LEGEND never really found an audience in theatres despite Ridley Scott and Universal's constant tinkering with the final cut. Seems many movies of this era were victims of audience test screenings, and the desire to give people a commercial product that went down easy -- see BRAZIL for a prime example of how studios think (the "love conquers all" version). So LEGEND was severely edited and rescored with a hasty (but often effective score by TANGERINE DREAM). It was short on plot and long on art direction, but sumptuous visuals and an all-out acting job by Tim Curry and make-up artist Rick Bottin made the movie an easy favorite of many fantasy fans. The movie looks stunning, and the story is a universal plunge into archetypes. Nothing wrong with that, it certainly worked for STAR WARS!
This DVD collection gives you two versions of LEGEND -- the original director's cut with over twenty minutes of added footage and the original Goldsmith score; and in addition, you get the original US release. In essence you get two different movies! The moods vary, the characters seem a little different, with whole new speeches and images to enjoy. If you are a fan of the movie or Ridley Scott it's a MUST-HAVE! This is what DVD dreams are made of. While many bemoan the fact BLADE RUNNER does not come with its 2 versions -- the fact is other than the narration and the happy ending, there is not MUCH different. But here we have a case where you can see what happens to a movie as it goes through development HELL. Fascinating stuff, and it comes LOADED with extras.
The only downside is the director's cut gets the royal treatment of a 5.1 sound mix while the other version gets a 2 channel Dolby mix, and even the video quality seems different with again the director's cut looking better than the theatrical release. But at last we can see a widescreen version of either cut, and we get a lot of extras that explain some of why the movie is the way it ended up. Beautiful images, two good soundtracks (I like both though the mood changes), and basically strong performances. LEGEND is a waking dream!
on October 3, 2000
jerry goldsmith is widely considered to be one of the best creators of movie music alive. he once gave an interview where he said that the score for 'Legend' was his favorite thing he'd ever written. when this movie was released, however, the people at the studio decided that "the kids" just wouldn't get it, so they replaced it with a pop-y bit from tangerine dream. furthermore, scenes were cut, and the action was speeded up so that the movie could be marketed to a younger crowd. problem solved: this is a 2 disc set so you can compare and contrast the two versions: one with jerry goldsmith's score restored and finally bringing the "international" cut to the u.s., the other being the u.s. theatrical cut. this movie is incredible, but certainly not for everyone. the early tom cruise is fun to watch, tim curry is his usual over-the-top self, and mia sara is quite attractive as the princess(?) lilly. at its heart, this is a good vs. evil quest film, with the usual fantasy trappings of that sort used to wonderful effect. the movie is visually stunning, but it relies on more archtypical characters rather than character development. just because it has unicorns, fairies, goblins, swords, magic, etc., does not make this a children's film. i heartily recommend this one to any fan of sheer eye candy, fantasy, or fairy tales.
on June 19, 2004
(Please note that my review mentions a few scenes and plot elements which you may not wish to know beforehand if you have never seen the movie; however, I would definitely not consider them spoilers.)
Legend is one of "those" movies for me. Like many of the movies I saw when I was young, it helped define my childhood. I first saw Legend during its first televised airing in Canada at about the age of 8. My mother taped it off television for me, and over my unicorn obsessed childhood it became etched into my memory. Strangely, I have never been able to find in stores the version I saw then.
When the taped-from-tv version finally gave out on me, my mother bought for me an official VHS release for Christmas. I watched the movie with a sense of horror as I found that scenes that I felt were pivotal or pleasurably memorable were not present. The two notable scenes which were missing were the scene in which Gump riddles Jack about moonbells, and the one in which Jack faces the witch on his way to Darkness. The lack of these scenes brought the movie's greatness down a few notches for me. Perhaps if I'd never seen it with those scenes I wouldn't have noticed, but knowing just what was missing, and what the movie was without them, ruined something for me. So, when I found Legend: Ultimate Edition, I decided to buy it to see if the Director's Cut was the better version. However, I was aware when I bought it that my childhood version of Legend featured the Tangerine Dream score, and not the original. So I wasn't really sure of what I was getting with the Director's Cut. As this two-disc set includes both the US theatrical release (which I already had on VHS) and the Director's Cut, I also kind of hoped maybe something might be different with the U.S. version because this was the Director's Cut release. (Nope.)
Imagine my annoyance to find that the Director's Cut is no better. In fact, I think it's worse. I will pick out three specifics that bother me:
Lily: In the U.S. Theatrical release, I like Lily. She is sweet, and innocent, and a little foolish, but endearingly so. In the Director's Cut, Lily's dialogue makes her out to be much less likeable - she seems immature and spoiled, a brat. There were points where I wanted to slap her for being so irritating. She also sings. Ungh.
The Score: The Tangerine Dream score has an atmospheric and often shadowy feel to it; the original score is much too over-the-top and takes away from the atmosphere of the film. Really, it doesn't feel much as though Jerry Goldsmith was watching the same movie everyone else was. Legend's dreamlike fantasy world grows into a dark nightmare, and this is served quite well by Tangerine Dream's interpretation; the original score is comical and clumsy in comparison.
Added Scenes: The scenes left in the Director's Cut were cut from the U.S. theatrical release, with the exception of the scenes I mentioned previously as needing to be there, for a good reason; in addition to Lily becoming an irritating brat, most of the uncut scenes serve only to make parts of the film drag, or disturb the sense of flow. Some of them seem pointless or silly, as when Jack does a sudden flip in the air for no apparent reason. Perhaps if the score was more suited to the movie, certain scenes (such as the flip) wouldn't seem so comical or out of place, but when his flip is accompanied by a wild clashing of instruments, one has the urge to laugh at the clumsiness of the scene.
Now, back to those two scenes missing from the U.S. release. Why am I griping about two little scenes? Without the riddle scene, there seems a rather uncomfortable transition between Gump's rage at Jack for taking Lily to see and touch the unicorns and deciding to help him find her and make everything right. Not to mention it's a great scene! Also, Gump's riddling Jack is important to the story - Jack can't simply claim that love is the reason he did something stupid and then not have to answer for it. The riddle is a moment in which Jack can prove himself worthy of Gump and company's assistance in righting Jack's wrongs, and worthy of the quest itself.
The scene where Jack confronts and kill the witch is just plain cool. And, yes, Jack again proves himself when he defeats her, even if it wasn't a particularly long or thrilling battle. Jack's youthful inexperience needs to be tested a few times before he reaches Darkness. The U.S. theatrical release leaves these out and Jack reaches Darkness untried. It goes against the whole idea of the quest. Silliness. In most fantasy stories (the good ones, anyway), the hero is always tested a few times in order to learn about his abilities before he reaches the final confrontation with evil. The removal of those scenes removes this important element and leaves the story feeling hollow.
To be perfectly honest, I would not buy Legend: Ultimate Edition again if I had known the Director's Cut would annoy me so much. I would dearly love to find out why (and how) I saw a version that came somewhere in between the U.S. theatrical release and the Director's Cut, and even get my hands on an official copy, but that will likely never be. Needless to say, Legend *is* a beautiful movie, and if you must have it, stick with the U.S. theatrical release, cut scenes not-withstanding. I think my viewing of it is simply sullied by my strong childhood memory, and from knowing that my first viewings were of a superior version to the versions now available.
on October 9, 2004
As long as unicorns roam the earth evil can never harm the pure of heart, and that is why the prince of Darkness has sent his most foulest goblins out into the very daylight he seeks to destroy forever to cut off the horns of the last two remaining. But when Jack (the forest boy, played by a very young Tom Cruise) takes Lily (a royal princess, played by the beautiful Mia Sara) to see them, she does the forbidden and touches these ancient creatures. Lily soon discovers it was she who unintentionally lured the unicorns into the goblin's trap; enabling them to shoot the poison stinger into one of the "beasts", as they call them, with a clear view. She vows to make things right again as the land becomes shrouded in a blanket of snow and tries to protect the last unicorn standing but is too frail to defend even herself. She then is captured, along with the unicorn, and taken back to the great tree where the wicked come to sacrifice. There the prince of Darkness yearns for a companion and tries to make Lily one of them by tempting her with jewels and power while Jack and his new friends Gump, a jealous sprite and some other nymphs, device a plan to save Lily, the unicorn, and the world before it's covered in eternal shadow.
Legend wasn't too well received in theaters and was not a favorite among most critics but it has quickly become a cult classic with fantasy lovers like me. Considering the low budget director Ridley Scott was given in order to make this film in the mid-80s, I thought they did a wonderful job in bringing William Hjortsberg's dark fairytale to life, which was written specifically for the screen. I also felt the entire cast put on remarkable performances - especially Tim Curry who went through hell (pun intended) to look as devilish as he does here...
Within this two-disc set is two versions of the film. One is the director's cut, as it was intended to be seen, and the other is the U.S. theatrical version, which I personally prefer, as do many others apparently. There are many extended scenes in the director's cut that were taken out of the U.S. release to trim down the overall running time but I felt the U.S. version simply flowed better. It also features a more dramatic score by Jerry Goldsmith instead of the more emotional score by Tangerine Dream and doesn't include the closing credits song "Is Your Love Strong Enough?" by Brian Ferry, ending the movie on a more magical note. But still, it was nice to see both versions and to compare the two. There's also a lot of bonus materials in the limited edition of Legend that many fans will be very grateful for.
on May 29, 2003
Well, I have never found the movie LEGEND to be one of the more satisfying movie experiences in my years of watching films. Though sporting a beautiful visual style and striking cinematography, I found the story to be very thin and uninteresting. Regardless of Tim Curry's incredible performance as Darkness, I was never really drawn into the plot in any way what-so-ever! The electronic score by the pop group Tangerine Dream didn't help matters. The added songs, which were VERY out of place for a fantasy film of this nature, literally sent me running away never wanting to return. Such was my experience with director Ridley Scott's fourth screen adventure.
After reading numerous stories about the film being tinkered with by studio executives, I was always a bit curious as to what it would have been like in its original form. I felt that it was very unfortunate that Jerry Goldsmith, a composer of many beloved movie scores including ALIEN, POLTERGEIST, and several STAR TREK films, would have his score unceremoniously ripped away from the film and replaced with a pop score in an effort to appeal more to the masses. What would the film be like with his original score intact again? These were wishful daydreams that I never expected to see happen. I was wrong.
LEGEND Ultimate Edition DVD is a wonderful release that is well worth the money. Finally, Ridley Scott has been afforded the chance to go back and fix his movie, restoring it to his original vision, along with the original music. The changes have done wonders for my overall enjoyment of this film. Firstly, the Goldsmith score immediately helps to draw you into this fantasy world and never lets you go. The conclusion of the film being set to actual music instead of pop-singing is awesome to say the least! Twenty-four minutes have been added to the movie, allowing the story to proceed at a more natural pace. The quick edits designed to get us to the action were painfully obvious in the American cut of the movie, but here we are allowed to actually get to know the characters and to care for them. So much more is revealed about the relationship between Jack and Lily instead of simply "telling" us that they are in love like the previous release did.
The extended version gives us plenty of additional details, so the opening scroll of the previous edition is wisely avoided this time around. The audience is smart enough to figure out what is going on in the movie without having to read several paragraphs at the beginning. This change now lets you feel that you are actually "viewing" the complete story instead of picking up in the middle of it. Now there is no need to be caught up on what exactly is going on before you even get started!
Some of the dialogue has been altered too, as well as some of the actual scenes themselves. Changes have been made to the voice of Darkness' Father when he instructs his son on how to "win" Lily. The dialogue has been altered to some degree also, and all for the better I might add. The mood in Darkness' halls is now even more creepy, and the actual seduction of Lily has a more haunting element than before. Now we actually see several shots of the dark phantom -like face of Darkness, with his glowing green eyes, secretly watching Lily - shots that was pretty much absent from the American cut of the film. Very eerie! Also, a wise choice was made to remove the scenes that actually show Darkness at the beginning of the film. This sequence is now carried out using different camera angles during his conversation with Blix, being careful never to show Darkness himself. We do not lay eyes on the true face of Darkness until Lily does, and it is so much more effective that way! Also, the opening dialogue with Darkness at the beginning of the film has been altered.
Other scenes have been extended too, including Jack's encounter with the horrific Meg Mucklebones in the swamp. This sequence was a waste of time in the American version, but here it is very entertaining, with Jack being forced to attempt to sweet talk this ugly monstrosity to save his own skin. Very entertaining to say the least. Also included is a scene where Jack must solve a riddle presented by Gump in punishment for the "sin" of revealing the Unicorns to a mortal. These added sequences make the film more believable in my opinion, as opposed to the all-too-quick pacing of the edited version!
Note that there are a couple of scenes that are included in the American Edit that are not in the Director's Cut. Firstly, there is a lot more kissing between Jack and Lily at the beginning of the film. This is a good exclusion to make seeing that this works against the image of Lily being the "pure and innocent" victim in the story. Secondly, there is a scene in which Jack and Gump are attacked by some sort of long clawed dwarf monsters while in the dungeon halls of Darkness' lair. The scene is only a few seconds long, but did not really serve the story in any way. Thirdly, the scene in which Gump places the broken horn of the Unicorn back onto its forehead is nowhere to be found. I find this omission to be very puzzling, seeing that this is a very important element in the conclusion of the story. The movie does show the two Unicorns together, but the scene of it being restored should have been kept for the Director's Edition of the film.
I recommend this DVD to anyone who was ever even remotely interested in this film before. If you did not like it, give the alternate version presented here a chance. I don't think you will be disappointed!
on June 2, 2011
By this point in time, most of you probably already know whether you are fans of Legend or not, so I won't spend much time detailing the various pros and cons of the film. Suffice it to say, in my humble opinion, the film is a beautifully rendered unapologetic classical fantasy, and for that, I think it succeeds admirably. While it certainly isn't one of Ridley Scott's best films, it is undoubtedly one of his most beautiful. The world he creates is stunning to behold - full of ravishing color, sumptuous detail, and an overall sense of storybook wonder that has rarely been matched.
It is because of the film's visual splendor that I have eagerly awaited its release on Blu-ray. Even when I happily purchased the Ultimate Edition DVD a few years back, I remember thinking that it felt like there was simply too much detail for the standard definition frame to handle. The DVD certainly gave a wonderful impression of the film's beauty, but many of the details seemed to get lost in the mix. As such, it was with a sense of great anticipation that I finally procured a copy of Legend on Blu-ray.
The first thing you'll find when playing either version of the film is a written introduction from Ridley Scott about the source elements used in the transfer process. In short, the Theatrical Cut is transferred from a 2006 HD master, and the Director's Cut is newly transferred in HD from the only remaining "answer print" of the film. Scott discusses the limitations of answer prints, and he seems to feel that the Theatrical Cut has the overall better transfer due to the sources used. Having read this, I prepared myself accordingly and proceeded to do some back-and-forth comparisons of the two versions.
Interestingly enough, I disagree with Scott's sentiments on the two transfers. The Director's Cut is my preferred version of the film, so I decided to sample it first. The opening scenes in the forest provided exactly the type of presentation I was hoping for: richly detailed, awash in vibrant colors, and organically film-like. A big smile swam across my face as I watched, for I felt like I was finally seeing Legend in all of its detailed glory. To be sure, the presentation isn't perfect, and there are times when the print shows its age and limitations: certain shots appear softer than others, and there's the occasional shot that looks downright murky, but on the whole, the film looks just as good as I'd hoped it would. Having given the Director's Cut a decent sampling, I then decided to check out the Theatrical Cut for comparison. If the Director's Cut looked this good, I couldn't imagine how great the Theatrical Cut would look.
To my surprise, despite the supposedly higher quality elements, I found the Theatrical Cut transfer to be less desirable than the Director's Cut, and I can point to one primary reason why: edge enhancement. Depending on the individual viewer and one's sensitivity to edge enhancement, the severity of this issue could vary quite a bit. As for me, I'm pretty sensitive to it, so I immediately noticed it when comparing the opening forest scenes to those found in the Director's Cut. The various leaves and blades of grass all have artificial sharpening halos that make the image appear less three-dimensional and film-like. It's certainly not the most egregious use of edge-enhancement out there, but it's definitely noticeable. To be fair, the image still looks miles better than its standard-definition counterpart, and there are certain shots in the film that look better than they do in the Director's Cut, but in my opinion, the Theatrical Cut just doesn't look as organic as the Director's Cut does. My guess is that this disparity in quality between the two transfers has mostly to do with their relative age - the Theatrical Cut transfer being a few years old and the Director's Cut transfer being brand new.
The other notable difference between the two transfers is the color timing. On the whole, the Theatrical Cut appears a bit more saturated than the Director's Cut. The greens tend to pop a little more (partially aided by the aforementioned edge-enhancement, no doubt), and Darkness' red complexion feels a bit more prominent. Don't get me wrong, the Director's Cut is still full of color and vibrancy too, but it appears to be a shade more muted than the Theatrical Cut. To be honest, I think the quality of the color will mostly boil down to personal preference; they both look good, they're just a little different.
As far as the audio is concerned, I have to once again give the edge to the Director's Cut. The overall audio clarity is more pronounced in the Director's Cut, whereas the Theatrical Cut mix tends to sound a bit murkier. Furthermore, Jerry Goldsmith's orchestral score sounds full and rich, whereas Tangerine Dream's score sounds a bit flat by comparison. This is not to say that the Theatrical Cut sounds bad, rather it simply doesn't have the same richness as the Director's Cut. Admittedly, I'm not nearly as attuned to audio transfers as I am video transfers, so I apologize for any lack of detail in this regard.
Aside from that, we're treated to the same extras as were found on the Ultimate Edition DVD, so you won't be getting anything new in the supplemental department. I know the reason most people will be interested in picking up the Blu-ray is for the high definition transfer, so I hope that my thoughts on the matter have been helpful in some way. To summarize: in my opinion, the Theatrical Cut looks good (despite a dated transfer with some notable edge-enhancement), and the Director's Cut looks great (despite the supposedly lesser source material). However, depending on one's preferred version of the film, as well as what one looks for in an HD transfer, the pros and cons of this Blu-ray may vary from viewer to viewer.
on September 27, 2000
LEGEND has got to be one of the most underrated films I have ever known. Unfortunately, American audiences simply do not appreciate fantasy films when they don't contain singing munchkins or Disneyfied cartoons; they shy away from European style dark-toned fairy tales. There are very few films in all of cinematic history that are as visually sumptuous as this incredible Ridley Scott film. It possesses some of the most incredible art design, for both costumes and sets, that are so complete, detailed and timeless, that you completely believe that this is a seperate and real world. Plus, the makeup effects for Darkness have got to be the closest personification to Evil/Devil you will ever witness; not to mention the fine acting (and voice) of the superb Tim Curry which brings it to horrifying life. The score by Tangerine Dream is nothing short of sublime, similar to Enigma, but without the techno-like percussion. Although Scott does a fine job of fashioning a classic storyline about the battle between good and evil, albeit a bit cliched, you never feel like you know enough about the characters to care for them. They just plop right in from nowhere and we are to take for granted that the 2 leads are desperately in love; there simply is no backstory, and the acting by Cruise is a tad weak. The attempts at comic relief by the goblins/elves is over the top and clashes badly with the more predominant, and better working, dark tone of the film. And the bad pop song that ends the film makes you want to cringe as it is so completely anachronistic and saccharine. The film leaves an opening for a sequel, which I would love to see, given the advances in Visual FX, but only if Scott returned, with a stronger, character driven script, the same art director, and Tim Curry(a must!). However, Cruise's outrageous salary would, no doubt, prohibit it from production. This special edition disc allows one to view the European version, which is longer (and therefore explains the plot holes and visual gaps left by the battered American release), and replaces the original score of the film, while also removing the horrid, horrid pop song everything-is-nice-again-in-paradise- upbeat-hollywood ending. The behind the scenes stuff and commentary is also very enlightening and joyful to any fan of this movie. I highly, highly recommend this film to those who enjoy fantasy, beautiful art direction/cinematography, and dark fairy tales. I'd give it 10 stars if I could, and the pristine DVD conversion with DTS sound is nothing short of absolutely phenomenal. A definite MUST HAVE in any DVD collection.
on February 25, 2000
AS usual, the professional movie reviewers have no idea what to think of a fantasy film. It is beautifully filmed, that they agree on, but the point of the movie is lost on them. Not so myself. The play of light between the good characters is perfect: Jack and Lily, Lily and the unicorn, Jack and the elves, especially Gump. They are loving folk with playful hearts, and the courage to face what might destroy their happiness. Lily is probably the bravest film princess I've ever seen. These displays of good are built alongside and contrasting to the fabulous evil of Tim Curry's Darkness and his despicable servants. I would pay a lot to see the European release; there are clues all over the American release of what was cut from the storyline. What is that globe the Gump holds? Why does the bucket-headed elf have a goat or pig's hoof instead of a hand? Anyway, this is a marvelous film, and just because the story doesn't drill its way into your head like a crusader's mace doesn't mean it's a bad film.
This delightful film is universally lambasted by critics--heaven forbid people enjoy a movie about sweetness and good triumphing over evil! Especially one that has a plot that I can follow on the first viewing! Well, phooey to them! This movie is a creative masterpiece.
In the fairy-tale land of Not-Named, Mia Sara plays the innocent princess Lily, who spends her time romping in the woods with the forest boy Jack, played by Tom Cruise. Meanwhile, in the pits of a hellish dark castle, Tim Curry plays the demonic devil Darkness, who seeks to shroud the world in eternal night and rule over it. But he is prevented from doing so because of a pair of unicorns keep the world stable.
So he has his goblins (yecch, they're disgusting!) follow Lily and Jack to where the unicorns are playing, and then manages to hack off the horn of one of them. Lily has been captured, and Jack is left in a hellish winter wasteland, feeling guilty. He teams up with a bunch of elven creatures and fairies to rescue Lily and--of course--save the world. The end scenes are simply stunning.
Okay, so the dialogue is as cheesy as bad parmesan. So Tom Cruise doesn't wear pants in a blizzard. So Tim Curry is wearing fake muscles and giant horns. So what? All of the elaborately delightful sets, the dialogue, the showers of petals/snow/other--it's all wonderful! All of it fits with the misty plotline and love of beauty that the director CLEARLY had.
You can only enjoy this movie if you don't expect an intellectual experience, sort of like watching "Princess Bride" or "Star Wars."
There's minimal violence and no sex or nudity (except a REALLY plunging neckline that Lily wears at one point), but some scary things are so well-done that they might well scare your kids silly: Tim Curry, despite his suave evilness that kicks all Disney villains around, might scare them with his booming voice and devil-physique; the hideous swamp-hag; the zombie-things; the writhing half-dead human; and the endless parade of hideous goblins.
However, if your kids can handle the ickier parts, this is a better-than-average movie for them to watch--good triumphing over evil may sound trite, but this movie makes it beautiful.
on June 5, 2002
At last, a version of "Legend" that makes sense! The director's cut of Ridley Scott's fairy tale adventure was long overdue for release. Once fans see it, they'll never go back to the original U.S. theatrical release; I certainly won't.
Originally released in 1986, "Legend" was a box office bomb that definitely had the potential of being a success. It has an excellent storyline and icorporates the classic good vs. evil genre that fairy tales are known for. But the film suffered from really bad editing. Nearly thirty minutes of "Legend" was deleted for the U.S. version, leaving many scenes that would normally make sense seem chaotic, stupid, and unnecessary. Plus, Ridley Scott made the very unwise decision of replacing Jerry Goldsmith's original score with that of the pop group Tangerine Dream. When you compare an Academy Award winning film composer to an eighties rock group that no one remembers, I think it's obvious why it was an unwise decision.
The director's cut changes all that. Along with Jerry Goldsmith's original soundtrack being restored, many scenes cut from the U.S. version are restored as well, giving a once chaotic and lacking film clarity and wholeness. The crisp picture quality and sound lets us see and hear Ridley Scott's original vision of a world lived in long ago where light and dark co-exist, and the threat of never seeing another dawn looms dangerously over everything.
For those of you who remain devoted to the U.S. edit of "Legend" with the Tangrine Dream score, you'll be happy to hear that that version is also included in this package (but as I said before, once you see the director's cut, you'll never go back). On top of that, it includes a lot of extra things that will have fans cheering, such as the film's alternate opening, a reconstruction of a scene whose original print was lost, a "making of" documentary, and trailers (very good trailers, I might add), among other things.
Thanks to the technology of DVDs, people can finally see "Legend" as it was meant to be seen. I highly recomend it, especially to those who love fairy tales.