The golden shadows of the waning Old West are thrown across the big screen with full reverential treatment in this solid, unsurprising rendition of Jim Harrison's widely praised novella. Director Edward Zwick manages the requisite epic sweep, and most of the performances are on the
money, but LEGENDS OF THE FALL succeeded at the box office largely thanks to freshly-minted screen superstar Brad Pitt.
Colonel Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins), an ex-cavalry officer living in the Montana wilderness, is left to raise three sons by himself when his wife leaves for the winter and never returns. The oldest, Alfred (Aidan Quinn), is sensible, with a head for business and politics. Hotheaded Samuel (Henry
Thomas), the youngest, is always ready to subscribe to the latest political enthusiasm. The Colonel reserves a special fondness for the middle son, Tristan (Pitt). When Samuel returns from college with his fiancee, Susannah (Julia Ormond), all the men are smitten, stumbling over one another to
teach her how to ride, rope, and shoot. But the close-knit family soon disintegrates, sundered by romantic rivalry and the outbreak of WWI.
Although Zwick's grand, even monumental, presentation is reminiscent of his Civil War opus GLORY, the picture belongs to the golden-maned Pitt, who is afforded no less than three princely entrances on horseback. A performer with more charisma than intelligence, he nevertheless easily dominates
the ensemble and, with a big assist from Oscar-winning cinematographer John Toll, sometimes casts such a saintly, beatific sheen over the proceedings that he seems to glow from within. Newcomer Julia Ormond hits her mark as the sort of storybook British beauty for whom civilizations topple. leave a comment