While movies like A River Runs Through It and Interview With A Vampire introduced the public to Brad Pitt, it was probably his performance as Tristan Ludlow in Legends Of The Fall that helped turn him into one of Hollywood's leading men. But Pitt isn't the only reason Legends works as a film. It's filled with great performances – including supporting work from Anthony Hopkins and an often overlooked, but nevertheless fantastic, performance by Aidan Quinn, playing Tristan's older brother Alfred.
The movie tells the story of three brothers – Tristan, Alfred and Samuel (Henry Thomas), and takes place in Montana during the early 1900's in the period during and after World War I. As the movie opens, Samuel – who is the youngest brother – is returning from college and brings back his fiancé, Susanna (Julia Ormond) to meet the family. Susanna and Tristan instantly have a spark between them. The brothers all head off to war, and Samuel is tragically killed in action. The guilt that Tristan feels for not protecting his younger brother and for having feelings for his fiancé affects almost everything that happens in his life from that point forward.
The story of Legends is an epic one, well-directed by Edward Zwick, but while it is large in scope, it never loses its true focus: which is on the Ludlow family. This is really a story about brothers – Tristan and Alfred – and if decades of hurt can break the bonds of siblings. In the end, we're glad to see that blood really does matter, and even the worst tragedies can't come between brothers who really love each other.
At first glance (given the bonus material, discussed below), I feared this was exactly the same transfer as the original DVD – but more careful inspection between this copy and my old version revealed that this is a totally new one...but with good news and bad news. The good news is that this new transfer has pretty much removed all the dirt and defects that were visible on the original release. The bad news is that the transfer seems to have a much darker tone and much more saturation in the color as compared to the 2000 Special Edition, and I must admit I enjoyed the overall tones of the first release more than this one...this version seems just a touch too "dark," in my opinion. Still, given the choice, this is a better video transfer, and the version you'll want to pick up if you don't already own Legends on DVD.
I had a tougher time distinguishing any differences in the audio of this release and the 2000 Special Edition, but I'm fairly sure the 5.1 Dolby Digital here is exactly the same as the 5.1 from the original release. Like the previous version, this 2005 edition also contains a French 2.0 track, however the Spanish and Portuguese 2.0 tracks that were present on the 2000 version are absent from this release. Likewise, while the 2000 release had subtitles available in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean and Thai, this version only offers up English and French subtitle options.
Aside from a 24-page Movie Scrapbook booklet that is included with this release, this is pretty much exactly the same as the 2000 release in terms of bonus material, with the only difference being in the Trailers for other titles that are on the DVD (sadly, the two trailers for Legends Of The Fall that were on the 2000 release have been removed for this version).
Carried over from the 2000 release are a pair of Commentary Tracks, the first with director Edward Zwick and star Brad Pitt; and the second with Cinematographer John Toll and Production Designer Lilly Kilvert. Three Deleted Scenes have also been carried over, with optional commentary from Zwick. Other repeats include a 5-minute Production Design Featurette and a 6-minute Original Featurette. Finally, both the cast Filmographies and the Isolated Score Highlights that appear here were on the 2000 DVD release.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I gave this one a "rent" recommendation, because while I really love this movie, other than the new video transfer, this was pretty much a totally uncalled for double-dip by the studio. If you have the old version, I really don't think there's any need to upgrade to this new one. Yes, the new transfer is more cleaned up – but it's also a bit darker, so I'm not sure the tradeoff is worth it. If you don't already own Legends this would be the version I'd recommend picking up, but otherwise just stick with the 2000 release if you already happen to own it.