|A Legend Indeed|
Upon searching through the long and windy halls of Netflix Watch Instantly one day, I came across this film with a premise that intrigued me. Two hours and five minutes later, speechless throughout most of the movie, I decided that it was not only one of the best dramas I had ever seen, but one of the best films I'd ever seen. Truly, The Legend is a 1900 is one of the most beautiful and moving films in modern film history, an overlooked classic, and a tribute to the Piano in every sense of the word.
Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon 1900 was found orphaned, most likely born to and forgotten by immigrant parents, aboard the Virginian a luxury steamliner much like the Titanic, by a steam room worker. He took in the child as his own and named him Danny Boodmann (After himself) T.D. Lemon (After the advertisement on the box he was found in) 1900 (After the year he was found in). He is a man without a birthday, he is a man without a country, he is a man born to The Virginian. 1900 proceeds to live out his childhood in the ship, learning about the world and the languages of the passengers until one day, the crew discovers he's a piano virtuoso, and soon after that, he becomes part of the ships orchestra, as word of his talent is spread by anybody that has ever heard him. Occasionally, the film also flashes forward to around 1945, where The Virginian is being prepped to be scrapped after World War 2, but with 1900 still aboard, and his friend Max's efforts to get him off.
Being the only English-language film of the Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore, the film is incredibly beautiful to look at. The striking beauty of the ship is one of the most stunning aspects, choosing to accent backdrops and provide a unique setting for the proceedings. The cinematography of the film is so well-done, as is with the rest of the film, I'm very disappointed that this was Tornatore's only English work, since his use of the language of the film is also very well done, considering most of the crew, including the screenwriters I believe, were Italian. But not only is the film striking as a whole, there's just so many memorable scenes in here that are simply brilliant in the way they are composed and played out. And what do all but two of these 7 or 8 scenes that stick out in my mind have in common? All of them involve the piano. I'm not a big fan of classical music by any means, but the instrumental works, and the way they're shown on screen is unequivocally magnificent. Composed mostly by Ennio Morricone, this is truly one of the aspects that makes the film stand out for me.
Tim Roth leads out the cast played by relative unknowns to my mind, and he gives the performance of a career. After watching this film, I came out with a great deal of respect for Roth as he displayed acting talent I didn't even know he was capable of. He sells every aspect of 1900 perfectly. Whether it's the humorous side of the character, the quite side, the peaceful side, the cursing side, the romantic side, or the speech-making side, Roth makes you invested in the character, as if the character development in the movie weren't enough. I don't know if Roth actually learned to play the piano for this movie, but he sold me on that too. Pruitt Taylor Vince also plays the character of Max well, and even though he isn't asked to do all that much, he did a fine job portraying his lifelong friendship with 1900.
I don't want to use the word "beautiful" too much in this review, but it aptly describes this movie. Some have called it epic, but it's only epic in its emotions. This movie will valiantly attempt to bring tears to your eyes, laughter, and everything in between. There's a particular scene where 1900 comes to accept his fate the only way he knows how, by playing the piano. But in this scene, there is no piano to play, so he plays air piano. But instead of cheesy, it's touching. There's no words needed to tell the audience the gravity of this scene and this moment, but you feel it. And that's what a movie should do. It should make you feel. It's only a couple hours long, but those couple of hours were all that I needed to be turned into an emotional wreak.
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