Saturday, October 29, 2016

Last Unicorn

It's funny that I'd never heard of Legend (1986) until I saw it in Netflix. It stars Tom Cruise, somewhat well known, and was directed by Ridley Scott, for goodness sake. I guess the American release was a bit of a hash, with a lot of cuts and a Tangerine Dream soundtrack. Maybe that's why I didn't here about it at the time.

This is a magic fantasy, with demons and ogres, princesses and forest boys. The demon is Darkness, a shadowy figure at first, but voiced by Tim Curry. He sends his most evil ogre (Alice Playten, with makeup inspired by Keith Richards) to kill the last unicorns and bring back their horns. The princess is Mia Sara, gamboling in the forest in full princess regalia - this isn't one of those realistic fairytale movies where people get dirty and have bad teeth.

She is secretly meeting with Tom Cruise, a long-haired ragged forest boy. He hops around on his haunches like a Sabu, and he takes his princess to see the unicorns. Unfortunately, the ogre gets one right about then, leaving her feeling very guilty. Also, winter falls in the middle of the summer.

Our young lovers get seperated, with Cruise falling in with a bunch of somewhat silly elves. Sara, on the other hand, is captured by the demon, who falls in love with her. Now we get to see him in his full demonic makeup and horns, and he's gorgeous. He seduces Sara with his riches and she seems to go over to his side, getting all goth and doing a lovely waltz, alone and with him. By the way, the score by Jerry Goldsmith is very striking - I can't imagine replacing it with synth-pop.

There are so many movies Legend calls to mind: various Disney movies, Willow with it's comic pixies (I would have liked to see Kilmer in the Cruise role), the Russo-Finnish movies that MST3K showed, like The Day the Earth Froze. Peter Beagle's Last Unicorn (haven't seen the animated movie). It has mystical unreality like Boorman's Excaliber. And of course, Labyrinth, with the young girl seduced by the goblin/demon. I didn't feel like these sources were ripped off, just lovingly referred to.

I have a feeling this movie isn't for everyone, or for every mood. You need to be able to accept a large amount of corny sentiment and fluffy ornament. Also, not everyone can stand Tom Cruise - he's not an embarrassment here, though. So keep an open mind and child-like sense of wonder and give it a spin.

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