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The Legend of 1900 (1998)
"La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano" (original title)

R  |   |  Drama, Music, Romance  |  28 October 1998 (Italy)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 37,792 users   Metascore: 58/100
Reviews: 234 user | 70 critic | 28 from Metacritic.com

A baby boy, discovered in 1900 on an ocean liner, grows into a musical prodigy, never setting foot on land.



(monologue Novecento),
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 17 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Danny Boodmann
Jelly Roll Morton
The Girl
Gabriele Lavia ...
'Pops', the Shopkeeper
Niall O'Brien ...
Harbor Master
Mexican Stoker
Luigi De Luca ...
Neapolitan Stoker
Black Stoker (as Femi Elufowoja Jr.)
Nigel Fan ...
Chinese Stoker
Roger Monk ...
Irish Stoker
Leonid Zaslavski ...
Polish Stoker
Bernard Padden ...


Shortly after the Second World War, Max, a transplanted American, visits an English pawn shop to sell his trumpet. The shopkeeper recognizes the tune Max plays as one on a wax master of an unreleased recording, discovered and restored from shards found in a piano salvaged from a cruise ship turned hospital ship, now slated for demolition. This chance discovery prompts a story from Max, which he relates both to the shopkeeper and later to the official responsible for the doomed vessel, for Max is a born storyteller. Though now down on his luck and disillusioned by his wartime experiences, the New Orleans-born Max was once an enthusiastic and gifted young jazz musician, whose longest gig was several years with the house band aboard the Virginian, a posh cruise ship. While gaining his sea legs, he was befriended by another young man, the pianist in the same band, whose long unlikely name was Danny Boodman T.D. Lemons 1900, though everyone just called him 1900, the year of his birth. ... Written by GMBaxter

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

ship | 1900s | piano | pianist | jazz | See All (89) »


An epic story of a man who could do anything... except be ordinary. See more »


Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

28 October 1998 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

La légende du pianiste sur l'océan  »

Box Office


$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$39,200 (USA) (29 October 1999)


$259,127 (USA) (10 December 1999)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (international)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Composer Ennio Morricone also provided the score for Bernardo Bertolucci's similarly titled 1900 (1976). See more »


At the beginning of the film, the immigrants are happy to be entering America through New York. However, the ships are shown passing from right to left in front of the Statue of Liberty. This would be taking them out of New York harbor, not into it. See more »


[first lines]
Max: I still ask myself if I did the right thing when I abandoned his floating city. And I don't mean only for the work. The fact is, a friend like that, a real friend - you won't meet one again. If you just decide to hang up your sea legs, if you just want to feel something more solid beneath your feet - and it's then you no longer hear the music of the gods around you. But, like he used to say, you're never really done for, as long as you got a good story, and someone to tell it to. ...
See more »


Version of Novecento (2006) See more »


Big Fat Ham
Written by Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton (uncredited)
Performed by Ferdinand 'Jelly Roll' Morton (as 'Jelly Roll' Morton)
Edizioni Chappell s.r.l
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

19 May 2004 | by (Luxembourg City, Luxembourg) – See all my reviews

Not a classic, but whoa, some of that piano playing just sweeps you right off your feet. Tim Roth is good as the handsome pianist Nineteenhundred and so is all the the rest of the cast. This cast also includes Clarence Williams III, presumably the grandson of Clarence Williams (the man who wrote the song "Basin Street Blues" one hell of a classic), as Jelly Roll Morton. This leads me on to one of the most impressive parts of the film where Nineteenhundred and Morton have a match to see who is the best pianist. There is some piano playing in this scene which will leave pianists with there mouths hanging open. Probably the best thing about this film is it's music. There are many rousing themes played throughout the film, especially the love theme played while Nineteenhundred kisses a girl he has fallen in love with, a simple yet very effective theme. Another thing that makes this film very good is the fantastic camera-shots, especially one of Nineteenhundred as he stands halfway across the plank which leads him from the boat to New York, undecided whether or not he should leave the boat and head for world-wide celebrity on land, or stay on the boat and remain unknown to anyone but the passengers. I have got to get myself the soundtrack to this film and you have got to see it somehow. Enjoy!

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