Cineram: Legend

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama


By Mike Derderian

And the world came to a halt

When the woman with the fault,
Decided to open the marble vault.
Unleashing the malign gift with a wanton lift,
Of a reckless hand.
Alas, it is too late.
For malice, disease and suffering have fled,
The vault;
And she wouldn’t have guessed the ill fate,
she; the sinner to the world has brought.
Alas it is too late.
But wait:
A voice so gentle from the bottom of the vault

‘I am hope let me out;
So that the Gods would never laugh and gloat.’

‘Can’t you hear the pain?’
The hammer hit the nail,
The stone it penetrated.
Blood was spelt,
The Earth it infiltrated,
And a lamb in dread,

Silently wept.
For all is lost

And Prometheus is forever bound,
Naked, starved and bleeding he yelled out

‘I am left forever out.’

The sin of man was and will always be curiosity—we all heard of what happened to the poor old cat. Do we ever learn! The cat was run over by a reckless Jordanian driver, this was the true story behind the idiom ‘Curiosity Killed the Cat’.

There was a media cover-up, guess you never knew that.

The sin of a bard contrary to that of the ordinary man is writing poetry and searching for answers to universal questions nobody except he can answer. A week ago I was fortunate enough to find a book of selected poems by William Blake and more than ever I am positive the man used a seraph’s wing feather to write his poetry or so the legend says. In my case, I used a ballpoint pen to write the above poem.

What are legends but writings of people like you and me? A poet writes poetry using his blood for ink. An ordinary man writes with chalk because it is much cheaper and less painful. My hunger for words increases every time I watch one my favorite movies; words that I stuff in this little corner I call my world.

This week my world revolved around myths and Ridley Scott’s 1985 Legend didn’t make it any easier for me to snap back into reality. A practice more and more I find tedious. Why be normal when you can be different.

Legend is an 84-minute not-for-kids-fairy-tale that had all the right elements yet it failed to rise to one’s expectations. Why? Extravagant sets; a haunting musical score; colorful characters; undeniably state of the art makeup-in a time Computer Animated Images

(CGI) did not exist-and a talented cast of actors spearheaded by Hollywood newcomer Tom Cruise. It wasn’t his best performance but he certainly gave it a shot-filled from the finest dwarf wine cellars.

The film also stars Mia Sara, David Bennent, Alice Playton, Billy Barty, Cork Hubbert, Peter O’Farrell, Kiran Shah, Annabelle Lanyon, Robert Picardo and Tim Curry as the Lord of Darkness, a Satan-like figure with a bad case of suntan.

You have to watch it, because it is simply magical. Scott brilliantly takes us to an enchanted place with no name in this short-lived magical movie that solidified his brewing reputation as the master of visuals.

Although it had bad editing—the continuity in the film’s footage and music appear a bit out of place—the storyline was perfect and quite original.

Jack (a very young Cruise) is a forest boy, who is infatuated with Lily (Sara), a human princess. In order to impress her he takes her to the place where two sacred unicorns come to express love and joy.

A forbidden act that he has to amend after one of the unicorns is lured by the innocence and charm of Lily and ravaged by three goblins seeking its magical horn. Their orders came from Darkness (Curry), whose purpose is to spread gloom all over the world by sacrificing the two unicorns and their horns to evil.

“There may never be another dawn,” proclaimed the hooved and foul creature in an ominous voice. Curry’s voice over for the creature was quite impressive knowing his Shakespearian stage performance history.

Another worth remembering character is Oona (Lanyon), an appealing fairy that becomes enamored with Jack but her affection never evolves beyond a brief screen outburst when she realizes he yearns only for Lily’s love.

“What care I for human hearts? Soft and spiritless as porridge! A fairy’s heart beats fierce and free!” cries out the broken hearted sprite.

David Bennent, who played the lead role in Gunther Grass’ Tin Drum, gave an admirable if not outstanding performance as the feisty Honeythorn Gump, who assists Jack on his quest to save his princess and unicorn from the clutches of Darkness.

Legend provides a magical dwelling for elves; goblins; brownies leprechauns; demons; forest spirits and humans. Of course it would be totally unfair to compare it to the magical scenes found in the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings movies.

There is a childish feel to it despite of its dark and grim content. At some point the dialogue turned loose and didn’t add much meaning, value or sense to its atmosphere.

One more thing, what the hell happened to Blix, whose face according to Playten was made after Keith Richards’ of the Rolling Stones? The goblin “whose heart is black as midnight, Black as pitch and blacker than the foulest witch” simply vanished into thin air.

Here is a piece of information to dig your teeth in: Blix’s hideous face, “the most loathsome” among Darkness’ goblins, wasn’t the last time Richards inspired Hollywood characters. Richard’s guise and appearance was the model upon which Johnny Depp modeled the Captain Jack Sparrow persona in the 2003 summer hit Pirates of the Caribbean.

Must-see-scenes: Lily’s dance sequence with the dancing gown; Brown Tom (Hubbert) frying pan tennis and arrows match with the goblins, and Meg Mucklbones’s and Jack’s unpleasant encounter at the swamp leading to Darkness’ castle.


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