Legends of the Fall (1994) Movie Review: A Romantic Western War Epic

By: Alex Phuong (Two Beers) –

Jim Harrison wrote a novel that inspired Edward Zwick to direct one of the most celebrated films of 1994. That film adaptation is none other than Legends of the Fall. Starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, this film received recognition from both the Hollywood Foreign Press and the Academy. The awards that this film acquired were relatively few, but Zwick’s passion project lights up the screen after spending 17 years in development. The final result exhibits passion amidst the chaos of World War I.

A Toast

This film features beautiful production design, Oscar-winning cinematography, and a complex love story. There is definitely a lot of chemistry between Tristan Ludlow (Brad Pitt), his brother Alfred Ludlow (Aidan Quinn), and Susannah, played by Julia Ormond. This film might not be as glamorous as other films that Edward Zwick collaborated on, such as Shakespeare in Love, but his love for the subject matter definitely shows up on screen.

Beer Two

Even with such passion, the film is actually quite graphic. There are intense battle scenes, some gore, and even a frightening grizzly bear. The bear actually had its own name, and he is labelled as “Bart the Bear” in the ending credits. This film is definitely for mature audiences given the themes and relationships explored in this complicated tale of betrayal, family, and war.

Verdict

Legends of the Fall might have left the Golden Globes empty-handed, and it might have only won one Academy Award in a technical category, but this is still a beautiful adaptation of Jim Harrison’s novel. It took Edward Zwick nearly two decades to make this film, and his efforts really did pay off. It also features Brad Pitt as Tristan, the complicated hero who has to deal with both his family and forbidden love. This film is definitely filled with passion and desire in terms of both the making of it, and what audiences actually see as they watch a dramatic story unfold.

Legends of the Fall (1994) Drinking Game

Take a Drink: during every violent moment

Take a Drink: during every passionate moment

Drink a Shot: whenever the animals become stars in their own right, such as the galloping horses and the appearances of “Bart the Bear.”

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