by Lillian Csernica on April 14, 2015
Legend (1985) is one of those tragedies of film-making that leave you sitting there thinking, “This could have been so good!”
The Lord of Darkness is lonely. Instead of settling for finding a consort, he decides to destroy the power of Light completely by killing the last two remaining unicorns and seizing their horns. He sends his goblins out to do the deed in the magical forest.
Tom Cruise plays Jack, a young fellow who frolics about in this same forest with an elf, a fairy, and two dwarves. Mia Sara plays Princess Lili, who meets up with Jack in the forest. (There is no castle or royal family or Unpleasant Betrothed in this movie. Princess Lili exists in something of a medieval vacuum.) Jack offers to show her the unicorns.
Hands up, everybody who thinks this is probably a really bad idea.
Sure enough, the Lord of Darkness’ goblins follow Jack and Lili and succeed in shooting the unicorn stallion with a poisoned dart. Jack gets all upset, knowing how dangerous this could be. Lili, who is apparently a heartless airhead, laughs off his worries and throws her golden ring into the pond, saying she’ll marry whoever finds it. She’s standing in a magical forest where goblins have just assassinated one of the only two remaining unicorns and she’s willing to marry whoever (or whatever) is the first to find her ring and return it? When I was sitting in the theater watching this movie, this was the point where I decided Lili deserved whatever happened to her. Here’s a hint:
From here on the plot takes some strange turns. For a while it felt like I was watching two different movies that had been spliced together in alternating scenes. My thinking is Ridley Scott has enough material for two or three movies here. Putting all of it into one movie doesn’t work because some fairy tales are meant to stand alone and cannot be mixed together into one big glittery enchanted stew.
This is an elf playing a violin while standing in the snow surrounded by a cloud of soap bubbles.
The truth is, Legend is worth seeing, especially for Tim Curry playing the Lord of Darkness. All that makeup can’t possibly interfere with or obscure his talent. Legend won a lot of awards centered on cinematography, costuming, and special effects. The complete version ran 125 minutes long. Screenings indicated that taxed the attention span of audiences, so a total of 30 minutes were cut from the film prior to its official theatrical release. What made it to theaters was a rush job, butchered and stitched back together. Once you know this, you know why continuity goes to hell in a handbasket when Our Heroes are about to attempt the daring rescue of Princess Lili. In 2002, Ridley Scott released his director’s cut, giving the world the movie he intended to make.