Hank: Ridley Scott made, in astonishing succession, four films that re-defined science-fiction. I’m talking about “Alien”; “Blade Runner”; the famous 1984 Apple ad; and the music video for Roxy Music’s “Avalon”- try proving Bryan Ferry isn’t an alien! The British director then tried to do the same for sci-fi’s fellow genre, fantasy. The result was 1985’s “Legend,” which is one amazing artifact, not least because it somehow doesn’t have as strong a hold on the imagination of nerds of a certain age as it should, even though it’s as good as “Labyrinth,” “The Dark Crystal,” “The Never Ending Story” and “The Last Unicorn.” It feels like even Ron Howard / George Lucas’ “Willow” is better remembered!
“Legend” is the ultimate fairy tale, wonder distilled to its primordial essence. There is a beautiful girl, Lili (Mia Sara, who helped Matthew Broderick get into so much trouble in “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”). Lili makes the not-so-original sin of touching a unicorn, and it is up to her friend, an impish young man named simply Jack, to rescue her from trouble. Jack is played by Tom Cruise, in a very early role. These days one needs to be reminded that Tom Cruise is a great actor that does more than abduct actresses into the temple of Xenuology with one tentacle and fend off gay rumors with the other, (has someone rumored to be gay ever done a better job of bedding so many of the world’s most beautiful women?)
“Legend” is not the place to go for the reminder. He’s truly terrible in it. Not terrible? Tim Curry, both unrecognizable and unforgettable as the Lord of Darkness that lures Lili under his horny shadow. Nothing in the Book of Revelations matches Curry’s iconic devilry.
Cousin Franz: I’m not going to be a lying “Pinnochio,” “Legend” ought to be greater than it is. It was too tonally discordant for the big screen: much too dark for the children, much too childish for the adults, too poetic for those who demand demon-killing, too badly written for those who demand actual poetry. Edmund Spenser it isn’t. It would have been a bigger hit a couple of years later, when VHS dropped down from its astronomical prices, but it was ahead of its time by a horn. Add to this some editorial “cut” problems that rival those of “Blade Runner”: do you I want to watch “Legend” with a Tangerine Dream soundtrack or a Jerry Goldsmith score? I place it side by side with Jacques Demy’s “Donkey Skin,” in that they both elicit all my good-will but I still can not get carried away by them. “Legend” is too broken to run at the proper speed, like a pretty unicorn with cancer of the hoof. I suspect that if it catches you in the right mood of acceptance, you might gaze at it with the awe of a kneeling wanderer who has glimpsed one such thirsty creature at a glimmering stream.
Beatricia: To clarify a point which this movie muddles, a legend is a subset of folklore that is not a myth or a fairy tale or a children’s story or a fable, although folks have been known to use these terms indiscriminately. A legend has some pretense at history but no actual historical back-up, (Moses, King Arthur, Robin Hood, Slenderman); a myth is a blatantly made-up story that attempts to explain the frequently supernatural basis of a universe, a country, a concept, a society, or a country (Uranus and Gaia, Adam and Eve, Romulus and Remus, “How The Wild West Was Won”). A fairy tale better have some damned fairies! Magical creatures of some sort, anyway. A fable is a subset of the fairy tale that uses archetypes, frequently of the animal kind, to illustrate a point. Anyway, this “Legend” is far more like a mythical allegory about Female Innocence, (Lili), Penile Innocence (our little Jack Dick boy) and a character called Darkness. But then it’s hard to imagine a big blockbuster called “Allegory.”
Trent: Oh, I saw those! “Allegory,” “Divergory,” “Insurgory,” the whole bunch! As for this “Legend,” Mia Sara was cute and all but then Ridley Scott ruined the magic by bringing some short odd-looking goat-boy that got me all Munchkin-triggered. I’m not even talking about Tom Cruise, I mean the other one. What is THAT? And how can I make it disappear into the realm of the Fay?
Grandpa Felicius: Ridley Scott’s “Legend” flims and flams from the elfin to the fantasmagorical, and it is beautiful to behold at points, but it is still a bore, story wise. A short tale stretched too long! I do hope it aims a few wise families in the direction of Andrew Lang’s Coloured Fairy Books!
Trent: Grandpa Felicius, you can’t say “coloured” anymore! It’s Fairies Of Color, (FOCs). Right, Tracey?
Tracey: Shush your green leprechaun mouth! I’m not that comfortable with the damsel-in-distress aspect of “Legend,” especially since adolescent Tom Cruise looks like he couldn’t rescue a tadpole from a puddle, but I would be lying if I didn’t mention that after I saw it, I spent a couple of months of my childhood looking for unicorns in our local rivulets. I didn’t find a unicorn but I did see a dead albino iguana with a gigantic horn one time. Really huge horn, not a joke, it was twice as big as the rest of the iguana! I guess that’s what comes from living downstream from the Polluplastics Inc. MaxiFactory. Cherry!
Blurbarella: “The Famous– Apple– Of Original Sin– Lures– The Gaze– of– Adults Who Demand– Made-Up– Female Innocence.– Fantasmagorical, Beautiful– Mouth– of the Iguana.”
4 out of 6 Cherries