The Legend of 1900

"Very Good"

The Legend of 1900 Review


Director Giuseppe Tornatore has a knack for weaving a magical story. Cinema Paradiso firmly established him as a tour de force filmmaker with its Academy Award successes in 1988. His latest feature, The Legend of 1900, is another intriguing tale, which blends a compelling fictional character with an exhilarating epoch of American history.

The Legend of 1900 is the story of a boy's journey to manhood, never having stepped foot on dry land. Abandoned on an ocean liner and named for the year in which he was born, 1900 (Tim Roth - Hoodlum, Reservoir Dogs) grows up within the confines of the trans-Atlantic steamer Virginia. His prodigious talent for piano is discovered at a young age and 1900 spends his days entertaining passengers from all over the world one boatload after another. As he gets older his reputation proliferates to the point that 1900 would be a rich man if he were ever willing to part with his life aboard the ship. However, despite prodding from his friend Max (Pruitt Taylor Vince - Dr. Dolittle, The End of Violence) and others, he is content to remain a fixture at sea. What will come of 1900 as the war approaches and the waves of immigrants recede? Will he move on, or stay forever in the confines of his ship?

The best part of the film is its incredible score. Composed by Ennio Morricone (The Untouchables, Bulworth), the music is a wonderful blend of jazz and ragtime that captures the sounds and feel of 1900's mysterious talents. Roth's jagged facial features are perfect because we get a lot of close-ups of him at the piano in deep thought sweating or crying. Roth effectively captures the complexities 1900's strange satisfaction with his unique interpretation of the world as a sea dweller.

Also worthy of note are costume designer Maurizio Millenotti and Director of Photography Lajos Koltai. The look and feel of the film takes fashion from the height of the roaring twenties and combines it with a soft blend of lighting and tone, which stylishly establishes the film's somber mood.

Despite the plot's intrigue, some of the elements of 1900's life that the film left untouched take away from its effectiveness. The plot needed more insight into 1900's character and less time on drawn out musical sequences with elaborate pan shots. Two hours left me with several unanswered questions: Why do we only get a glimpse at his human frailties towards the opposite sex? And how does he develop the strong British accent when a foul-mouthed and rugged ship worker raised him for eight years? The film could have delivered a better product with more insight into its main characters..

While The Legend of 1900 is far from perfect, it is extremely entertaining and worth seeing, if just for the duel of pianists between Jelly Roll Morton (Clarence Williams III - The General's Daughter), the supposed "inventor of jazz," and 1900. The three round duel sizzles between the two incredibly talented musicians and is a lot more decisive than a Lewis-Holyfield bout.

Aka La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano.

Roth sprouts his sea legs.



The Legend of 1900

Facts and Figures

Run time: 165 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 28th October 1998

Budget: $9M

Distributed by: Fine Line Features

Production compaines: Sciarlò, Medusa Produzione

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 54%
Fresh: 19 Rotten: 16

IMDB: 8.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Starring: as Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon Nineteen Hundred '1900', as Max Tooney, as das Mädchen, as Danny Boodmann, as Farmer

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