Film 8.5/10 Story 10/10
The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000)
User ReviewsReview this title
Film 8.5/10 Story 10/10
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.
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.
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.
Overall, a great "feel good" film. 9/10
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.
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.
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.
After viewing this film, I am feeling really good about myself right about now. This movie was uplifting and inspiring. You will feel good about yourself after seeing it. And that is probably what Robert Redford has hoped would happen. Hehe. That little s***. This movie has the exact feel of those other feel-good movies that have come before it. Ex. THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION, OCTOBER SKY, etc. But, for some reason THE LEGEND OF BAGGER VANCE seemed to be one of the better films of that genre. It almost made me cry, which very rarely ever happens. Matt Damon is a good actor. I hope to see more of him everywhere. If you are in the mood for a happy movie that will make you feel good about yourself, see this one.....5/5.
Oh, and it was good to see Jack Lemmon in this film. Especially since it is the last one he ever plays in.
Cinematography, etc. is also very well executed.
I thought that Damon did a very credible job as Junuh, although his character is a Redford clone, right down to the haircut and whispery delivery of his lines, and Will Smith was surprisingly quite good as Bagger Vance. I must admit when I read the novel I had a hard time imagining Smith playing this part, but he carries it off with Morgan Freeman-esque style.
I completely disagree with every reviewer who enjoyed Charlize Theron's performance. Her character is little more than a footnote in the book, and in this film they greatly expanded her role to have a romantic subplot that frankly has nothing to do with the rest of the movie and bogs down the story. Ms. Theron is very beautiful, but her accent is TERRIBLE!!!! Watch her first few scenes with the town elders and tell me how you could ever believe that is a real Georgia accent.
Similarly, the young Hardy, who has a much more credible Southern accent, seems to lose it completely by the time he's grown up to become the narrator, Jack Lemmon. Little continuity errors like that drag this film down.
All in all, Bagger Vance is not a bad film, but it's not great either.
Best suited for golfers and fans of the Great Gatsby.
The regional accents are particularly bad -- why couldn't they bring on a coach or at least get everyone to use the same fictional accent?
I think overly romanticizing a racial stereotype is just as demeaning and more pernicious than denigration. Just ask Native Americans. They'd be better off being portrayed as savages than as spiritual, environmental, peaceful, wise people. At least the former is an obvious trap. Redford should know better, and here is just capitalizing on the Tiger Woods rush.
It's about a Georgian named Rannulph Junuh (Matt Damon) who marches off to World War I one of America's greatest golfers but comes back without his swing. Coaching him back is his ex-lover Adele (Charlize Theron), a boy named Hardy (J. Michael Moncrief) who won't stop believing in him, and the title figure, a mysterious caddy (Will Smith) who tells Junuh that golf, like life, is "a game that can't be won, only played."
As with other Redford films, there is no real dialogue in "Bagger Vance". There are a lot of speeches, as various characters wait for their turn in close-up and for the music to swell before unloading some great profundity. "Your Dad stared adversity in the eye, and he beat it back with a broom" "This is my last 18 holes, Junuh, and I can't think of a better way to end it." "I like the way we danced." "It was only a moment ago". Those last two lines are each repeated, in case you missed them.
I get the feeling Redford treats his actors the way his directors treated him, telling Damon and Theron "Do that again, only blonder this time". Beauty is everywhere in "Bagger Vance", and the camera and lighting work here are exceptional, but there's never a feeling of real life creeping into the corners of the frame.
What's good in this film is Moncrief, the one real Southern accent in the cast who has fun and a disarmingly non-precocious way about him. Joel Gretsch showcases a convincingly authentic swing as golf legend Bobby Jones, one of Junuh's celebrated opponents in a big match at the end. Smith is enjoyable, too, making an otherwise annoyingly tricked-up character amusing at times with his sly, subtle delivery, about the only subtle thing in "Bagger Vance". It's a shame Redford couldn't have made Bagger's true otherworldly nature more of a mystery, but then Redford isn't one to let a point go by without beating you over the head with it.
Jack Lemmon narrates and appears in a cameo role as the adult Hardy. While obviously showing signs this would be his last film role, he makes his bad club swings as fun here as he did on TV at Pebble Beach. Redford's focus on actors does pay off with this old pro, and in some other cases. Everyone acquits themselves decently, anyway, with nice moments evenly distributed here and there among the chaff. The golf action, when it happens, is shot prettily, as is the Depression-era costumes and set design.
But everything moves so slow, especially when the game is underway. "You've got an answer for everything, Bagger," Junuh says, and so he does. Or else Adele's got an answer. Or Junuh's got an answer for Hardy. These aren't people but fortune cookies with pre-formed messages when you crack them open.
Meanwhile, you wonder why no one zaps Junuh with a penalty stroke for all his on-course ruminations. Never mind. It's not really golf they're playing. It sure looks pretty, though, and that's the point.
People that didn't like this movie obviously didn't think deep enough to realize how symbolic it truly is. Having had some rough patches in life myself this movie spoke deeply to me as I'm sure it will to many who see it. Don't pass on this movie by its lower rating. I'm generally a person who only watches movies 7 and up, but I am so glad I chose to watch this.
I RARELY give movies a 10/10. I'm telling you though -- this movie deserves it.
Having said that, there are few things I would complain about regarding this film...but then again, I like gold. It does seem to me that some hint of Bagger in the climactic WWI scenes would have helped tie the film together. And visually realizing at the end of the film that Bagger has not aged, even though it is 60 years later would have been helpful...again to tie the beginning and end of the film together.
In terms of performances here, I was impressed, and here's why: yes, we can get a sense of whether someone is a truly good actor in an action pic, but what can they do in a serious film? And, with the exception of "Six Degrees Of Separation" (in which he had a supporting role), this was Will Smith's first serious film...and he comported himself very well. Matt Damon had less to prove here, having been in a number of serious films, but he also does very well here in a role where in various scenes he has to be very up or very down...and he balances it all pretty well. Similarly Charlize Theron continued her series of fine performances here...certainly one of our most stunningly beautiful actresses. Bruce McGill as Walter Hagen is wonderful, and he is a supporting actor I have come to have a great deal of respect for. Joel Gretsch is equally good as Bobby Jones, and I'm surprised we don't see him in more feature films, although he is quite active in television. J. Michael Moncrief as the young Hardy Greaves...well, I had mixed feelings here...a little uneven...but pretty good. And of course, it was nice to see an ailing (both in the film and in real life) Jack Lemmon. Lane Smith a newspaper man was also a welcome addition to the film, although his role was not overly substantial here.
My guess is that if you really "get" the psyche of golf, you'll love this movie. If you don't, there may be parts that bore you, but you can still enjoy some very fine performances. But make no mistake...this is a "serious" film.
When people first judge this movie they will probably see it as just your normal sports movie and in this case its golf. I am a golfer but you can absolutely hate golf and still enjoy this movie. Being a golfer really only helps with the technicalities of the sport, which the movie minimally shows.
The movie is just one big metaphor for someone who is need of faith. In this movie that person is Junah, played by Matt Damon (whos performance is excellent), Junah was one of the highest praised upcoming golfers in the 1920s but after serving in WWI and becoming a war hero, he suffers from memories of battle and has lost his faith in just about anything from his old girlfriend, Adele, played by Charlize Theron (another great performance), his faith in talents, and especially his faith in life, which the movie centers on.
Just when Junah's faith is nearly gone for good while horribly swing golf balls in his backyard, Bagger Vance, played by Will Smith, (greatest actor today and a legendary performance), comes out of nowhere, like an angel(WINK WINK) and immediately tries helping Junah.
This movie is just one big metaphor of an angel who is disguised as a golf caddy and is uplifting the faith of a person in need. Golf is just the format or stage they use to translate this message in a different way.
You know Bagger is an angel because he never receives nearly any of the rewards he should receive after all the help he has given Junah, his spiritually perfect advice (like an angels would be), and at the end there is a clear give away when Hardy(the little boy, the narrator, and the old man in the beginning and end of the film) dies from a heart attack on the golf course and wakes up in heaven(which is still the golf course he was playing on) to see Bagger waving to him in his ageless form. This is also showing that the movie suggest heaven isn't this big epic white scenery of clouds but instead a place that you are the most happy.
I'm not a very religious person but this movie is a religious/spiritual/life experience that is great in all areas from storyline, script,acting, directing, and cinematography. You will be moved after watching this.
So for the people who haven't seen it....watch it. For the people who have but didn't realize the real story behind it...watch it again and my mind blown....and for the people who have watched it and did get the memo....watch it again and still be blown away and entertained like I am every time.
Having directed Brad Pitt in A River Runs Through It,Robert Redford directs Matt Damon in The Legend Of Bagger Vance,a sentimental,warm hearted tale with a stern hint of life's misapprehensions at it's core.Indeed it is very pleasant,with some beautiful cinematography and engaging ,thoughtful performances.However,it gets kind of long and drawn out towards the end,and the end outcome is pretty obvious if you think about it.Still,Will Smith carries on from Enemy Of The State in proving he's got versatility as an actor aside from comedy films,in a cliched but thoughtfully pinned role as the mystical caddy arriving to aid Damon's struggling former golfer.Charlize Theron is also stunningly beautiful in her role,at one scene revealing herself in sexy lengeraie which should set pulses of the male viewer's running.The film is interestingly told from the perspective of an aged golfer suffering a heart attack on the golf coarse at the opening of the film,reliving his experiences as a 10 year old boy at the time the film is set.A sweeping score accompanies the proceedings ,nicely rounding off the film's whole.A tee in one,or whatever.***and a half.
Golf is different than any sport, and that is because it is a gentleman's game. There is a level of integrity and honesty to it. You are responsible for keeping your own score and you are expected to uphold the rules of the game even when no one is there to govern you. Could you imagine in hockey if you hooked a man from behind and the ref didn't see it, you then went up to him and said, " look, I just took down Joe and I deserve two minutes in the box for that?" Or if in football, you told the ref that you didn't really make the catch, that the ball touched the ground first? It is unheard of. But not in golf. Not only is it your responsibility, it is your oath to do so, because if one wins the game of golf without integrity, then one is not a real man. I realize how surreal that sounds, but it is so true. Your victory would be tarnished and that would stay etched in your mind forever. That is one of ( but certainly not the only ) the beauties of golf. Such is one of the themes of this film. Golf is the back drop and it deals with issues such as these but it is a film about much more.
Critics have criticized the film for being too shallow and not containing enough substance, but I vehemently disagree. You have to look for what this is about at times, but believe me it is there. Will Smith plays Bagger Vance in by far his most in depth performance. Smith is known more for his comedic roles and his propensity for box office success where as Matt Damon has had success box office wise as well, but not nearly the kind that Will has. Yet he is known more for his great layered performances in films like Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr. Ripley. However, in Bagger Vance, Smith steals every scene he is in with Damon. This is a performance that is worthy of an Oscar nod as best supporting actor thus far. He is that good.
Bagger Vance is a character that comes into Rannulph Junnah's ( Damon ) life just as he's entered into a golf tournament against the two best golfers of their era, Walter Hagen and Bobby Jones. Junnah was once a revered golfer but then went to WWII and came back a scarred man. He never regained his swing and now he flounders in a sea of confusion and drinks his life away. He is given this one chance at greatness again because of a young boy's belief in him.
The town is sponsoring a $10,000 dollar golf tournament in the middle of the Great Depression but it will only back it if one of their home grown talents will compete. Hardy Greaves is a young boy of maybe 12, and he remembers when Junnah was the best golfer the south had ever known. He tells the mayor and all the other town folk that he can get Junnah to play. He doesn't disappoint. He convinces Junnah that he can get his swing back again, with a little practise. One night as Junnah is attempting in vain to regain his stroke, Bagger Vance comes walking into his life out what seems to be nowhere. Somehow a conversation is started and Bagger Vance ends up being Junnah's caddy for the big match. Now where did this man come from? How did he get here and why is here? These questions are never answered but most people that I know and have talked to about the film think he is a guardian angel of sorts. Was he sent here just so Junnah could regain his stroke? Perhaps. Maybe God really does love golf that much. But maybe he was sent here not only to help Junnah with his game, but to help him with his life. Golf is like the art of Zen to some people and in here it is spoken of in the same reverence. If Junnah is to regain all that he once was, he is going to have to get rid of all his inner demons. And sometimes inner demons are a bitch to ostracize.
Bagger Vance is very laconic in his approach to things. He only says what needs to be said and the rest has to be learned. In all of the teachings about golf that are preached about in this film, the same can be said for life in general. This film captured me and filled me with a sense of....life. It did to me what American Beauty did in some ways. It is one of the best films to come out this year and it is steeped with rich and wonderful performances. This should go down in the annals of film as one of the best sports films ever made. And of course Will Smith is wonderful. I really think he will be looked upon differently in some circles after people see what he is capable of.
But more importantly, this film taught me something about sport, golf in particular, but sports in general. Even though Tiger has changed golf and there is a bit of swagger to it now with 5 million dollar purses and such, just take a minute sometime to take it all in. Golf really is different than anything else. In days when soccer fans are rabid enough to kill each other, hockey has people like Marty McSorley and one of the Niedermeyer boys head hunting with their sticks, football players celebrating voraciously and classlessly by slicing their throats with an imaginary knife, basketball players trash talking each other to the point of verboseness and the list can go on and on. Fans of these sports can become rabid with their cataclysmic fanaticism and yet you watch the gallery in golf and you get a perspective of what it is all about. When a golfer is about to take a shot, there is utter silence. No one wants to disrespect any player, whether his name is Tiger Woods or a guy that is just hoping to qualify for Q-school. You have fans that will not touch a golfer's ball when it goes out of bounds, they all understand the integrity of the sport. Then there are the players. They play side by side and wish each other well. They want to play the game to the best of their ability but not at the expense of someone's integrity. Player's respect one another, that can not be said in any other sport, not on the same level as golf. As Bagger Vance says in the film, "Golf is a game that can never be won, only played." Words to live by.
9 out of 10. This is one of the films to see this year. Look for it to get some well deserved notirity in March.