was impressed by her "good theatrical instincts".[22]

Makeup effects[edit]

Scott contacted Rob Bottin, who designed the special makeup effects for The Howling, about working on Blade Runner, but Bottin was already committed to John Carpenter's The Thing.[23] Scott told him about Legend, and toward the end of production on The Thing, Bottin read a script for the film and saw an excellent opportunity to create characters in starring roles.

After wrapping his work with Carpenter, Bottin met with Scott to reduce the thousands of creatures suggested by the script, to a manageable quantity. The process would involve complicated prosthetic makeup that would be worn for up to 60 days with some full body prosthetics.[23] According to Bottin, at the time, Legend had the largest makeup crew ever dedicated to one project. Bottin divided his facility into different shops in order to cover the immense workload. As actors were cast, Bottin and his crew began making life casts and designed characters on drafting paper laid over sketches of the actors' faces.[23] He designed the prosthetics in his Los Angeles studio and spent some time in England occasionally helping with the application of makeup.[24]

With the exception of Cruise and Sara, all the principal actors spent hours every morning having extensive makeup applied.[19] Between 8 and 12 prosthetic pieces were applied individually to each face, then made up, molded and grafted into the actor's face so that the prosthetics moved with their muscles.[24] Each person needed three makeup artists working on them for an average time of three and a half hours spent applying prosthetics. Actor Tim Curry took five and a half hours because his entire body was encased in makeup,[19] the film's most challenging character design.[25]

Curry had to wear a large, bull-like structure atop his head with three-foot fiberglass horns supported by a harness underneath the makeup.[26] The initial design of the horns placed a strain on the back of the actor's neck because they extended forward and not straight up but Bottin and his crew eventually reduced the weight of the horns.[26] At the end of the day, he spent an hour in a bath in order to liquefy the soluble spirit gum. At one point, Curry got too impatient and claustrophobic and pulled the makeup off too quickly, tearing off his own skin in the process. Scott had to shoot around the actor for a week as a result.[19]

Principal photography[edit]

Principal photography began on March 26, 1984 on the 007 Stage at Pinewood Studios.[2] On June 27, 1984, with ten days filming left on this stage, the entire set burned down during a lunch break. Reportedly, flames from the set fire leapt more than 100 feet into the air and the clouds of smoke could be seen five miles away.[14] Fortunately, it occurred during lunchtime, and no one was hurt.[15] Scott quickly made changes to the shooting schedule and only lost three days moving to another soundstage.[19] Meanwhile, the art department rebuilt the section of the forest set that was needed to complete filming.[14] Due to the fire, the scenes of Lili meeting the unicorns for the first time and finding the cottages in the snow were filmed in the garden of the main house behind Shepperton Studios.[27] The underwater scenes were filmed in Silver Springs, Florida for the "purity" of the water. Cruise did all his own diving and swimming in waters that, according to Scott, had real alligators 25 feet from where they were filming.

Post-production[edit]

Scott's first cut of Legend ran 125 minutes long and was intended to be a very unpleasant horror film.[28] He then believed there were minor plot points that could be trimmed and cut the film down to 113 minutes, so he tested this version for an audience in Orange County. However, it was decided that the audience had to work too much to be entertained, and another 20 minutes was cut.[28] The 95-minute version was shown in Great Britain and then the film was cut down even further to 89 minutes for North America.

At the time, Scott said, "European audiences are more sophisticated. They accepted preambles and subtleties whereas the U.S. goes for a much broader stroke."[28] He and Universal delayed the North American theatrical release until 1986 so that they could replace Jerry Goldsmith's score with music by Tangerine Dream, Yes lead singer Jon Anderson, and Bryan Ferry.[2]

Scott allowed Goldsmith's score to remain on European prints and the composer said, "that this dreamy, bucolic setting is suddenly to be scored by a techno-pop group seems sort of strange to me".[29] Normally, Goldsmith would spend 6–10 weeks on a film score, but for Legend, he spent six months writing songs and dance sequences ahead of time.[29]

In 2000, Universal unearthed an answer print of the 113-minute preview cut with Jerry Goldsmith's score. This print had minor visual anomalies that were eventually digitally replaced, occasionally with finished shots from the 89-minute U.S. version. This edition is Scott's preferred 2002 "Director's Cut", with the restored Jerry Goldsmith soundtracks. The Director's Cut's source is one of only two prints of this extended version known to exist, used for Universal's 2002 DVD (and eventual Blu-ray) "Ultimate Edition."[30]

Reception[edit]

Legend received mixed reviews. The film currently holds a 42% "Rotten" approval rating at review aggregator RottenTomatoes, based on 26 reviews.[31] Steve Biodrowski of Cinefantastique praised the film, highlighting the makeup design by Rob Bottin and Tim Curry's performance as Darkness, saying that "[b]ecause of the visuals (and Curry's performance, which is mostly limited to the last 20 minutes), the film is worth seeing".[32] Widgett Walls of needcoffee.com also praised the film, once again highlighting Bottin's makeup, focusing on the character of Darkness, saying simply that "Tim Curry's Darkness is absolutely incredible."[33]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times said that "[i]t's a slap-dash amalgam of Old Testament, King Arthur, "The Lord of the Rings" and any number of comic books."[34]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times praised Bottin's makeup and Assheton Gorton's set design and the performances of Tim Curry and Tom Cruise, but noted that the effects were so good that the roles could have been played by almost anyone. Ebert also said that the movie was composed of all of the right ingredients to be successful, but that the film simply "doesn't work". He went on to say that "[a]ll of the special effects in the world, and all of the great makeup, and all of the great Muppet creatures can't save a movie that has no clear idea of its own mission and no joy in its own accomplishment". However, with the release of the 2002 Director's Cut, he agreed with many fans on how it was intended to question the balance between good and evil, and gives the main characters moral flaws to display the imperfections of humans.[35] The release of the Director's Cut in 2002 also had the original score from Jerry Goldsmith restored, and brought renewed attention to the film. Both Ridley Scott and Tom Cruise have requested their fans to view this version, even to the extent of Cruise disowning the US version entirely as a "stereotypical 80's fantasy".

Music[edit]

Soundtrack[edit]

Due to the changes in the film from its European and American releases, Legend has two different soundtracks. The first, produced and composed by Jerry Goldsmith, was used for its initial European release and restored in the director's cut edition of the Region 1 DVD release. The second soundtrack features music by German electronic artists Tangerine Dream and was used for the initial theatrical and home video releases in the United States. This soundtrack also includes songs by Jon Anderson of Yes and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music.

The following songs are featured in the European and Director's Cuts, with lyrics composed by John Bettis (composer of many Carpenters songs) and music by Jerry Goldsmith:

  • "My True Love's Eyes" (the main theme, sung mostly by Lili. Mia Sara provided some of the singing, while session singers provided vocals wherever Sara was unable to perform).
  • "Living River" (the first reprise of "My True Love's Eyes", sung as Lili calls to the unicorn).
  • "Bumps and Hollows" (sung by Lili after her forbidden act of touching a unicorn).
  • "Sing The Wee" (the theme for the fairies. The first sung version was cut from all editions of the film as it accompanied a scene with Jack and the fairies that was itself cut; the final sung version by the National Philharmonic Chorus is heard over the end credits).
  • "Reunited" (the final reprise of "My True Love's Eyes", sung by Lili as she says goodbye to Jack).

The following songs appeared in the 89-minute U.S. re-cut when it was re-scored by Tangerine Dream:

  • "Loved by the Sun" (music by Tangerine Dream, lyrics written and sung by Jon Anderson).
  • "Is Your Love Strong Enough" (written and performed by Bryan Ferry over the U.S. print's end credits).

A promotional music video (presumably for the U.S. market, where the Tangerine Dream soundtrack was used) was created for the Bryan Ferry song "Is Your Love Strong Enough". The video, which incorporates Ferry and guitarist David Gilmour into footage from the film, is included as a bonus on disc 2 of the 2002 "Ultimate Edition" DVD release.

Home media[edit]

In 2002, Universal released the 113-minute Director's Cut on Region 1 DVD, restoring previously cut scenes and the original Goldsmith score.[36]

The Director's Cut was a nightmare to track down. In doing research on this, I had been in contact with a certifiable Legend fanatic named Sean Murphy, who runs the Legend FAQ along with Geoff Wright, and based in part on his info, and a lot of background from Legend editor, Terry Rawlings, I realized that we were looking for one of three cuts. ...Credit really needs to be given to Garth Thomas for breaking the case. And I should also thank Sean Murphy, Geoff Wright, and Paul MacLean for all of their support.

— Charles de Lauzirika, Producer[36]

Universal released a Blu-ray version of the "Ultimate Edition" on May 31, 2011. With the exception of the 2002 DVD-ROM features, this disc carries over all the content from the DVD, including the Jerry Goldsmith-scored "Director's Cut" and the Tangerine Dream-scored theatrical version.

20th Century Fox, the international rights holder, has released a Blu-ray issue for Region 2 of both the 94-minute European version and the 113-minute Director's Cut, both with Jerry Goldsmith's music.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Legend". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 10, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Jones, Alan (January 1986). "The Making of Legend". Cinefantastique. p. 22. 
  3. ^ "Legend". The Numbers. 
  4. ^ Meslow, Scott (May 31, 2012). "Fairy Tales Started Dark, Got Cute, and Are Now Getting Dark Again." TheAtlantic.com. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  5. ^ "Oral tradition | Define Oral tradition at Dictionary.com". Dictionary.reference.com. Retrieved October 11, 2012. 
  6. ^ "BSC Best Cinematography Award at The British Society of Cinematographers". Bscine.com. July 12, 2012. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Legend (1985) - Awards". IMDb. Retrieved June 2, 2012. 
  8. ^ Wright, Benjamin (May 31, 2012). "5 Fractured Fairy Tale Movies Worth Watching After 'Snow White And The Huntsman'." IndieWire.com. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  9. ^ Movie Censorship.com: Legend (Comparison: Theatrical Version -- Director's Cut. Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  10. ^ Cinefantastique Online: Legend (1985) - Retrospective Film and DVD Review by Steve Biodrowski (May 20, 2009). Retrieved November 12, 2015.
  11. ^ "What were the contents of the LEGEND press kit in America?". figmentfly.com. January 1, 2005. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Tim Curry – Legend". BD. January 1, 2005. Retrieved January 15, 2008. 
  13. ^ Ridley Scott DVD Commentary for "Legend: Ultimate Edition", Disc 1, Universal Studios Home Video, 2002.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g "Legend Production Notes". Universal Pictures. 1985. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Pirani, Adam (December 1985). "Ridley Scott: SF's Visual Magician". Starlog. p. 64. 
  16. ^ "Original LEGEND OF DARKNESS script - First Draft". LEGEND frequently asked questions. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  17. ^ http://emulsionalproblems.blogspot.com/2015/06/the-legend-of-william-hjortsberg.html
  18. ^ "Legend Making by William Hjortsberg". LEGEND frequently asked questions. Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h Jones 1986, p. 24.
  20. ^ Mathews, Jack (1998). The Battle of Brazil (revised edition). New York: Applause. p. 82. ISBN 1-55783-347-8. 
  21. ^ Monfette, Christopher (May 12, 2009). "Top 10 Angels and Demons." IGN.com. Retrieved June 5, 2012.
  22. ^ Pirani December 1985, p. 66
  23. ^ a b c Biodrowski, Steve (January 1986). "Legend Makeup". Cinefantastique. p. 25. 
  24. ^ a b Pirani December 1985, p. 65
  25. ^ Biodrowski 1986, p. 26
  26. ^ a b Biodrowski 1986, p. 57
  27. ^ Ridley Scott DVD Commentary for "Legend: Ultimate Edition", Disc 2, Universal Studios Home Video, 2002.
  28. ^ a b c Jones 1986, p. 27.
  29. ^ a b Harrington, Richard (January 12, 1986). "The Saga of the Sound Tracks". Washington Post. p. K1. 
  30. ^ "History Of the LEGEND DVD by Sean Murphy". Figmentfly.com. Retrieved September 21, 2016. 
  31. ^ "Legend". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 10, 2018. 
  32. ^ Browse: Home / DVD, Movies, Reviews / Legend (1985) – Retrospective Film & DVD Review + Legend (1985) – Retrospective Film & DVD Review
  33. ^ Biodrowski, Steve (May 20, 2009). "Legend (1985) – Retrospective Film & DVD Review". Cinefantastique. 
  34. ^ Canby, Vincent (April 18, 1986). "THE SCREEN: RIDLEY SCOTT'S 'LEGEND'". The New York Times. 
  35. ^ Ebert, Roger (April 18, 1986). "LEGEND (1986)". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  36. ^ a b Hunt, Bill (December 2000). "Inside DVD: Fact Or Rumor". Widescreen Review. 9 (44): 106–111. The Director's Cut was a nightmare to track down. In doing research on this, I had been in contact with a certifiable Legend fanatic named Sean Murphy, who runs the Legend FAQ along with Geoff Wright, and based in part on his info, and a lot of background from Legend editor, Terry Rawlings, I realized that we were looking for one of three cuts. ...Credit really needs to be given to Garth Thomas for breaking the case. And I should also thank Sean Murphy, Geoff Wright, and Paul MacLean for all of their support. 

External links[edit]