Arrow Video brings Ridley Scott’s dark fairy tale Legend to home video in a massive new edition with a new transfers and extras both archival and new.
The biggest issue with the theatrical cut of the film is that everything in it is inherently designed to be modern; the editing, the music, the pace, the acting. This modernist approach ends up being the stalest and stagnate piece of ‘hero’s journey’ flash and bang. Yes, there are pieces within the sound and fury of what was concocted that work but not equal to the sum of its parts. Everything is flattened in this cut of the film. Jack (Tom Cruise) and Lili (Mia Sara) are cardboard flimsy archetypes that barely register any sort of character. Darkness (Tim Curry) is literally there to mug and his basic motivations for everything is akin to a jock in a high school film; I want to destroy pretty things and bag the hot chick.
The most fascinating aspect of the film is the lengths Ridley Scott went to appease a studio with a fairly large chunk of money invested into this project. It does reveal the commerce part of a director’s job and shows just how adept Scott was at navigating this painful process. It also indicates why at 80-years-old Scott is still directing big-budget studio product (his newest film is set to debut a month from this review’s writing). Though it does not help the film in any way in this form. The film has been stripped of all of its heft, style, and artistry and is only left with what is essentially a 90-minute-long music video for Tangerine Dream (whose score is not as great as their other work).
The reconstruction of Ridley Scott’s original intention (or close to it) is exactly what you expect from a dark fairy tale from the director of Alien. Somehow by allowing the film to breathe at an extended length, the editing relaxed, the more traditional score by Jerry Goldsmith (in place of Tangerine Dream) the film takes on a more modern and timeless feel. The film feels less disjointed and abbreviated than the theatrical version.
The director’s edition changes are so far and vast that it’s hard, to sum up in a review. The feel of the film is one that is more complex, darker, and vastly more sexualized than the theatrical cut. Jack and Lili benefit greatly from this new version. The way that their dynamic works with a huge added element of burgeoning sexuality and classism taking a hold that creates a much richer experience. Lili has begun to understand her power as not only a princess but as a sexual being. Her scenes with Jack mirror those she has with Darkness. She tests and pokes and prods him to do her bidding.
Jack’s hero’s journey is filled a bit more, but Scott understands that this isn’t the meat of the story. In fact, in the director’s edition, this becomes Lili’s story through and through. Everything that happens in this version is by Lili’s actions and not something that can be forgiven. Lili is a fully realized young woman with faults, emotions, complexities, along with the usual strength and intelligence.
It is rare for a film to allow its heroine to go as deeply into the darkest recesses of a fairy tale without much consequence. It makes Legend still feel very modern thirty-five years later. Mia Sara takes all of the interesting shadows of Lili and runs with them. Part of the reason that Tim Curry’s Darkness works is because Sara is an engaged partner for him. The conviction Sara brings to her moments with Curry should be studied by any actor that is having to work with effects.
The way that there is actual sexual chemistry between Lili and Darkness is one of the most fascinating aspects of the film. Often people champion both Curry and FX Designer Rob Bottin for the work on Darkness, as they should, but forget that without Sara’s performance as Lili, Darkness is nothing but a beautiful nightmare of a design.
Even the aforementioned design work is allowed to be relished in this longer version. Not just the Makeup FX work but production design by Assheton Gorton and the cinematography by Alex Thompson which feels is flashed but never seen in the theatrical is showcased here. Thompson’s work here is the cinematographer’s best with his lighting and a keen eye for composition and movement makes this stage-bound film feel like it was filmed in someplace not imagined. Gorton’s work is made all the more impressive when one realizes that his first iteration of the set was tragically burnt to the ground.
Legend in this form is more in line with its director’s filmography and the preferred viewing experience.
If you’re wondering why there’s no UHD release of the film, like this reviewer did, you can read about it all right here.
That said the New 2K restoration of the US Theatrical Cut from original materials including a 4K scan of the original negative looks wonderful. The film’s image has always had a diffuse look and here is no different. That was the intent. That said it’s a wonderful crisp image that has no imperfections and is razor-sharp. The image leans toward a warmer color palette that comes off beautifully on Blu-Ray.
The Transfer of the Director’s Edition appears to be the same one from the Universal 2011 Blu-Ray release. This version appears to benefit from software and hardware update during the decade since its release. The deficits are still very present because of the origins of the director’s edition (which you can read about in the beautifully bound book included in this release).
They include the following;
DISC ONE: US THEATRICAL CUT
- New commentary by Paul M. Sammon author of Ridley Scott: The Making of His Movies
- Reconstructed isolated score by Tangerine Dream
- Isolated music and effects track
- A Fairytale in Pinewood
- Incarnations of a Legend
- The Music of Legend
- The Creatures of Legend
- Remembering a Legend
- The Directors: Ridley Scott, 2003 documentary where the director discusses his career, including Legend
- Television Version Opening
- “Is Your Love Strong Enough?” music video by Bryan Ferry
DISC TWO: DIRECTOR’S CUT
- Commentary by Ridley Scott
- Creating A Myth: Memories of Legend
- Original promotional featurette
- Alternate ‘Four Goblins’ opening and ‘The Fairie Dance’ deleted scene
- Storyboard galleries
- Two drafts of William Hjortsberg’s screenplay
- Alternate footage
- Trailers and TV spots
- Still galleries
The newly recorded commentary by Paul M. Sammon. Beginning with his writings on Legend in his Book Close Up. Some of the details include the various versions that have been released into the world, how Scott cut the film himself in the various versions, the work both in make and the application of the very impressive make-up FX work of Tim Curry, the work of make-up FX designer Rob Bottin, the various artist that Scott referenced in the preproduction of the film, the disaster that occurred at Pinewood studios and how it effected production and specific scenes, the various supporting cast members most who were in heavy make-up prosthetics, the work of Bottin in this film and others, the fantasy genre in the 1980s and up until the release of the film, Legend’s initial release and its rise as a cult film, the work of Jerry Goldsmith score in other versions, the work of Tangerine Dream score in the theatrical, Ridley Scott as a director and a person outside the director’s chair, the first test screening and Ridley Scott’s comment’s about what exactly happened, Tom Cruise doing his own stunts and a funny anecdote about his stunt work here, the work of Stunt Coordinator Vic Armstrong, and much more. Sammon does a great job of discussing the various versions during the course of the film and how they differ from the theatrical cut. Much like his commentary track for Arrow Video’s Dune, Sammon’s track is deeply researched and highly informative.
Reconstructed isolated score by Tangerine Dream (89:29) – this archival alternate track from 2002 runs over the course of the film and represents Tangerine Dream’s FULL SCORE with full musical cues. It is stated before you begin the track that it will oftentimes not sync up with the scene because of these extended compositions.
Isolated music and effects track (89:29) – this track contains not only Tangerine Dream but some Jerry Goldsmith score as well. As the Arrow Video disc explained that this was pulled from a track to allow other countries’ distributors to create an alternate language cut of the film.
Remembering a Legend (30:45) – is an all-new featurette discussing the making of Legend. This is a look at the ground-level of the production with the behind-the-scenes crew discussing the in’s and out’s of various aspects of making a fantasy film like costuming, hair, make-up, and other pieces of the production rarely discussed. Some of the details include how everyone was brought onto the project, working with Ridley Scott on the production, the casting Tom Cruise and working with him on the production, working with Tim Curry and the make-up application, the building of the massive forest set at Pinewood Studios, the ensuing fire that occurred on that stage, the solutions that were created by the crew, and much more. Featuring comments by grip David Cadwalladr, costume designer Charles Knode, actor Annabelle Lanyon, camera operator Peter MacDonald, set decorator Ann Mollo and draftsman John Ralph. The documentary does include some great behind-the-scene photographs.
The Music of Legend – in this all-new two-part featurette the two different scores are discussed. Including comments by score experts Jeff Bond and Daniel Schweiger, and Electric Youth bandmates Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin.
- Part One: Jerry Goldsmith (15:12) – Some of the details include Goldsmith’s feelings on working with Scott on Alien, the work on the film, how the editing and musical editing (even in the director’s edition) destroys Goldsmith’s compositions in full (they also discuss his score for the film Blue Max as another example of the compromise), after Goldsmith left the project there were sections that they decided to score and how editor Terry Rawlings resolved that, and much more. There is some great video b-roll footage of the infamous “dance” scene rehearsal that Goldsmith worked on early.
- Part Two: Tangerine Dream. (13:09) – Some of the details include Tangerine Dream’s rise as composers beginning with Sorcerer and how Risky Business helped Universal decide to go with the band, how their composition differs from Goldsmith, how their synth designed compositions rub against what many know as a Fantasy film, how the unicorn theme is composed and created, how some of the score is achieved using synthesizers which wouldn’t have been possible with a traditional score at the time, the way they achieved the score for Darkness, Tangerine Dream brings on Bryan Ferry and the lead singer of Yes, and much more.
The Creatures of Legend – in this all-new two-part featurette the make-up effects work is discussed in detail both in design, development, and execution. Including comments by Illustrator Martin A Kline and make-up effects artist Nick Dudman.
- Part One: Inside. The Illustrations (10:28) – some of the details include how illustrators were hired, the process in designing for the production, how the creatures were designed with make-up prosthetics, and more. This featurette includes some truly great shots of the sketches, behind the scene photos of the make-up tests, and more.
- Part Two: Inside The Make-up Effects (16:15) – some of the details include how they were hired for the production, how they created appliances in the US and shipped to London, the practical issues of working with costumes and make-up, Ridley Scott’s contribution, working with Tim Curry and what it took to apply the Darkness make-up on the actor, the hours it took to put on the make-up, the solution to get Curry out of the make-up appliances off, the difficulty in creating the unicorn horn, the challenges of creating the make-up appliances for Meg Mucklebones, and more. This featurette also includes some great behind-the-scenes b-roll video footage, behind-the-scenes photos, behind-the-scenes photos of the make-up and test, and more.
Incarnations of a Legend (20:47) – is an all-new visual essay written and narrated by Travis Crawford about the various versions of Legend. Crawford leaves no stone unturned in the explanation of the variations of the film released and why they came to be. Some of the details include how Scott had many alt versions of his film, the 10 of his films have been given the director and alternate cuts from Scott, the fantasy film genre at the time in the 1980s (including a little joke about Clash of the Titans), the release of the film in the various territories and how this connected to the changes, the reviews of the film, the fact that Fox and Universal shared release (which contributed), and more. There is a great use of split-screen examples of scenes to help understand the various versions.
The Directors: Ridley Scott (58:33) – this documentary from 2003 from the TV series The Directors focuses on Ridley Scott’s career up until that point.
Television Version Opening (1:26) – an added voiceover for the television cut of the film.
Music Video: Is Your Love Strong Enough? (5:23)
The archival commentary by director Ridley Scott is as great as all of the director’s commentary. Like his other commentary the director essentially gives a master class. Opening with his love of Coteau’s Beauty and the Beast and a screening of his own personal print of it with writer William Hjortsberg. Some of the details include the actual build of the massive sets and how he came to the decision of making this film set bound rather than on location, the troubles with that set building, development of the script, the visuals, editing, the issues in post-production and how he navigated those, the differences in the original script the rewritten script the first cut the final theatrical and now the director’s cut, working with Rob Bottin, Jerry Goldsmith’s score, the casting of Tom Cruise and what it was like to work with him at an early part of his career, the influence of early Disney animated features especially Fantasia, the casting of Mia Sara, working and casting David Bennent of Tin Drum fame, the paring down of the script and specifically deleted action scenes, the art direction and production design of the film, an unused concept of Lili turning into a Cat as she is tempted by Darkness, Scott’s theory on texture and how to achieve it, the end of the film and so much more. If you haven’t heard this track and are a Scott fan or a fan of this film, do yourself a favor and listen to it.
Creating A Myth: Memories of Legend (51:03) – is a making-of documentary from the 2000 DVD release. This is a slick and informative making-of directed by Charles de Lauzirika during the heyday of great bonus features. The featurette is divided into development, preproduction, production, postproduction and release, and critical reception. Featuring comments by director Ridley Scott, producer Arnon Milchan, screenwriter William Hjortsberg, actor Mia Sara, actor Tim Curry, make-up FX supervisor Rob Bottin, editor Terry Rawlings, production designer Assheton Gorton and more.
Original promotional featurette (9:44) – this original production featurette from 1985 is an utter delight to watch. Arrow Video states at the beginning that this was sourced from a VHS duplicate copy and has all of the troubles inherent in the format. Which only adds to the charm of this vintage EPK. There’s a bunch of great fly-on-the-wall b-roll footage here including some great moments with off-camera moments with Curry in Darkness outfit, Scott directing, and a notably absent Tom Cruise.
Lost Scenes – Two scenes are presented here both items are sourced from a VHS Dub that was discovered in 2001.
Alternate Opening: Four Goblins (10:35) – a completely new opening with a different beginning with the demons having chase a spectral of light.
The Fairie Dance (3:06) – the oft-discussed fairie dance scene which is not here, it is still considered lost, but recreated based on Terry Rawlings’ finding the audio from the scene.
Storyboards – is divided into 8 sections. Each comes with its own written introduction setting up context not only for the story but also why and who created these storyboards. This section is navigated using your chapter stops buttons on your remote. Note rather than a run time the number denotes the number of stills in the gallery.
- Intro/Three Goblins (113)
- Lili and the Unicorns (96)
- Mortal World Turned to Ice (100)
- Jack and the Fairies (165)
- Find the Mare, Lose the Alicorn (114)
- Jack’s Challenge (225)
- Meg Mucklebones and the Great Tree (88)
- Downfall of Darkness (100)
Alternate footage (9:00) – is from the overseas release that was placed in the overseas versions to make up for footage removed from the director’s cut.
Screenplay Drafts – two versions of the screenplay written by William Hjortsberg have been included here the first draft and final shooting script. The scripts can be navigated by using the chapter stop buttons on your remote.
Trailers and TV spots
- US Theatrical Trailer 1 (1:24) – more of a teaser
- US Theatrical Trailer 1 (1:13) – again a teaser rather than a trailer
- International Trailer (1:52) – more of a traditional trailer
- US TV Spots (2:11) – Four 30-second spots for the film
Still galleries – divided up into three sections
- Production Stills – 78 black and white stills from the production, are more artful than most production stills, but one would expect nothing less from Ridley Scott. You can navigate the gallery by using the chapter stop buttons on your remote.
- Continuity Polaroids – 72 polaroid images taken by the script supervisor are actually some great candid moments. You can navigate the gallery by using the chapter stop buttons on your remote.
- Poster & Video Art – 30 various posters and home video covers throughout the years. You can navigate the gallery by using the chapter stop buttons on your remote.
The Final Thought
Legend in its director’s edition form has been one of Ridley Scott’s great films, Arrow has given it a new paint of coat with this massive deluxe edition. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATIONS!!!