Lendas da Paixão, from 1995, is a classic of narrative cinema, something practically unheard of nowadays.
In Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, Brad Pitt took on the iconic role of Lieutenant Aldo Raine, who demanded one thing from every member of his fighting force: 100 Nazi heads! The character was referring to his ancestors who dealt with the corpses of their enemies in the same way. But Brad Pitt and rolling heads aren’t just seen in Inglourious Basterds.
In Legends of the Fall, by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai), however, it is not Brad Pitt who gives the order to scalp his enemies. Instead, like Tristan Ludlow, he’s in action in the First World War and does the dirty work himself! Very appropriate: There is also an indigenous context, as Brad Pitt’s character was socialized by a Native American named Ein-Stich (Gordon Tootoosis), among others. But that’s where the 1995 epic, which can be watched with a subscription to Netflixit really picks up speed…
WHAT IS THE STORY OF LEGENDS OF THE PASSION?
Colonel William Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) and his three sons Samuel (Henry Thomas), Tristan (Brad Pitt) and Alfred (Aidan Quinn) live in the Rocky Mountains in the early 20th century. Shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, the relationship between the three brothers is put to the test: Alfred falls in love with Susannah (Julia Ormond), Samuel’s fiancee, who, in turn, has feelings for Tristan. When the brothers decide to go to the front against their father’s wishes, the family’s unity threatens to fall apart.
While the bloody conflict of the First World War costs Samuel his life, Tristan completely succumbs to feelings of guilt over his brother’s death and disappears from the scene for several years. When he finally returns to his father’s farm as a shrewd horse dealer and alcohol smuggler, Alfred is married to Susannah and working in politics as a congressman. The brothers’ relationship is put to the test and they gradually become rivals – even in the battle for Susannah’s love.
AN OVERWHELMING EPIC
What was common in the 1990s is still being practiced today – and this sounds a little absurd – by James Cameron of all people: classic epic cinema. Yes, Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water also work as expansive screen epics that rely on big emotions and even bigger images. No wonder James Cameron has always pointed out that Avatar borrowed many elements from Dances with Wolves with Kevin Costner – perhaps the most impressive representative of 1990s epic cinema.
Legends of a Passion also does the same, telling the story of a family whose lives are dominated by love and death from different perspectives and over several decades. Edward Zwick’s old-fashioned film, in the best sense of the word, lacks the historical accuracy that the historical background may require at first glance. Instead, the director is constantly interested in overloading the audience with images and emotions. And that brings us back to the topic.
Edward Zwick, who has a special talent for fantastic and wonderfully illustrated cinema, takes the audience by the hand, with all narrative and staging prudence, and leads them through this increasingly desolate story, which demands a lot from its audience in terms of of romantic suffering – because Brad Pitt and Julia Ormond, who love each other but simply cannot be together, are an absolutely perfect couple, deeply moving in their equally animalistic and gentle passion.
So if you want to be transported back to a time when storytelling was a top priority, be sure to watch Legends of the Passion. And when Brad Pitt looks forlornly straight into the audience’s eyes in the pouring rain, you’ve already fallen in love with the film.
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