I had expressly housed this desire to watch the Edward Zwick directorial since my reading on cinema informed me of its merits ; as I have shared my side of the tale in a previous post, it turned out to be a memorable experience in terms of its old world charm and simplicity befitting its early 20th century setting in an intimate, emotionally fraught epoch. It harked back to the culturally resonant style of classic epics and judging by its favorable reputation it’s easy to see why even after the passage of 24 long years, it holds a special place in the hearts of cinephiles. You know a work has outlasted its runtime when the images linger unpredictably in the mind, scenes are recreated within that mental frame and the aftertaste is one of permanence .
LEGENDS OF THE FALL did that for me also since its episodic structure made it clear it was based on a written work; in this case it’s the novella of the same name by Jim Harrison. Now in my personal capacity I point out certain brief bullet points that mark out its clear, distinctive strengths. That will divide my emotional takeaways from the cinematic work neatly and make them specific. So here I am, writing about this handsomely mounted picture with a cast to embrace like one’s own.
To make things simpler for the uninitiated, this film traces the crests and troughs of the Ludlow men – father and three sons – as they evolve in the wake of events like World War 1, the death of the youngest son on the front, brittle physical alliances and the emotional price of falling in love at a time when the home and the world is alighted by forces beyond their control. Blood relations run thicker here but with repercussions through time and place, distances, loyalties tested by outside interferences and this clash between romanticising the natural world and rough moral fibres that bind people together; especially when history and tenuous lines of relationships change over the course of a decade in the screenplay.
** in the next post, salient features of the film will make way that I reckon to be its enduring strengths. This was a proper curtain raiser.