Legend: A Fairytale on Film

The 80’s had some pretty memorable fantasy films like Krull, Willow, and The Princess Bride. A favorite of mine happens to be a strongly mythical movie called Legend. This British/ American classic was directed by Ridley Scott, the same maker of the infamous Alien series, in 1986 and remade in 2002 as a Director’s Cut since the original was a total flop. Legend is well known for being Ridley Scott’s fallen masterpiece and people who have seen it either love it or loathe it.

In the story, we have a world that’s happy and beautiful. The Lord Darkness (Tim Curry) once ruled the world, but has since retreated into the chasms of the earth, to groan and complain of times in a better existence. The world is safe, because the Unicorns, two very dear and sacred animals, rule the land. These gorgeous creatures are linked to the light of day and as long as they remain alive and well the world is protected from evil. They are attracted to one element in mankind, however: innocence. The love between the curious Princess Lily (Mia Sara) and a young hermit named Jack (Tom Cruise) is just that.

Ironically enough, it’s because of this innocence that the Goblins, who serve the Lord of Darkness, are able to find the Unicorns as well. Once both sides are at the right place, and the wrong time, one of the Unicorns is harmed, and the earth is plunged into an eternal winter. Soon after, Darkness has his minions capture Lily and the last Unicorn. Although Darkness looks unbeatable, Jack and his friends are set on doing everything to save Lily, the Unicorn and the world.

Legend has all the elements of a generic fairy tale: The Hero, the Damsel in Distress, the Villain, the Fairies, the Goblins, and all sorts of other mythical creatures. The plot has some likeness to morality- in this instance it’s simply good versus evil- and the dark tones mixed with the aspect of purity is unique on its own. The problem is because of these elements the movie is put into a state of limbo. Legend is too dark for young audiences, but it could also be considered too juvenile for adults. So there isn’t really a core audience, but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad movie.

What Legend lacks in its story quality is made up for the unbelievably stunning, almost dreamlike visuals (that are not exclusively reliable on CGI, I might add) and atmosphere.

Before you plan on watching this yourself, don’t bother watching the original movie. Ridley Scott butchered this by cutting out a bunch of important scenes and replacing the original score done by Jerry Goldsmith with one done by Tangerine Dream (which is still a good score, but removes Legend’s tone whimsical fantasy to something similar to a cult film). The Director’s Cut fixes these horrid mistakes and recaptures the look and feel of a myth.

All in all, Legend is a great film to watch, despite it’s flaws, and any fantasy lover should definitely watch it.