In early 20th-century Montana, Col. William Ludlow lives in the wilderness with his sons, Tristan, Alfred and Samuel. Eventually, the unconventional but close-knit family encounters tragedy when Samuel is killed in World War I. Tristan and Alfred survive their tours of duty, but, soon after they return home, both men fall for Samuel's gorgeous fiancée, Susannah, and their intense rivalry begins to destroy the family.Written by
Complex storyline has poorly motivated characters...
Not having read the novella upon which this is based, I don't quite understand the quirky reasons for the characters to behave as they do in 'Legends of the Fall'--nor do I understand just what the title is supposed to imply. It's all a bit grandiose with some of the most breathtaking color photography of a western landscape ever seen in an American movie--richly deserving of an Oscar for its photography. But the story is another matter--a sprawling, epic kind of familial tale of the struggle for a father's affection, the love of two brothers for the same woman, etc., with all of the characters swept up in tumultuous emotional states without preparing the viewer for the reasons.
The overall effect is disappointing when, after spending a couple of hours with these characters, you have no better understanding of their nature or what makes them tick. And yet, despite poor motivation, all of the actors do outstanding jobs--from Brad Pitt to Henry Thomas to Aidan Quinn to Anthony Hopkins--hats off for some fine acting. But at the core of the movie is a hollow factor that fails to touch base or explain the events. The jumps in continuity are a bit baffling.
On the plus side, the war scenes are especially realistic--and it's nice to see Henry Thomas (the boy from E.T.) developing into a fine actor. The outdoor photography is awesome and the score by James Horner is an impressive one. Too bad the script was such a letdown.
Summing up: a picture that can be enjoyed on its own terms--beautiful to look at but hollow inside.
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