(This article originally appeared in Video Watchdog Magazine #29 in 1995. I should note that what I have posted here is the original version of the article as I sent it to Video Watchdog. Tim Lucas, the editor of VW, made some minor changes and polishes before publishing the article in VW, all of which I liked and appreciated. Except for two or three minor changes, I have not gone through the original and printed articles to pick out all of the changes and fix them here.
If you would like to see the Shot-By-Shot breakdowns I did for each version of the film for this article, check out these pages : American Shot-By-Shot, European Shot-By-Shot, Television Shot-By-Shot, and Director's Cut Shot-By-Shot.
1986, MCA Home Video #40193, CX, 89m
1985, Warner Home Video, #NJL-38528, (Japan) D/S, 89m 48s
1985, French Widescreen Version, 90m 47s (SECAM) = 94m 39s (NTSC)
Television Version, 94m 40s
LEGEND, directed by Ridley Scott, was originally released in Europe in 1985 with the Jerry Goldsmith score and a reported running time of 94 minutes. The film was eventually released in the United States in 1986 with a running time of 89 minutes after several delays involving extensive recutting of the film and the replacement of the original Goldsmith score with a new one by Tangerine Dream. The changes to the film, which involved streamlining the story to make it simpler for American audiences and emphasizing the action elements, seem to have done little in terms of box office returns. The film was panned by critics, ignored by audiences, and neither version seems to have been exactly what the director originally wanted.
Ridley Scott, who had previously made THE DUELLISTS (1977), ALIEN (1979) and BLADE RUNNER (1982), wanted to make a fairy tale film to which his children could go. He decided early on not to rehash other traditional stories and myths but to create his own fairy tale with an American writer named William Hjortsberg. LEGEND was born of this collaboration and principal shooting began on March 26th, 1984. "Scott's first cut of LEGEND was 125 minutes long, which he felt dwelt unnecessarily on minor plot points. The next cut was 113 minutes long, which was test marketed in Orange County and was considered perfect. Perfect that is for an audience who didn't mind working at being entertained. So another two reels were removed, totaling 20 minutes."(1)
Watching the American Version of LEGEND is a confusing experience, although the imagery and scenery are beautiful, and this is probably part of the reason why the film has become a cult movie on the Internet. People, like myself, watch the film and like it not for what it is but for what it obviously had been at one time. After a little research these feelings are partially vindicated when viewing the European version since this film is closer to Scott's original vision than the American Version.
To make life easier, the sources for the comparison in this article will be abbreviated : the American Version (AV), the European Version (EV), the French Widescreen Version (FWV), the Television Version (TV), the Original Soundtrack Recording - LEGEND - The Jerry Goldsmith Score (Goldsmith CD), and the script for LEGEND dated March 10, 1984. The March 10 script is not the final shooting script and no other script closer to the actual production date could be obtained.
The storyline of LEGEND has all the basic ingredients of a fairy tale : a villain, a woman in peril and the making of a hero from a normal man. Scott wanted his characters to have more depth than typically found in a fairy tale and some of this can be found in the EV. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the American cut of the film since it was altered to fall within the confines of a normal fairy tale. The AV of LEGEND opens with a prologue of scrolling text that introduces the audience to the world and characters of LEGEND (No such prologue is found in the EV). The Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry) wants to kill the light-bringing Unicorns and throw the world into eternal night so that he may rule forever. Lili (Mia Sara) is an innocent girl (a princess in the EV) who goes to the forest to see her lover (potential lover in the EV) Jack (Tom Cruise) who lives there. Jack takes her to see the Unicorns, and Darkness's minions, Blix (Alice Playten), Pox (Peter O'Farrell), and Blunder (Kiran Shah) are able to poison one Unicorn as Lili unwittingly distracts it with her aura of innocence (it is her singing that distracts the Unicorns in the EV). Not knowing what has happened, Jack and Lili talk in the forest and Lili promises to marry Jack if he can find her ring, which she throws into a stream. At the same time the goblins catch up with the poisoned Unicorn and cut off its horn, which is known as the Alicorn. Instantly the world is thrown into winter. Jack is found by Gump (David Bennent), Brown Tom (Cork Hubbert), Screwball (Billy Barty) and Oona (Annabelle Lanyon), a group of fairies who help him in his quest to get the Alicorn back. Lili and the second Unicorn are captured by Blix, Pox, and Blunder and it is up to Jack and the fairies to save her and the Unicorn. Jack must first prove himself by fighting a water hag named Meg Mucklebones (Robert Picardo), then devise a plan to defeat Darkness, fight the cooks in the kitchen and finally put his plan of reflecting light down into the dungeons into action. Even though Darkness is apparently defeated at the end, the Unicorns saved, and Lili and Jack run out of the woods together after he retrieves her ring, Darkness appears as the final shot of the AV laughing, forever undefeatable (Darkness is not seen at the end of the EV).
Differences between the European and American Versions
After watching the different versions of LEGEND and reading the script, you begin to feel that if the film had been released in it's 125 minute version, or maybe even it's 113 minute version, that it might have done better at the box office. As it now stands, the film is beginning to pick up a cult following on the Internet with the creation of a LEGEND FAQ (Frequently Asked Question document) compiled by Tony Anderson. With four verified versions of the film out there (including the French Widescreen) and at least seven other reported running times, it is understandable that people are beginning to question what happened to the film. The best place to start is with the different versions of the film.
The AV is for an audience that likes and/or needs to be spoon fed a lifeless and nonsensical fairy tale while the EV is willing to let the story unfold and allow the audience to think for itself. Scott, under extreme studio pressure at the time, explained the need for two versions of the film like this, "European audiences are more sophisticated...They accept preambles and subtleties whereas the U.S. goes for a more broader stroke...The American cut of LEGEND is much simpler... Darkness' entrance will be moved up to stop the audience from getting restless. Structurally I prefer holding him back as in the European print."(2)
With a few exceptions that will be noted later, the EV is a more faithful adaption of the March 10 script. The focus of the AV is on the love between Jack and Lili and the action elements of the story with Jack as the sole hero of the film. Many scenes found in the March 10 script that give more life to the characters while explaining their actions have been sacrificed along the way in the AV for a more streamlined, typical fairy tale. The focus of the EV is on the story of what has happened to the world, (i.e. its becoming entombed in snow and ice) and with Jack attempting to become a hero while saving the Unicorns as well as Lili. This assessment of the EV holds up until the end of the film when the scenes of the reattachment of the Alicorn (as seen in the AV) are dispensed with in order to focus on Jack and Lili's reunion. It seems that only a longer Director's cut could bring these different elements together into one coherent film.
The TV is the same print as the AV with three exceptions : The opening prologue is accompanied by a voice over from an unidentified source; the first scene with Gump and the fairies is longer; and the scene with Meg Mucklebones is longer. This is noteworthy because the source film for these extra scenes seem to be from a work print with the Goldsmith score. A Universal Spokesman stated that whenever footage is added for television versions of a film the director has a hand in the process. The spokesman was unsure if this had been the case with Ridley Scott and LEGEND but went on to reiterate what he had said earlier. The FWV is the exact same print as the EV except that it is letterboxed and this version will be dealt with later in the article.
The differences between the AV and EV start at the very beginning of the film with an unnecessary prologue that explains the story (0:56 on Side 1 of AV).
Once long ago, before there was such
a thing as time, the world was shrouded
Then came the splendor of light,
bringing life and love into the universe,
and the Lord of Darkness retreated deep
into the shadows of the earth, plotting
his return to power...by banishing light
But precious light is protected,
harbored in the souls of unicorns, the
most mystical of all creatures.
Unicorns are safe from the Lord of
Darkness, they can only be found by
the purest of mortals... Such a mortal
is Jack, who lives in solitude with the
animals of the forest.
A beautiful girl named Lili loves Jack
with all her heart. In their innocence, they
believe only goodness exists in the world.
Together they will learn there can be
no good without evil...no love without
hate...no heaven without hell...no light
The harmony of the universe
depends upon an eternal balance. Out
of the struggle to maintain this balance
comes the birth of Legends.
The prologue is not found in the March 10 script and seems to have been tacked on out of fear that the audience wouldn't understand the truncated version of the film that followed it. This fear was well founded since the AV is a mess, with characters you don't particularly care about and a story that moves quickly so that you won't realize how little sense it makes. The film, in it's original script form, explained everything as the story unfolded making a prologue unnecessary and this will be examined below. The prologue has an unidentified voice-over reading it in the TV and is totally absent from the EV. The EV instead begins with the shot of the forest, the bee hive, and the bear that fall after the prologue in the AV (2:12 on Side 1 of AV).
After the prologue and credits, the film moves from a shot of Blix to the exterior of the Great Tree, which is the home of Darkness. A tiny light is seen in the center of the Great Tree and the film cuts from this long shot to a shot of the kitchen with a large fire and the cooks preparing a grisly meal of chopped man (4:02 on Side 1 of AV). When Darkness is shown in his chair it seems as if he is sitting in the kitchen with the flames appearing behind him. Besides the fact that Darkness's stunning appearance through the mirror later in the film (6:09 on Side 2 of AV) is destroyed by seeing him here, the editing infers that Darkness is in the kitchen and this doesn't make any sense since he and Blix are alone in the next scene. From his conversation with Blix we have to deduce that Darkness is not in the kitchen but in a room somewhere in the Great Tree contemplating his existence. The EV makes a much more satisfying transition from the long shot of the Great Tree to an open window that looks out on the stars (2:24 on Side 1 of EV). With this transition we are satisfactorily placed in Darkness's room and his appearance is kept a mystery so that his entrance later in the film is that much more awe inspiring (15:06 on Side 2 of EV). Darkness's absence in the EV is covered by focusing on the window opening and with close-ups of Blix.
Darkness sets the tone for his character differently in the opening speech he makes before Blix arrives in the AV and EV.
"Mother night, fold your dark arms about me. Protect me in your black embrace. I sit alone, an impotent exile whilst this force, this presence, returns to torment me." (4:42 on Side 1 of AV)
"I am the Lord of Darkness. I require the solace of the shadows and the dark of the night. Sunshine is my destroyer. All this shall change. Tonight the sun sets forever. There shall never be another dawn." (2:19 on Side 1 of EV)
The speech in the AV leads us to believe that Darkness is a weak character in the "presence" of the Unicorns and therefore someone to be looked down upon as inferior whereas the speech in the EV shows a strong Darkness who is plotting to bring permanent night to the world by destroying the Unicorns. Also of note is the fact that in both the AV and EV Darkness calls upon his Father when he needs help to seduce Lili or to be saved at the end of the film and yet no other mention of "Mother Night" is ever made in either version except in Darkness's speech in the AV. These speeches and this first introduction to Darkness and Blix are not found in the March 10 script; in fact, a totally different beginning is found there.
The beginning found in the March 10 script opens with a fourth goblin named Tic who, along with Blix, Pox, and Blunder, chase after two shafts of light (the Unicorns) in the forest but are unable to catch them. They find a silver hair from the mane of one of the Unicorns and on the way to the Great Tree to show Darkness their find, Tic is eaten in the swamp by a water hag later discovered to be Meg Mucklebones. Blix and the others come to a giant horn that Blix blows to call forth Darkness, scattering the animals of the forest in the process. They wait by the horn for Darkness to arrive and when he does, it is as a black cloak that wraps itself around a statue and brings the statue to life. Blunder tries to tell Darkness that it was he, not Blix, who found the Unicorn hair and Darkness repays his outburst by giving him a chicken claw on his left arm. Darkness recognizes the hair and the goblins ask what trap would catch such a creature. Darkness replies that there is only one sure lure for these "angels of light", and that is innocence. The script then moves to Lili in the forest.
There are several clues found in the AV and EV that tell us that this original beginning was shot. Jerry Goldsmith stated that, "the first scene with the Unicorn was six minutes long"(3) and this is backed up in the liner notes of the Goldsmith CD.(4) There is footage of the fourth goblin Tic in a brief shot of four goblins riding on horseback from the original beginning of the film (17:02 on Side 1 of EV). Look quickly or you'll miss it. The horn that Blix blows to call forth Darkness is later found in the AV and EV when the camera pans past it (44:51 on Side 1 of AV, 0:44 on Side 2 of EV) and is noticed by Screwball in the EV when he says, "Look, what a big trumpet. I'll bet it makes a lot of noise!" to which Gump replies, "Our lives are lost if it blows" (1:03 on Side 2 of EV). Gump's response to Screwball makes much more sense after knowing the original beginning. The form that Darkness assumes when he appears to Blix, Pox and Blunder at the horn seems to be the same form he takes when he appears to them at the campfire after they have failed to return with the Alicorns (36:50 on Side 1 of AV, 38:21 on Side 1 of EV). The final indication that the original beginning was shot is that Blunder's left arm is a chicken claw throughout the entire film. The claw can be seen clearly at the point when Blunder is unsure whether or not to follow Jack and Gump in their pursuit of Darkness (21:24 on Side 2 of AV, 30:07 on Side 2 of EV) although there are many other places in the film where it can be easily seen. The original beginning was probably dropped because of studio pressure and time constraints and this is a pity because it was a nice introduction to the evil characters in the film while leaving an air of mystery about Darkness.
The character of Lili is first presented in the film as an "innocent" young girl wandering through the forest. Her origins are unknown at this point and are treated differently in the AV and EV when she arrives at Nell's cottage. Nell says to her, "If you'll pardon my saying it, it's time you started behaving like the lady you are" (9:39 on Side 1 of AV). Later, after the world has been frozen in snow and ice, Lili is referred to as a "beauty" by Pox in the frozen cottage when he says, "You only got the shot in because t'was beauty that led the beast to bay." (24:26 on Side 1 of AV). The AV makes Lili out to be a lady of some sort, and possibly of royal birth, but never makes itself clear. This is strange because the March 10 script is quite clear on the point that Lili is a princess and this is followed through in the EV in the same places where the AV is vague. "If you'll pardon my saying it, it's time you started behaving like the princess you are" says Nell (7:19 on Side 1 of EV). Later, in the frozen cottage, Pox says, "You only got the shot in because the Princess was there." (22:48 on Side 1 of EV). There are several other instances of Lili being referred to as a princess in the EV although the AV avoids this interpretation totally.
Although the March 10 script spends time introducing Jack and Lili as three dimensional characters, as found in the EV, the AV rushes to get to the action. Dialogue is sacrificed and changed in the AV making Jack and Lili typical, two dimensional fairy tale characters. Since LEGEND is a fairy tale and most fairy tale characters are absolutes as Lili is supposed to be in personifying innocence, any implication that Lili and Jack have had sex immediately invalidates the fairy tale structure. When the relationship between Jack and Lili is established as they sit in the forest, it becomes clear that the AV has been changed to appeal to the "younger" generation of teenagers. Jack and Lili kiss, Lili lies down and they kiss again as the film dissolves to a shot of the sun (12:29 on Side 1 of AV). This kissing sequence implies that they have had sex and is not found in the March 10 script or the EV. The footage for this scene was obviously taken from the end of the film when Jack and Lili are reunited because the shot of Lili lying down after Jack kisses her is being run backwards! Just watch Lili's hand as she lays down and grabs hold of Jack's hand (12:33 on Side 1 of AV). Later in the film when Lili tries to kiss Jack and he doesn't respond, Lili asks, "Are you afraid to kiss me, Jack?" (17:32 on Side 1 of EV, 19:48 on Side 1 of AV). Jack replies, "I'm afraid you'll break my heart" (17:33 on Side 1 of EV, 19:50 on Side 1 of AV) Jack's line doesn't make sense in the AV because he has kissed her earlier in the film. His response makes perfect sense in the EV, though, because at this point in the film he is unsure of Lili's love.
After the kissing sequence in the AV Jack tells Lili she has done a good job whistling like the bird she holds. There is then a shot of Lili with her necklace, a close up of the necklace and the reflection of the light on Jack's face (13:16 on Side 1 of AV) that seem totally out of place in the scene since the audience has no idea why Lili has shined the light onto Jack's face. Lili then says, "Jack, tell me our future" and he instead takes her to the Unicorns (13:22 on Side 1 of AV). Lili's line is not found in the March 10 script and exactly how Jack sees the future or what he has told her before about the future is never answered in the AV. The EV follows the March 10 script and after Jack's praise of her whistling, Lili says, "Jack, now teach me rabbit like you promised" (10:10 on Side 1 on EV). Jack replies, "Rabbit? It's much harder than finch"(10:14 on Side 1 of EV). Lili then says, "Let me try, I'm a good student and my father says I'm brilliant. See how brilliant I am? Let me dazzle you with my wisdom" (10:18 on Side 1 of EV). At this point she uses her necklace to shine the sunlight in Jack's face as was seen in the AV. In the context of the EV, Lili shining the light on Jack's face is a teasing and tender moment and seems natural in the narrative. Later in the film Jack remembers these three shots with the necklace and comes up with a plan to defeat Darkness by using the plates in the kitchen to reflect light down into the dungeons (9:14 on Side 2 of AV). In the EV, Jack "remembers" the three shots of Lili with the necklace in a flashback with Lili saying, "Let me dazzle you with my wisdom" (18:12 on Side 2 of EV). While the AV does convey the way that Jack comes up with his plan to defeat Darkness, the original scene between Jack and Lili is more memorable in the EV and therefore more satisfying for the audience on the whole.
Jack's first encounter with Gump and the fairies in the AV ends with an additional line that is not found in the March 10 script or the EV.(5) This line shifts the focus of the film from the more important job of saving the world to just saving Lili. After Jack, Gump, Brown Tom and Screwball have drunk the Elderberry wine, Jack says, "We must find what's happened to my Lili" (28:42 on Side 1 of AV). Although this is a nice thing for Jack to say, he is, as Gump calls him in the film, a "forest child" whose first concern has to be to save the world since this is the biggest problem at the moment. This viewpoint is not as romantic as having Jack's main desire be to save Lili but it is more realistic and more in keeping with the tone of the picture as found in the March 10 script.
Jack, as seen in the TV, is insecure about being a hero and the first test of his abilities with the water hag Meg Mucklebones is almost his last. Jack's insecurities are not found in the AV and are seen a little in the EV but the TV is the closest to the March 10 script by far. After Meg says she intends to eat Jack in the AV, he expertly lashes out with his sword and cuts her head off (43:46 on Side 1 of AV). The audience is then confused when Jack looks surprised and says, "I did it!" (43:56 on Side 1 of AV) since it was never made obvious that he was incapable of "doing" it. In the longer version found on the EV, after Meg says she intends to eat him, Jack tells her that "someone as fair and lovely as yourself, Ms. Meg, deserves far better than scrawny me" (45:04 on Side 1 of EV) and also calls her a "heavenly angel" (45:23 on Side 1 of EV). He then convinces her to look at her reflection in his shield and when she grabs it, he expertly lashes out with the sword and cuts off her head (45:57 on Side 1 of EV). Again, Jack is stunned by his ability to defeat Meg when he says "I did it!" (46:05 on Side 1 of EV) even though, again, the audience doesn't have any reason to believe he wasn't going to kill her. It is only when we get to the TV that Jack's line after he kills Meg begins to make sense. The TV contains all the previous footage found in the AV and EV but continues after Meg takes the shield from Jack (46:46 on TV) and looks at herself in it. While Meg is occupied Jack tries to get his sword out of the sheath (46:47 on TV) and drops it into the water next to him. When he finally does get it out of the water he has a hard time trying to pick it up (47:12 on TV). When Meg turns away from the shield and says to Jack, "Come, come Jack. Give us a kiss before dining" (47:15 on TV), he finally succeeds in lashing out with the sword and cutting her head off. Now the scene finally makes sense when Jack says "I did it" in the TV because it is obvious that his inexperience almost got him killed and it was only through quick thinking and sheer luck that he survived. This extended scene is the best indication of what a longer version of LEGEND would be like if the film was allowed to take its time and tell its story.
Throughout the March 10 script Gump is the leader of the group and Jack is the emerging hero who needs help learning what to do. After defeating Meg Mucklebones, gaining entrance to the Great Tree and escaping from the stockade in the kitchen, Jack says, "We must find the dungeons" (51:57 on Side 1 of AV). This is interesting because in the March 10 script and the EV it is Gump, not Jack, who says "We must find the dungeons" (8:02 on Side 2 of EV). The shift from Jack in the AV to Gump in the EV has to do with making Jack and Lili the center of the story in the AV rather than the situation of the world encased in snow and ice the center of the story as in the EV. Saving Lili is important to Jack in the March 10 script, but he knows that unless the world is saved there will be no place for them to be together again.
Even though the AV focuses more on the action sequences, there are two scenes that are found in the AV that are not in the EV. The first scene has Gump and Jack exploring the dungeons and being attacked by the Pygmies (1:25 on Side 2 of AV) and this is found in the March 10 script. Jack and Gump narrowly escape by running away and Jack is seen as someone who would rather run than fight. Not having this scene in the EV is a loss since we get to see what Jack and Gump are encountering while they look for the Unicorns and it indicates that Jack will only fight when provoked as he is at the end of the film when Darkness hits Lili. The scene immediately following the Pygmies has Brown Tom and Screwball finding the Unicorn (2:16 on Side 2 of AV) and this scene is not found in the EV or the March 10 script. We are later informed in both the AV and EV that Brown Tom and Screwball have found the Unicorn when they meet up with Jack and Gump (10:09 on Side 2 of the AV, 19:17 on Side 2 of EV). Even though the footage of Brown Tom and Screwball finding the Unicorn is not necessary in the AV, it does add to the feeling that they are searching along with Jack, Gump and Oona and actually accomplishing something.
The kitchen fight scene found in the March 10 script involves the fairies very actively helping Jack to defeat the cooks. There are some shots in the AV and EV of the fairies fighting, but their roles in the fight have been greatly diminished to make Jack the center of the action. The only addition to the fight scene in the EV is to have Gump running around with a bow and arrow which he never ends up using in the fight. Watching this scene in either version of the film has never been too easy to follow but some of the confusion is slightly cleared up by the letterboxing found in the FWV which will be discussed later.
When Darkness and Lili have their battle of wits around the great banquet table, the AV and EV each show different sections of the longer seduction scene found in the March 10 script. The AV has Darkness trying to get Lili to eat a black apple or drink some of his black wine (18:36 on Side 2 of AV). This footage is replaced in the EV by having Darkness trying to get Lili to sit in a chair with armrests that move and a seat that bubbles (27:35 on Side 2 of EV). Although neither attempt works, both sequences together constituted the original scene in it's complete form and would have extended Darkness's attempt to seduce Lili considerably.
Jack's final confrontation with the immortal Darkness, after stabbing Darkness with the Alicorn, is treated very differently in the AV, EV and March 10 script. In the March 10 script, Darkness stabs Jack with the Alicorn but Jack does not die, revealing that, although he never knew it, Jack is immortal as well. This idea of Jack being immortal can also be found in the original full name of his character as found in the March 10 script which was Jack O' the Green. Jack's character is supposedly a mythical "green" man who lives in the woods and is one with nature. The revelation that Jack, as well as Darkness, is immortal is hinted at in the AV in Darkness's speech when he says that there can be no light without dark and that, "We are brothers eternal" (27:45 on Side 2 of AV). This speech is not found in the EV and no indication of Jack's immortality is found in this version of the film. Instead, Jack just picks up the sword and lops off Darkness' hand after Gump screams "Kill him" (36:02 on Side 2 of EV).
The cross cutting at the end of the AV which has Jack retrieving the ring for Lili and reviving her while Gump and the other fairies reattach the Unicorn's horn is non-existent in the EV. All of the fairy footage from the AV, starting after Jack tells Gump he will never forget them (28:40 on Side 2 of AV) and picking up after the scene where Lili and Jack watch the Unicorns frolicking together in the stream (30:55 on Side 2 of AV) is missing from the EV. These shots would have significantly kept the ideas expressed throughout the EV consistent through to the end of the film. The EV instead focuses on Jack reviving Lili after a flashback of Lili saying "I'm a princess, it's my right to set a challenge for my suitors" and throwing her ring into a small lake (36:29 on Side 2 of EV). Jack retrieves the ring, puts it on Lili's finger, wakes her with two kisses and says, "It's over. You're safe now." (38:54 on Side 2 of EV). We learn that the Unicorns are both alive and well in the AV and EV when they appear at the end of the film with Gump and the fairies (31:13 on Side 2 of AV, 39:44 on Side 2 of EV). The AV ends with a dissolve to Darkness laughing after the fairies wave good-bye to Jack and Lili (31:53 on Side 2 of AV), but this extra ending is not found in the EV.
The editing in the EV and AV is significantly different throughout to warrant it's own investigation, but within the scope of this article it is only feasible to give a few examples of the minor editing differences to give a flavor of how, in many little ways, the two versions differ. The EV is willing to linger on "preambles and subtleties," by extending and shortening several scenes with different footage as well as rearranging the order of several scenes. The following minor editing differences are examples of extra footage that doesn't necessarily have a major impact on the storyline but does add to the atmosphere of the film nonetheless. There is extra footage of Jack swimming underwater looking for the ring at the beginning and end of the film, more footage of Jack's reaction to the wounded Unicorn, more footage of Lili and the gown dancing, and more footage of Brown Tom and Screwball trying to find their way back through the dungeons before they encounter Jack and Gump again. These scenes were all shortened in the AV.
Some of the footage found in the AV, and not the EV, is so short that it doesn't make any sense why it wasn't included in the EV. One example of this includes the flash of light as the dancing gown attaches to Lili to become her wedding gown (5:52 on side 2 of A.V.). Another example is the cross cutting sequence that occurs near the beginning of the AV and EV as the Unicorn's horn is cut off and Jack breaks through the surface of the ice. This scene is the same in both versions with the exception of one missing shot of the Unicorn's horn being cut off (21:47 on Side 1 of AV) in the EV. Why these extremely brief but effective shots were cut from the EV is unclear as they only would have added to the atmosphere of the film as they did in the AV.
There is other footage that is found in the EV but not in the AV. One example occurs when Jack and Gump meet up with Brown Tom and Screwball after finding Darkness. Jack reveals his plan to Gump and the others when he says, "We must gather every shiny object we can find. We're going to bring light to Darkness" (19:27 of Side 2 of EV). This line is missing from the AV for no apparent reason. Another shot that is not found in the EV, and is not missed at all, is the rather cheesy model shot of Darkness spinning off into the stars at the end of the film and disappearing in a flash of light (28:01 of Side 2 of AV).
There is a case where the AV follows the script and the EV doesn't early on in the film. Between the shots of Lili wandering through the forest and then running up to Nell's cottage, Blix says, "May be Innocent, may be sweet, ain't half as nice as rotting meat" (7:45 on Side 1 of AV). The order of this sequence [Lili wandering through the forest-Blix's comment-Lili arriving at cottage] is the same as the March 10 script. In the EV, the scene with Blix, Pox, and Blunder is moved to after Lili tells Jack, "You're so clever" (9:45 on Side 1 of EV). The overall effect is to shift the focus of what is "sweet" from Lili in the AV to the "sweetness" between Jack and Lili in the EV. Why this change was made is unclear since it makes more sense that what disgusts Blix is Lili's innocence rather then Jack and Lili's sweetness.
Ridley Scott was under studio pressure to change the original Jerry Goldsmith score, which he has been quoted as liking, in favor of the more "commercial" sound of the rock/synth group Tangerine Dream. "Following the current trend in making movies more like music videos in order to attract young people and tie-in with record sales, Universal Pictures...decided to dump the Goldsmith score in favor of a more commercial-oriented soundtrack which, in the words of one source close to the film, would make it more "accessible" to the teenage movie-going audience." An integral part of the film, the song's lyrics, were sacrificed when the Goldsmith score was changed.
Three different sets of lyrics were written into the March 10 script as part of the narrative of the film. In the end only two of the songs actually ended up in the EV, and on the Goldsmith CD, and they contain slightly different lyrics than those found in the March 10 script. The lyrics for "My True Love's Eyes" were written by John Betts and the song first appeared on page 9 of the script when Lili sang :
Come down sparrow, sing me good morning.
Rise up sun, light the arch of the sky.
Living river, turn light to diamonds,
When I look in my true love's eyes.
A slightly different version of this song is heard in the EV when Lili is introduced in the forest (4:36 on Side 1 of EV) :
[Come white moss,] weave us a carpet
Spreading oak make a shade where we lie.
Leaves and branches, whisper a love song,
When I look in my true love's eyes.
This introduction to the song allows the audience to become familiar with "My True Love's Eyes" by having Lili sing it to herself as she wanders through the forest. The second time the song occurs, on pages 17 and 18 of the script, is when Lili sings to the Unicorn as she walks up to touch it :
Like a child feels watching a rainbow.
Like a bird feels the first time it flies
I feel magic stirring within me,
When I look in my true love's eyes.
When the darkness falls like a curtain
And the rivers and streams turn to ice,
I have summer and daylight forever
When I look in my true love's eyes.
This continuation of "My True Love's Eyes" occurs in the EV at the point where Lili goes to touch the Unicorn (14:45 on Side 1 of EV) and again is slightly different from the scripted version :
Living river, turn light to diamonds
When I look in my true love's eyes.
Like a child feels watching a rainbow.
Like a bird feels the first time it flies.
I feel magic stirring within me,
When I look in my true love's eyes.
Young as any spring, his eyes almost sing.
An interesting fact about the lyrics found in the EV is that no mention of Darkness or the rivers and streams turning to ice are found and it seems that a perfect chance to foreshadow the future has been lost here.
The second time lyrics appear in the script, on page 19, they are from the second song that Lili recites to Jack to chase away his fears about her touching the Unicorn :
Sweet William did a-hunting go,
In the wood where fairies dwell.
From dawn to dark roamed he to and fro
Lost, O lost, all under their spell.
Came he at last to where bluebells grow,
He heard them ring, 'tis true to tell.
He lay him down and did not know
The flower's sound was his own death knell.
And while he slept came the Lady fair,
And gathered him up behind her saddle
Now, all young hunters of bluebells beware
Sweet William rode straight through the gates of Hell.
The scripted lyrics were changed to become the song "Bumps and Hollows" as found on the Goldsmith CD and on the EV (16:51 on Side 1 of EV) :
In the bumps and the hollows,
The sunlight and shadows.
He kissed her as those bluebells played.
As his lips met her breath,
He went sweetly to death
At the roots of the bluebells is where he's laid.
There is a lot of information that is conveyed in the words Lili recites in the script that seem to have been lost by the time the lyrics made it to the EV. These changes are particularly felt in the EV when Gump discovers that Lili has touched a Unicorn and he poses a riddle to Jack. "Answer me this riddle and all will be forgiven," says Gump (26:54 on Side 1 of EV). "What is the bell that does not ring, yet it's knell makes the angels sing?" (27:23 on Side 1 of EV). The correct answer that Jack gives is, "Bluebells! To hear them ring means your life is at an end" (27:59 on Side 1 of EV) . We are supposed to make the same connection that Jack does about Bluebells from what Lili has sung to him earlier to chase his fears away. The original lyrics in the script seem to spell out the answer more clearly for the audience then what is found in the EV.
Jack's first meeting with Gump and the fairies was a much more sinister encounter in the March 10 script then what is seen in the AV and EV. Jack and Gump's first meeting is edited differently in the TV and contains some extra lines of dialogue, one of which has to do with Gump threatening to play Jack's "death song" if Jack fails to answer the riddle correctly (28:07 of TV). This doesn't make much sense in the film unless you know that on pages 32 and 33 of the March 10 script, Gump and the fairies have already forced Jack to dance uncontrollably as punishment when he reveals that he has taken Lili to the Unicorns and upset the order of the universe. The original lyrics for this fairy dance are found on page 33 of the March 10 script and have Brown Tom and Screwball chanting :
Round and round and round and round,
Before you're lost, you must be found.
In and out and up and down,
Behind each smile there lurks a frown.
Spin and spin and spin and spin,
To learn to lose you first must win.
Twist and reel and toe and heel,
The end to pain is to learn to feel!
"Faerie Dance", as found on the Goldsmith CD, was scored by Jerry Goldsmith without the lyrics and was later cut from the film according to the liner notes of the CD.(6) With this in mind, Gump's threat in the TV of a "death song" becomes a real threat to Jack who, according to the script, had just moments before experienced how the fairies can make him dance even if he doesn't want to. In order to find where this exhausting fairy dance should have occurred in the AV and EV, watch Jack's hair change from being dry in one shot (27:40 on Side 1 of AV, 26:39 on Side 1 of EV) to wet and stringy just seconds later in the next shot of him (27:48 on Side 1 of AV, 26:49 on Side 1 of EV) for no apparent reason in the film.
The first scene with the fairies ends with a drink of Elderberry wine and a toast to Jack. Gump says, "Here's to Jack, loving fool and fairy friend" (28:18 on Side 1 of AV, also found in TV). The EV has Gump say, "Here's to Jack, riddle solver, dancing fool, and fairy friend" (29:24 on Side 1 of EV). This mention of Jack as a dancing fool makes a little sense in terms of what we have seen in the TV with Gump threatening to play Jack's death song, but without the dancing scene found in the script and scored by Goldsmith, Gump's assessment of Jack as a "dancing fool" doesn't make much sense in the EV.
The Goldsmith score is ultimately a more satisfying soundtrack to the film then the Tangerine Dream score and to fully appreciate the difference it is necessary to hear both versions. Both soundtracks are out there, the Goldsmith on CD and the Tangerine Dream on tape and record (and apparently on a bootleg CD), and should be sought out for comparison if the AV and EV are not easily available.
The French Widescreen Version
The only way to see LEGEND, besides a movie theater, is in a letterboxed version. There is no experience quite like watching a film that you have only ever seen panned and scanned than to finally see it wide-screened, and LEGEND is a movie that is desperately in need of it. Although panning and scanning is a crime itself, the AV is watchable because the P&S follows the action while the P&S on the EV doesn't follow anything. Whoever did the transfer on the EV seems to have just started the film running and left the room. Watching the FWV is a revelation because LEGEND was shot in Panavision and many of the cramped, confusing images found on the EV finally become clear and understandable on the FWV. What follows are some of the many examples of the stunning differences between the FWV and the EV, both of which share the same print.
There are two crimes committed in the EV that were caused by the lousy P&S. The first crime occurs when Jack first meets Gump and the shot in question shows Gump's right arm, the fire and nothing else (26:06 on Side 1 of EV). Visually this shot makes no sense since Gump is mostly offscreen and the fire isn't doing anything except burning. In the FWV you discover that Jack is sitting to the right of the fire looking guilty because of what he has done and now the shot makes sense. The second, and by far the worst, crime in the EV concerns what seems to be Lili looking at Jack and smiling after she is revived at the end of the film (38:57 on Side 2 of EV). In reality we discover in the FWV that Lili is looking at the ring Jack has put on her finger and her smile is because the ring is to be their wedding ring. The P&S on the EV has destroyed the meaning of this shot by cropping it so badly.
Most of the other revelations in the FWV have to do with more image information on both sides and a little on the top and bottom. There are several cases where two or more characters are on screen at one time in the FWV but only one or two can be seen in the EV. Near the beginning of the film Jack points towards the Unicorns (12:31 on Side 1 of EV) and he is the only one on the screen. This same shot contains Lili as well in the FWV. Near the end of the film when Darkness hisses (30:36 on Side 2 of EV), and Jack jumps back from the ledge and says, "Lili" the audience has no idea what he is talking about since only Darkness is seen in the shot. The FWV shows Lili standing next to Darkness in the same shot and now Jack's reaction makes sense. In the last sequence with Jack, Gump and Oona, the image on the screen shows Gump, with Oona's shoulder in the background, talking offscreen to Jack (36:38 on Side 2 of EV). The FWV shows that all three characters were on the screen at the same time in the same shot.
There are several instances where the letterboxing in the FWV clears up some of the lousy timing and editing found in the panned and scanned EV. The whole kitchen scene, from the point where Jack and the others rescue Blunder to the fight with the cooks flows a little more smoothly in the FWV because more can be seen of what they are doing. Since most of the fight sequence is cut rather quickly, not having all the visual information in the EV leads to confusion and disorientation as to who is fighting who. The audience is more visually orientated because of the letterboxing in the FWV but this does not make the actual sequence of events in the fight any easier to follow. If anything, the extra visual information in the FWV makes it clear that the rest of the fight, as found in the March 10 script, would help the whole scene make more sense if the footage was reinserted.
Finally, a minor detail that the FWV reveals is that the horn, seen by Screwball in the EV (0:44 on Side 2 of EV), is actually wrapped into and part of a tree. While this seems insignificant and not worth mentioning, the wider shot shows how much thought and time went into the sets for LEGEND and how this horn had originally played an important role in the original beginning of the film as found in the March 10 script.
The happy ending with Jack and Lili running off into the sunset has always seemed out of place after all that has occurred in the film and all that the characters have endured. The AV tries to make up for this by having Darkness appear as the last image of the film while the EV doesn't try to remedy this situation at all. In the March 10 script, on pages 120 and 121, Jack retrieves the ring for Lili, but when she awakes, Jack has returned to his element, the forest, and tells Lili in a voice-over, "I love you...I'm always here, Lili....Whenever you come...." Lili leaves the forest "mystified, but happy" and Jack O' the Green is shown riding on the back of the Unicorn with his arms outstretched, an "incarnation of all that is magical in Nature." However, this was not the original ending of the film that was shot.
In an interview with Ridley Scott from the French newspaper Le Monde, Scott revealed the original ending of the film. After Lili awakens with the ring Jack has retrieved, she gives it to him to keep safe for her and then leaves the forest. Jack is left holding the ring, confused and crying.(7) In an interview for the French Magazine L'Ecran Fantastique, Scott said, "Lily is a typical princess of legends. Except she's more manipulative. You quickly discover that she isn't as innocent as one thinks at the beginning...in fact, Darkness' error is to believe that Lily is innocence itself...The only innocent person in the film is Jack."(8) Scott believed that the ending with Lili leaving Jack the ring was optimistic because there was a chance for Jack and Lili's love to continue to grow the next day when she returned. This seems like a more plausible, consistent and satisfying ending to the film since it is more in keeping with the tone of the picture as found in the March 10 script. With this ending comes the realization that Jack is the only truly innocent character in the film and it makes you wonder if he has learned from the whole experience or not. Will he be waiting for Lili the next day or will he be riding on the Unicorn's back? Who knows?
Interest in LEGEND continues to grow every day. One early sign was the release and subsequently updated re-release of the Goldsmith CD with the original score and incredible liner notes. Next came the LEGEND FAQ on the Internet. This new FAQ joins the ranks of other cult films with FAQs : Blade Runner (another Ridley Scott film), Brazil, Dune, and Highlander. Now anyone on the Internet with an interest in LEGEND can find a source to draw information from to discuss and debate. There is also supposed to be a bootleg of the Tangerine Dream version of the LEGEND soundtrack coming out in January with an addition song. With Ridley Scott's track record of best selling laserdiscs, including the Criterion Collection Blade Runner, the Director's cut of Blade Runner, and the Alien boxed set, maybe a Director's cut of LEGEND will be in our future. When that day comes, we will all be able to enjoy the original Jerry Goldsmith score, the original beginning and ending, the Panavision framing, and all the other lost bits that that were the stuff of LEGEND once upon a time.
Special Thanks To Geoff Wright, Conchi Romero, and Michele Recore
LEGEND. Dir. Ridley Scott. Laserdisc. A Universal release distributed by MCA Home Video, 1986. (American Version #40193)
The image quality of this laserdisc seems slightly darker than it should be. The side break occurs after Lili jumps over the flames in the hallway and runs through a doorway. This side break is very poorly placed as it occurs in the middle of the scene with Brown Tom and Screwball trying to follow Lili and failing. The effect is disorientating. The panning and scanning of the film, though a crime in and unto itself, is fair in this release.
LEGEND. Dir. Ridley Scott. Laserdisc. A Universal release distributed by Warner Home Video, 1990. (Japanese Version #NJL-38528)
The image quality of this laserdisc is very washed out. The side break occurs after Jack defeats Meg and it is a very satisfying break since no scene is interrupted. The panning and scanning of the film is horrible on this release since the action is never followed and the images are cropped terribly.
LEGEND. Dir. Ridley Scott. French Widescreen Version.
This SECAM cassette is the only known letterboxed version of LEGEND yet released. The framing ins nice and the colors are bold, but the image is dark and susceptible to all the lack of detail inherent in the SECAm system.
LEGEND. Dir. Ridley Scott. Television version.
The image quality of this video is just like the AV of the Laserdisc, darker than it should be, but the scenes with the extra footage are extremely dark.
LEGEND - Music from the Motion Picture Soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, distributed in 1986 by MCA #MCAC-6165.
This tape contains the Brian Ferry song "Is Our Love Strong Enough?", the Jon Anderson vocals on "Loved by the Sun", and the Tangerine Dream score.
Original Soundtrack Recording - LEGEND - The Jerry Goldsmith Score, distributed in 1992 by Silva Screen Records, Ltd. #Filmcd 045.
There was an older version of the Goldsmith score and "it was Silva Screen's original intention just to reissue the original album with improved artwork, notations and sound. However...it was discovered that the original album master had been lost..." and so digital tapes from the original sessions were found and from this was produced the Silva Screen's compact disc. The CD contains very extensive and informative liner notes.
LEGEND of Darkness (A Screenplay) by William Hjortsberg, Early draft with no date, Published by Script City, 145 Pages.
LEGEND Original Screenplay by William Hjortsberg, 2nd Draft Revised 10 March 1984, Published by Script City, 121 Pages.
Both scripts can be found at :
8033 Sunset Blvd., Suite 1500
Hollywood, Ca 90046
Telephone # (213) 871 - 0707
1) Jones, Alan. "LEGEND." Cinefantastique. Volume 15, Number 5, January 1986: P. 27.
2) Jones, ibid., P. 27.
3) Benair, Jonathan. "The Musics for LEGEND." Cinemascore. Volume 15, Summer 1987: P. 28.
4) Original Soundtrack Recording - LEGEND - The Jerry Goldsmith Score, distributed in 1992 by Silva Screen Records, Ltd. #Filmcd 045, P. 3.
5) The rest of Jack's first encounter with Gump is dealt with extensively in the section discussing the different scores of the film.
6) Original Soundtrack Recording - LEGEND - The Jerry Goldsmith Score, distributed in 1992 by Silva Screen Records, Ltd. #Filmcd 045, P. 5.
7) Le Monde, August 29, 1985; 10.
8) Unger, Tchalai. "Ridley Scott a propos de LEGEND." L'Ecran Fantastique. Number 60, September 1985: 20-22,75.
© 1995-2005 Sean Murphy (firstname.lastname@example.org). All rights reserved.
This LEGEND article, as it appeared in Video Watchdog, is 13 pages long with 6 pictures and contains an indepth analysis of the American, European, Television, and French Widescreen versions of LEGEND. If you'd like to order a copy of the issue, which is issue #29, call or write Video Watchdog at :
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