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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Having watched this film more times than I can remember and reading the
comments left so far I feel that a major message of this film has gone
completely overlooked. Even as a complete golf addict, I can look
beyond the obvious inspirational story and see than the focus is on
Junah's battle with faith, and why does nobody mention that Bagger
Vance is a guardian angel? I'm not a religious person so please don't
get the wrong idea but is it not obvious at the end when old Hardy
Greaves dies and Bagger appears on the horizon? "I'm right here with
ya, I've been here all along..." And please Junah's trauma was caused
by WW1 NOT WW2 - it is 1930 (WW2 did not start until 1939!) OK,the
direction by Redford is fantastic with the portrayal of the characters
done (and acted) extremely well. Will Smith and Matt Damon play the
roles brilliantly, especially Smith. Perhaps Damon seems a little young
to be a veteran at times though, but all the same-flawless. Theron,
physically, looks perfect for the role but, like Damon, not a woman
assumedley in her mid-thirties. I only wish more money could have been
spent on this film and it would have been made into the epic it
deserves to be. Far more than a simple, soft inspirational story. One
must look beyond to see the real message, oh and if your not a golfer,
you might not completely 'get it'.
Film 8.5/10 Story 10/10
Maybe it was because I had a hard week at work. Maybe it was because I just needed something to make me feel good. I don't know. I can't pinpoint it, but for some reason I really liked this movie. Sure it was manipulative, and sure it tried it's best to make you feel all mushy inside, but you know what...I guess I was just in the mood for that, and this movie hit the spot last Friday night. From a cinematography stand point the movie is beautiful. Redford is known for this trait, and indeed has directed some of the most beautiful movies ever made (A River Runs Through It, The Milagro Beanfield War, The Horse Whisperer). He just chooses some very beautiful scenery and runs with it. However, besides the scenery, the movie seemed to flow like a steady river. The acting was superb (even Smith's subdued Bagger), and the story was interesting. I like golf, so maybe that helped, but I do think that anyone can enjoy this movie. You just have to let yourself like it.
I usually like fantasy movies and I really enjoy sports films. Combine
the two well - like "Field Of Dreams" and like this movie - and I am
sure to rate this extremely high. I've seen it three times and enjoyed
it immensely each time.
It reminded me a bit, too, of "The Natural," but instead of baseball, this one features golf and real-life legends Bobby Jones and Walter Hagen playing the local guy, "Rannulph Junuh" (Matt Damon). Like "The Natural," this is beautifully photographed, has a wonderful feel-good ending, a variety of characters, a beautiful lead woman and good acting.
The no-name child actor in here, J. Michael Moncrief, who plays "Hardy Greaves," narrates the film as an older man looking back on this story. The kid is a fine actor, too, and I really enjoyed his Georgia accent. Charlize Theron is the beauty, playing "Adele Invergordon," a woman who organizes this famous golf match between the greatest amateur player of the world, the best professional and "Junuh," who is the focus of this story. Theron's known for her dramatic roles but she exhibits a nice comedy touch in here.
Damon does his normal fine job of acting and Will Smith, as the angelic caddie "Bagger Vance," is uncharacteristically low-key, which I found nice to see. Bruce Magill did a good as Hagen and Joel Gretsch, likewise, for Jones. Magill is obviously the best real-life golfer here among these actors. Damon had to learn the game from scratch, and did a fine job with his swing.
The only part of this film that went a little overboard - but it's the fantasy part of the story - was the New Age-type preaching by "Bagger." However, some of his speeches were simply golf visualization, which has always been taught as a means to concentrate better on one's shot-making. I didn't think hearing the Lord's name in vain a half dozen times was necessary in here, either, but what are you gonna do? Other than those things, this is great film and I one I throughly appreciate every time I see it.
The thing you have to bear in mind when watching The Legend of Bagger
Vance is that sports movies, by their very definition, tend to match
the atmosphere of the sport they depict. Football or Ice hockey movies
for instance tend to be loud, bombastic and flashy, just like the games
themselves. Basketball movies meanwhile often rely on the street/hip
hop connection and are just as loud, but with a slightly more gritty
edge to them, provided you completely forget about the atrocious Space
Jam. Bagger Vance on the other hand revolves entirely around golf and
consequently, is a lot quieter, slower paced and gentle than its brash
genre cousins, but it nevertheless possesses a charm and subtlety that
is quite endearing.
Told completely in flashback, the film's story involves Matt Damon's depressed World War One veteran Rannulph Junnuh taking part in a highly publicised golf tournament against two established (real life) professionals - Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. At first things don't look good, Junnuh hasn't played the game since getting back from the trenches and is a slovenly drunken washout and despite having the support of the townsfolk, nobody really expects him to win. And then he gets a new caddy in the shape of Bagger Vance (Will Smith).
At this point I imagine alarm bells are ringing in your head. Will Smith must mean wise-cracking, one-liners and the word 'damn' being stretched out so that it consists of two syllables right? Well you'll be relieved to know that Bagger is a pleasant change of direction for the normal Smith stereotype. Relaxing on his heels and working his acting muscles instead of his action hero ones, Smith is the undeniable soul of the movie. His eminently likable charm is still there, but he relies more on home spun wisdom and gentle prodding to help Damon back into his game, rather than calling him a honkey and effecting a cocky swagger. Playing off against him, Matt Damon is suitably vulnerable and insecure but is overshadowed a bit and with the exception of Junnuh's two rivals, the rest of the cast might as well be superfluous. Thankfully, Junnuh's redemption and Vance's easy going friendship is enough to carry the film and the story, while corny, is just as charming as the title character.
Elsewhere, director Robert Redford once again shows off his knack for beautiful cinematography. As most of the film takes place on golf courses you're never too far away from some gorgeous scenery and the contrast between the vibrant green vegetation and stunning blue sky makes Bagger Vance a feast for the eyes. Given the film's somewhat slow pace, it also makes this an ideal choice for a wet Sunday afternoon where you'd like to go for a walk and appreciate the countryside but are unable to thanks to the rain.
That said, Bagger Vance still has its faults. The writing is a bit hackneyed and anyone who doesn't like cheese would do well to stay away. Junnuh's love interest sub-plot with golf promoter Adele Invergordon (Charlize Theron) meanwhile feels tacked on and unnecessary, as though somewhere along the production line someone decided that if Junnuh was to fully come to terms with himself he'd have to get it on with a sweet country belle. The positives outweigh the negatives though and if you're in the mood for a relaxing, slow paced movie with a lot of subtleties that not everyone will appreciate, you can't really go wrong with Bagger Vance. This is a film to watch with your feet up, the house clean and a big mug of hot chocolate in your hand. And refreshingly enough for a sports movie, it doesn't feature a scene where a big crowd begins cheering wildly while over-the-top power ballads play in the background, that alone should be enough to raise an eyebrow or two.
I guess I'm really into the "winning through adversity" films. I really
enjoyed films such as "The Natural" and "The Legend of Bagger Vance." I
think the two were about equal. They both show the hero overcoming
adversity through a sport's golden age which is what makes this movie great.
If you showed a golf or baseball movie today it would not be as believable
because they no longer play for the love of the game but for the money.
This was set in a time when the game was more dignified. I never though
much of Will Smith, thinking of him mostly as a comedy type actor but I
think his greatness hit its peak when he started doing these drama type
productions. Smith is sensational in his roll. If Redford had a mental
picture of Bagger Vance before this movie started, I think he actually saw
how Will Smith performed in this film. Matt Damon was good also.
Overall, a great "feel good" film. 9/10
It has been a long time since I have enjoyed a movie as much as I did this
one. We all watch movies for a lot of reasons besides the obvious reason of
"entertainment." While THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE does it in a most
and entertaining way it is all about Redemption. Each of us faces adversity
in our daily life and how we face it marks the quality of the life that we
live. Junuh has faced personal demons for more than ten years since he
fought in WW I. The "Loss of his swing" is more than an athletic loss that
he refers to. He has lost his faith in himself and his ability to face life
after his return from the war.
The role of Bagger Vance, ably played by Will Smith, was not as God like as the character described by Steven Pressfield in his book from which this film was adapted. In the movie Vance had the ability to help people think beyond the obvious and to reach back for something special. In Junuh he helps reinstill a personal belief and an appreciation of life. In the Pressfield book, Vance WAS a God.
All of the roles were well played and the young boy playing Lemmon in his youth stole the show. It was also good to see Jack Lemmon in his final movie role. I thought it was an interesting coincidence that Lemmon's final role was in a mystical movie just as Burt Lancaster's was in THE FIELD OF DREAMS. The score was also especially moving and the music fit the movie to a "T." This is a different kind of movie but still qualifies as a "feel good" movie. We don't always have an opportunity to go back and take a second stab at life and that is the beauty of this movie.
It is a wonderful thing to be able to go back and make amends for mistakes we have made in our lives and to come out on the other side as a better person. That is what Junuh was able to achieve and that made me feel very good when the credits rolled. For those of you who thought this was a golfing movie that is not the case. It is a movie about life and the chance to make a fresh start which is always important for those who struggle to overcome adversity.
A nice, tender film at the hand of writer/director Robert Redford. Matt Damon is the leading man in this film as a former golfer that brushes up on his talents of the past, whilst Will Smith plays a supporting guardian angel type of character which he carries off beautifully. It seems that at this stage in his career, he is better as a supporting actor (as in 'Made in America', 'Six Degrees of Separation' and 'Enemy of the State'), and needs to learn from his more experienced contemporaries like Matt Damon how to maintain audience interest throughout a film. Smith plays a convincing aged character by the name of 'Bagger Vance' who aids Damon in the process of regaining his confidence to win a golf tournament. It is almost a guest appearance in a self contained film which neither belongs to Matt Damon or Robert Redford. It is a film that stands by itself.
I used to love this film a lot, but with time I have grown less fond of
it. Still I regard it as a pretty good film, for a number of reasons.
First, it is very well made, and artistically shot with some highly memorable scenes, such as the one where Will Smith first appears out of the dark.
Second, it is very well directed, by Robert Redford.
Third and finally it has a smashing cast, with Will Smith and Matt Damon carrying it beautifully. Surprisingly, Charlize Theron, who I don't tend to like very much in general, is very good as Damon's love interest. Another surprising thing about this film is that the kid, J. Michael Moncrief, is fantastic in his part as young Hardy Greaves (kid actors, with the exceptions of Rupert Grint and Haley Joel Osment, tend to have very poor acting skills. Yes Daniel Radcliffe, I'm thinking of you). Also, look out for Jack Lemmon's (for some reason uncredited) role as the old Hardy Greaves (it was one of his final roles).
"The Legend of Bagger Vance" is a good watch, but it does get a bit monotonous after a while. Still, if you love golf, you're bound to enjoy it. I give a respectable 8/10.
Hats off to Robert Redford.
Has anybody noticed or is it just me... that this movie is based on the Hindu religious epic: the Bhagwad geeta.
Robert has even retained the same names... "bagger vans" pronounced "Bhagwans"... meaning God in Hinduism.... and in this case... specifically.. lord Krishna...
and the main character.... "Rannulph Junuh".. pronounced "Arjuna".. meaning The warrior Arjuna... in the geeta...
the Hindu mythology reads such: Arjuna does not have the will to fight his own brothers in a dispute over a kingdom.. though he is a supreme archer.. he has lost the will to fight....Krishna... advises him over i think 14 days the logic of war and why he has to fight and make things right..
the movie: rannulph has lost his swing or the will to play golf... though being highly talented... bager vans aka god... teaches rannulph the meaning of golf and helps him find his calling and rest as they say is history...
wow... never knew mr. redford was so influenced by Hinduism...
good movie.. very well shot...
and a southern movie to boot.. too good.
You know, there's basically only two ways you can watch movies. You
either use them as food for the thinking mind, or you simply sit back
and see where it takes you, as if it's the first thing you've ever
In the first way, your mind generates expectations of what it will get to consume. Then it will be presented its food for consumption, and it will start up its filters in order to judge whether the food is good or bad. And every time you think you can fit it with a negative label, you will gladly make known that you made that recognition.
In the other way, you enter the movie fully and openly, without expectations. And as the experience unfolds, you feel into the characters and relate it to your own being.
From the first perspective, this movie is not very good. It's slow, a bit airy-fairy, and the plot quite boring. Your mind will probably already know what's going to happen all the time, and find plenty of negative labels it can paste onto the movie. On to the next one, the next thing to consume, it will tell you.
From the other perspective, this is one of the best movies if not the best ever created in the history of humanity, if you ask me. It gradually unfolds into showing how R. Junuh (Matt Damon) becomes more present in where he is, as he makes crucial steps in his mind and lets go of the baggage that remains inside of it. By following this process and relating to it ourselves, this movie is a wonderful tool for becoming more present and being masterful in whatever we happen to be doing in our own lives.
Bagger Vance (Will Smith) basically tells that the only thing that Junuh can do in order to win this game of golf is let go of his thoughts. The thoughts that tell him who he is or should be in relation to others, what he feels about the present 'situation', or what he needs to do in order to succeed. He learns that he needs to simply drop that self-centeredness, essentially that whining child inside, and let the moment that is already there take him over instead of his mind.
By doing so ourselves during the movie, we might become more present too as our thoughts fade to the background and as we become more aware of what's going on around us, instead of being absorbed only in what's going on inside the screen, behind the electronic window. We can get into that state where we feel our environment, where we drop all mental baggage, and where we can simply excel in what we do, whatever it is that apparently wants to be done through us. We can remember how it was before all the mental conditioning started somewhere in our childhood, and become present again. That's the real potential of this movie, the experience it can drag you into. Which is much better than a temporary pleasure, if you ask me.
And is that not the only thing to do in this game we call life? Is that not the ultimate teaching that the Bhagavad Gita and ultimately the mystical branches of all religions point to? In this movie, it's not Bagger Vance that awakens R. Junuh, it simply all happens pretty much independently of anything, in the true experiential recognition of itself. And that's really all we need to know, and the limit of all that we can really get from any type of immersion in media content.
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