Dir.: Ridley Scott
Starring: Mia Sara, Tim Curry and Tom Cruise’s legs in a chainmail mini-skirt
A staple among the children of the 80s, Ridley Scott’s ambitious directorial foray into the realm of magic and wonder received a dishearteningly chilly reception upon release that it didn’t fully recover from until more than a decade later. While the theatrical cut of Legend moves by rapidly leaving little time for boredom, it unfortunately forewent focusing on the heavier story-related elements, namely in the regard of pacing and some character motivations as well as a disdain for what is on the surface a very simple story… to which I ask, have those people never read a fairy tale?
With the advent of DVD, Scott was finally able to assemble the film the way he originally intended and the director’s cut is by far the most comprehensive, narrative wise. That being said, while the DC has more meat on it’s bones, that is not to regale the theatrical cut as chopped liver, especially not with a wholly remarkable and memorable score by Tangerine Dream which to this day resonates as an example of individuality. One of the best scenes in the film involves Mia Sara’s Princess Lily getting swept up into a dance with a mysterious dark figure in a dress and the music swells like a fever dream birthed of madness, mystique and nightmare.
Acting-wise, the two most impressive players are Sara and Tim Curry as Darkness. Originally Scott intended Darkness to literally be the Beast to Lily’s Beauty character, but he then decided to make the character a little more ‘sexy’ (as the man himself said in the Making Of feature on the DVD) so what is more sexier than the Devil? Rob Bottin’s make- up work is utterly glorious as not only does it look impressive and move with surprising functionality but it also allows the actor inside of it to act. For a film made in the 1980s, Darkness’s appearance still looks incredible because it is real. Not only that, but Darkness has some truly quotable lines, one of my prime favourites being “The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity.”
As for the rest, a young and inexperienced Tom Cruise as the forest dwelling fae-boy Jack isn’t exactly the most compelling part of the film, but he is hardly a blight. Visually speaking, Legend looks luscious and passionately crafted by a bunch of people who knew the importance of hard work and effort. Films in the 80s of all genres were as much about the science and mathematics as they were about creating worlds of awe and the practicality of Legend resonates even today due to the attention to detail Scott typically has.
While by no means a cause célèbre of magic and sorcery films that dominated the 1980s, there is undeniable charm which Legend possesses. The film manged to rise from its initial failure thanks to the recognition of combined talents of Scott and everybody involved as well audiences who were willing to go along on the quest it presented with open minds and open hearts… and isn’t that how a lot of the magic in fairy tales start?
Tidbit: Apparently the studio exec who viewed the first draft of the original story said in regard to the morbid romance between Lily and Darkness “You can’t have the villain fuck the princess” to which I counter with “Uh, hello? It’s the DEVIL!”