Tom Cruise reportedly wasn't happy with the American cut of this movie and wouldn't talk about it for years because of it. He very much encouraged fans to go with the Director's Cut.
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Widely rumored to have been a source of inspiration for Shigeru Miyamoto's classic game series The Legend of Zelda.
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Filming was interrupted twice, firstly by the studio burning to the ground and secondly, by the death of Tom Cruise's father.
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Director Ridley Scott drew most of his inspiration for this movie from Beauty and the Beast (1946), as well as such Disney animated classics as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Fantasia (1940), and Bambi (1942).
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The face of goblin Blix (Alice Playten) was designed after that of Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones. According to Playten, she thought up the idea, which was supported by director Ridley Scott. He then had special make-up effects artist Rob Bottin implement the concept.
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Jack's armor was made from flattened bottle caps.
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The famous scene in which Princess Lili (Mia Sara) is taken to see and touch the unicorns by Jack (Tom Cruise) was filmed within the gardens of Pinewood Studios, as at the time of filming, the vast forest set had been destroyed by a fire. This information was stated by Ridley Scott on the director's commentary on the Ultimate Edition DVD. Pinewood Studios were built on the grounds of Heatherden Hall, an historic "stately home" also seen in many Pinewood films, so the gardens were long established, and suitable for the dense greenery required for Legend.
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Ridley Scott was inspired to cast Tim Curry as Darkness after seeing The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). He had also considered casting Richard O'Brien as Meg Mucklebones.
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For scenes filmed in the Forest, every line was dubbed in post-production as the noise on the set was so loud. Mia Sara (Princess Lili) confirmed this fact on the Ultimate Edition DVD.
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Tim Curry had to wear a large, bull-like structure atop his head with three-foot fiberglass horns supported by a harness underneath the make-up. The horns placed a strain on the back of Curry's neck because they extended forward and not straight up. Bottin and his crew finally came up with horns that were hollow and lightweight enough. At the end of the day, he spent an hour in a bath in order to liquefy the soluble spirit gum. At one point, Curry got too impatient and claustrophobic and pulled the make-up off too quickly, tearing off his own skin in the process. Director Ridley Scott felt both horrified and sorry for Curry, and immediately tried to find an easier way to include his character. Since he didn't want Curry to put more make-up on his torn skin, he shot around Tim for a week. He also realized this could add dramatic build-up for the character, and re-shot some of his opening scenes this way. The footage of him in the opening to the U.S. Theatrical release was the footage he filmed before any of this took place.
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In his commentary on the Director's Cut, Ridley Scott states that the glasses on the table covered with jewels and treasures as a gift to Princess Lili in Darkness' throne room are still in his possession today.
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Ridley Scott admits that comments made by some pot-smoking attendees at a screening got him second-guessing himself, and influenced him to cut this movie from two hours and thirty minutes to one hour and thirty-eight minutes.
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In the European release print, the face of lead villain Darkness (Tim Curry) can't be seen until one hour and three minutes in (more than two-thirds through).
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Composer Jerry Goldsmith's original score was removed by the studio after the first round of test screenings. In an effort to appeal to "the kids", executives commissioned Tangerine Dream to create a replacement. Until 2002, Goldsmith's original score was heard only with the film's European release.
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Ridley Scott discovered Mia Sara in a casting session and was impressed by her "good theatrical instincts".
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When Jack dives off the rock in the forest, it is Ridley Scott's daughter Jordan who is playing Princess Lily, and a stuntman playing Jack. This was done to make the rock look larger than what it was. The close-ups of Mia Sara were added during post-production.
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At the time prior to filming, Tom Cruise had a disliking for cutting his hair. When cast for the part, his long locks were the perfect look for the forest dwelling Jack. It is the longest length of Tom's natural hair captured in a movie.
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The sound of the unicorns at play is actually a recording of humpback whales.
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Initially, the quest was longer, but it was substantially reduced. Director Ridley Scott wanted to avoid too many subplots that departed from the main story and go for a "more contemporary movement rather than get bogged down in too classical a format."
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Tim Curry's performance as Darkness was ranked by Entertainment Weekly as the best performance in a bad movie.
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Ridley Scott wanted this movie to have an original screenplay because he felt that "it was far easier to design a story to fit the medium of cinema than bend the medium for an established story". By chance, he discovered several books written by William Hjortsberg, and found that the writer had already written several scripts for some unmade lower-budgeted movies. Scott asked him if he was interested in writing a fairy tale. Fortunately, he was already writing some, and agreed.
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When it came time to assemble the full director's cut, the original session masters for the Jerry Goldsmith score could not be located. However, Mike Ross-Trevor of Hit Factory Studios in London had kept a two-track digital copy, mixed down from eight-track session masters, which he knew "would be worth preserving." Most of these tapes contained complete takes, which had to be re-edited from scratch to match the cues in the recut print.
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With the exception of Tom Cruise and Mia Sara, all the principal actors and actresses spent several hours every morning having extensive make-up applied. Between eight and twelve prosthetic pieces were applied individually to each face, then made up, molded, and grafted onto the actor's or actress' face so that the prosthetics moved with their muscles. Each person needed three make-up artists working on him or her, for an average time of three and a half hours spent applying prosthetics. Out of all of the characters, the most challenging one, in terms of make-up, was Darkness.
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The voice of Gump (David Bennent) was re-dubbed by Alice Playten (Blix). For the German version, the voice of Blix (Alice Playten) was dubbed by David Bennent (Gump), who also voiced himself.
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In the music video for Bryan Ferry's "Is Your Love Strong Enough" (which is on the soundtrack), clips from this movie are played, and at one point, Bryan climbs up invisible stairs set into a huge screen playing a clip, and at the top of the stairs, a door opens, and David Gilmour from Pink Floyd is seen playing the guitar solo from the song.
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At one point, Ridley Scott considered Mickey Rooney to play one of the major characters, but he did not look small enough next to Tom Cruise.
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William Hjortsberg's first draft had Princess Lili slowly transform into a clawed and fur-covered beast who is whipped and sexually seduced by the antagonist (called Baron Couer De Noir in this draft).
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David Bennent was about eighteen when he played the boy-elf Gump and Annabelle Lanyon, who played the faerie Oona, was about twenty-four.
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Early on, Ridley Scott worked with Alan Lee as a visual consultant, who drew some characters and sketched environments. However, Scott eventually replaced Lee with Assheton Gorton, a production designer who he had wanted for Alien (1979) and Blade Runner (1982). Scott hired Gorton because he knew "all the pitfalls of shooting exteriors on a soundstage. We both knew that whatever we did would never look absolutely real, but would very quickly gain its own reality and dispense with any feeling of theatricality."
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Working title was originally "Legend of Darkness".
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Filming stopped when the "007" soundstage burned to the ground. The remainder of this movie was shot on hastily-constructed sets.
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The Dress Waltz, and other dance sequences, were choreographed by Arlene Phillips, who is famous for her role as a judge in the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing (2004). She is a long-term friend of director Ridley Scott, and was once a babysitter for his children.
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In the scene when Blix (Alice Playten) is approaching the unicorn to take its horn, the unicorn "falling down" is actually footage of the horse standing up shown backwards to make it appear that it's struggling to stay standing.
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Ridley Scott considered making this an incredibly dark horror movie, filled with graphic violence, gore, and possibly a rape scene. This, however, was changed to a suspense movie while shooting began, then an action movie after numerous recuts were made for the American release. The Director's Cut of this, being compared to the American Version, is good evidence for this.
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Originally, Ridley Scott "only had the vague notion of something in pursuit of the swiftest steed alive which, of course, was the unicorn." He also felt that they should have a quest and wanted unicorns, as well as magic armor and a sword. William Hjortsberg suggested plunging the world into wintery darkness.
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Just before beginning principal photography on Blade Runner (1982), Ridley Scott and William Hjortsberg spent five weeks working out a rough storyline.
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Mia Sara was born in 1967, so she was sixteen in 1984, when production for this movie began. But it took a further three years before this movie was finally completed by Ridley Scott, because of this movie's immensely troubled production history. NOTE: The original poster of this entry's math doesn't work, as this movie was released in December 1985 in the U.K. and in April 1986 in the U.S. If production began in 1984 and it took another three years to complete this movie, it wouldn't have been released until 1987.
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The "icicles" in the treasure cavern were made out of several hundred pounds of paraffin wax.
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By the time Ridley Scott had finished Blade Runner (1982), he and William Hjortsberg had a script that was "lengthy, hugely expensive, and impractical in its size and scope". They went through it and took out large sections that were secondary to the story. The two men went through fifteen script revisions.
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At one point, director Ridley Scott wanted to shoot the entire movie on 70mm film stock, but this was deemed too expensive. Richard Edlund came up with the idea of shooting on 70mm film stock, taking the negative and reducing the actors and actresses to any size they wanted, but this was also deemed too expensive and Scott had to find an ensemble of small actors.
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The production was filmed on the Pinewood Studio soundstage that had been originally created for The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Later known as the 007 stage and the Cubby Broccoli stage. It has had to be re-built at least twice due to accidents on the stage, as at 2021.
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According to Ridley Scott on his commentary for the film, Tim Curry as Darkness had to wear 18 inch iron frame lifts. Tim stands 5'9" (175.26 cm), that means with the lifts Darkness stands 7'3" (220.98 cm).
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The title song, "Is Your Love Strong Enough" by Bryan Ferry was covered by How to Destroy Angels for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011).
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In the American cut, Darkness gives his speech of "In the Beginning, there was Darkness" showing an opposing perspective to the introduction of the Book of Genesis in the Bible. The themes, especially in the Director's cut, parallel the book Paradise Lost by John Milton which focuses on Satan's perspective. Ridley Scott makes allusions to Christianity in many of his movies.
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In the scene where the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) and Blix (Alice Playten) converse in the Great Tree, his claw and Blix's nose don't touch, but hold the pose. This resembles the "Creation of Adam" by Michaelangelo where God and Adam's fingers reach out to each other.
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In 2021, the Uk's FilmFour ran a Jerry Goldsmith scored version of the film. Curiously, this particular version, which appears to be the original European or new Director's Cut, started without either company logo of the original distributors - Universal Pictures and/or 20th Century Fox. It started straight from the "Arnon Milchan Presents" blue text in the opening titles. Its unclear if the Rights, for this version, are still with Universal, Disney-Fox, Arnon Milchan, and/or Ridley Scott.
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When Princess Lili (Mia Sara) enters Nell's (Tina Martin's) cottage she sees a clock on the wall. While she looks at it, it is suddenly covered with frost, a warning of the winter that will descend when one of the unicorns is killed and has its horn cut off.
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In some versions of Ridley Scott's "Blade Runner", there is a seemingly random shot of a Unicorn, that some think may be a Replicant dream. The shot is taken from unused Unicorn material from "Legend". Some fan theories have linked "Legend" and "Blade Runner" because of this "coincidential" shot of a running Unicorn.
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Adam and Eve and Dante's Inferno are inspirations behind the movie's story: Jack sets off into the dark underworld to save Lily from Darkness after Lily touches a unicorn which is forbidden.
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Director Ridley Scott, along with everyone involved with making this movie, has stated multiple times how the Director's Cut was much more thought provoking, mainly because it dives into the impurity of humans and their sins. Jack was supposed to be very lustful of Princess Lili from the start, but eventually begins to truly love her. Leader of the forest elves Gump is a very angry person. Lili sometimes shows greed throughout this movie, and the sea-hag Meg Muckelbones is distracted by her vanity as she is beheaded after admiring her own reflection. After a test screening with mixed to positive results, Scott re-cut this movie to a "stereotypical 80's fantasy". Hence his recommendation for the Director's Cut.
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In the scene where the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) is going to kill the unicorn, the hill of rocks that Jack (Tom Cruise) climbs was instead going to be a pile of rotting bodies. The filmmakers decided to quickly make them look like rocks, as they felt that they looked too disturbing and grotesque, and were deemed unnecessary to the scene. If you look carefully, you can see decaying faces or skulls in the pile.
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The Director's Cut reveals an alternative ending where Jack remains in the forest, and Lili goes home alone, with plans to see him again soon.
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Scenes that were in the original script, but never filmed, included Princess Lili's encounter with a "house brownie" (like the ones in Willow (1988)), Lili transforming into a humanoid cat creature, Darkness growing huge bat wings during his battle with Jack, a final revelation that Jack is actually immortal, and the unicorn taking Darkness down after the sun sets, causing the light trick used to send Darkness to his doom fails.
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At the beginning of the movie, Darkness says "I require the solace of the shadows and the dark of the night. Sunshine is my destroyer." Just in case the audience forgot, while Darkness is in the underground cave with Lili, he says it again, foreshadowing his defeat.
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