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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 37,854 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) »


A beatiful 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
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Did You Know?


Exterior shots of the ship are the inspired blueprints of the SS Lusitania and her sister ship the SS Mauritania. The ballroom in which 1900 plays his piano in had a dome similar to the dome the SS Mauritania had in her ballroom during the transatlantic period. 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 »


Featured in Un sogno fatto in Sicilia (2000) See more »


Lost Boys Calling
Music by Ennio Morricone
Lyrics by Roger Waters
Produced by Patrick Leonard
Performed by Roger Waters
Guitar solos by Edward Van Halen
Roger Waters appears courtesy of Columbia Records
Edward Van Halen appears courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

The antidote to all your troubles, "1900" will sweep you away
20 September 1999 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

It is at a time like this I wish I could expand my vocabulary to better articulate the virtues and qualities of such a fine film. I also find I'm bursting to talk about this film that I regrettably saw alone. I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but desperately want to share it with everyone.

The talented star of "The Legend of 1900", Tim Roth, presented this film along with Clarence Williams III. His encouragement to the audience was that if anyone was the sort who liked to pick apart at films and critique their lack of realism, they should just leave now. He touted this wonderful vision from the director of Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore, and likened the film to a "dream". He also said that if anyone had seen his own film, "The War Zone", that "1900" was the antidote for it. I was slated to see "The War Zone" the next day, but that was fine by me. I managed by a sheer stroke of luck to get into this Canadian premiere and found it to be absolutely extraordinary and the best film I'd seen so far of the Toronto International Film Festival.

It seems as though mere moments after the initial credits, that the wonderful storytelling and incredible music combined with stunning visuals almost had me moved to tears. While I'll admit that I'd be seeing films all day, no film in my recollection had such an impact so quickly.

The story is one of an abandoned baby who is found on a ocean liner by one of the ship's crew. He is unofficially adopted and named "1900" for the year in which he was born. At a very early age the boy demonstrates an extraordinary gift for piano playing which is only strengthened in his passing years. The boy grows up with no official identity, into a man having never taken a step off of the ship onto dry land in his whole life. The young man, played by Tim Roth is encouraged by his dear friend to leave the boat and pursue a life of fame and fortune as the great pianist he has become. 1900 declines, explaining simply that everything he needs is on the boat.

Well, that should be enough to intrigue you; there's much more of course, but I've no desire to spoil it for anyone. I must encourage everyone to see this film, I can hardly imagine anyone being disappointed. It's for music lovers, dreamers, romantics and film buffs everywhere and my greatest hope is that it will be seen by many, many people, especially those I know and love. And after seeing the film, and hearing Tim Roth's words echoing in my mind, he was absolutely right. It is like a dream, a wonderful dream that I wished would never end. And for a future prediction, I see this film as a Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination for 1999.

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