As a kid, this movie enchanted me time and time again.
Legend… release in 1985, directed by Ridley Scott
This one is a bit darker than my previous movies. See, I even liked creepy way back then. And this movie has real people… no Muppets… no cartoons.
I can’t tell you where I first saw Legend. All I do know is that I watched it a bajillion times. I bought the soundtrack and would belt out the final song “Loved by the Sun” with gusto. I own this on VHS tape… which is a problem, since we no longer own a working VCR. There is much sadness.
So I rely here on my expert memory.
We begin our tale with Jack. Yes, that would be Tom Cruise.
As he meets with his love Lili and teaches her to talk to the forest animals.
Yet he has more to show her this day. He takes her to see the unicorns, magical creatures, sacred to all of the forest.
Lili can’t resist. Against Jack’s warning, she goes to touch one.
Enter the goblins, Blix and his crew, who shoot one of the pair of unicorns with a poison dart, for the Lord of Darkness wants their power, which resides in their horns.
The animals flee and Jack berates Lili for her actions, but she laughs, saying all is well, then distracts him with her ring and a promise to marry whoever finds it… and tosses it.
Jack chases the ring, diving into a pool to get it, but as he searches the world changes. The pond freezes and Lili, scared at what is happening, runs away. She hides in a cottage, where she spies on the goblins with the unicorn’s horn and overhears them talking of how they had taken down the unicorn because “’tis beauty held the beast at bay.”
Knowing she messed up, Lili follows them to make things right, ending up captured by the Lord of Darkness (Tim Curry, who is FABULOUS!).
He falls in love with her. Tempts her. And I have to say the scene where he offers her jewels and a very cool dress freaked me out as a kid. She dances with the dress, lured by its magic…
Then accepts it.
Now Jack finally fights his way out of the frozen pond and searches for Lili. But finds the unicorns, one dead the other scared.
Through tears, he apologizes for his wrong doing and promises to save them.
He meets a group of fae… and my child heart GOES WILD! Gump an elf. Two dwarves Brown Tom and Screwball, who like to drink Elderberry wine. And Oona a fairy, who is a flickering light.
They know the world’s magic has been thrown into chaos and learn that Jack knows why. Together they set off on a quest for weapons to bring down the Lord of Darkness, to keep the unicorn safe. To save the world.
A cave full of weapons means that our simple forest-boy Jack gets a make-over.
They journey to the Lord of Darkness’ home.
Meeting Meg Mucklebones, who wants to eat them.
Jack’s first test. Taking his newly acquired sword he kills her. Maybe he can be a hero.
But they get caught and are thrown into the Dark Lord’s dungeon. If only they can get the key…
Then she turns on Jack, trying to tempt him. She’ll get the key if he kisses her and even uses her fairy glamour to change into Lili. But what Jack feels isn’t love and won’t…
She does get the key and frees them. They group sneaks off and finds Lili and the Lord of Darkness… it seems Lili is on his side, begs to be the one to kill the last unicorn. Jack is devastated, but they learn that light can kill the Lord of Darkness. Sunlight is his destroyer.
They set to work placing gold plates in just the right spots to reflect light into the deepest dark of the Lord’s domain. They send Screwball up the shaft to set the final plate.
They wait, watching the Lord and Lili as they prepare to slay the unicorn, hoping Screwball makes it in time.
Jack trains an arrow on his love, ready to kill her to save the unicorn. But he can’t… “I trust you, Lili.”
And Lili hasn’t been swayed to the dark side… for as she goes to kill the unicorn, she strikes the chain that holds it and sets it free.
The Lord of Darkness strikes her, sending her flying to the ground and Jack leaps in clad in his golden armor and wielding his sword.
He doesn’t stand much of a chance against the brute…”What have we here,” Lord Dark spits, “a little boy?”
Yet just as hope seems lost, Screwball sets the last plate, catching the final rays of the sun. The beam of light bounces off each carefully placed plate striking the Lord in the chest. Gump lets loose his arrow and Jack stabs the evil-doer.
But as the Lord of Darkness’ life drains away he reminds us that he lives in everyone, for…
Yet the evil is destroyed. And our heroes pick up the pieces.
Jack finds Lili’s ring, his challenge, and brings it back to her, which revives her.
They take the horn back to the unicorn and heal him.
Light beats the dark. Love conquers evil.
All well-known plots, good plots. Good feels. And as a kid I loved that, but this movie wasn’t as much about the feels for me. It was the world. The way it brought to life a land I wanted to see so badly.
The magic. Unicorns. Fairies. Dwarves. Goblins. The terrible Lord of Darkness.
The message that darkness might live in us, but we can choose the light.
“Legends can be now and forever, loved by the sun…”