Wednesday, December 17, 2014

It would be an honor defending "Legends Of The Fall"

     Legends Of The Fall celebrates its 20th anniversary this week. Legends of the Fall is a film about brothers who remain linked together as time marches ever on. One may fall, one may run away, and one may stay, but they are always together.

      The setting is the Rocky Mountains of Montana in the early 1900s, and this is a tale of love, betrayal, and brotherhood. After being discharged, Colonel Ludlow decides to move to the wilds of Montana, where they can grow up away from the government and society he has learned to despise. Colonel Ludlow's favorite son, Tristan is willful and as wild as the mountains. Impossibly handsome and charming, even his younger brothers fiancee' cant help herself from falling for him. As the brothers set out to fight a war in Europe, suspicion and jealousy threatens to tear apart their once indestructible bond.

     At first I was preparing for a schmaltzy, excessively sentimental chick flick, yet I was stunned to discover that I loved it. It sold me as much then as it does now. I can acknowledge how the movie appears unrelenting in its “Do you understand this is a very sad moment and a wise, old Native American is narrating the story?” way of going about its business. Yet, after the initial plunge, the result was quite refreshing. I bought in. I became a card-carrying member of the Ludlow family. 

     It's really more than a story, because like the film’s Alfred and Tristan, we can have our disagreements, and that doesn’t change anything. I’m Tristan in this scenario. I grew up with two brothers on a farm in back country Washougal, and like Tristan, was always wild at heart. Growing up our  cousins would come visit and we'd don camo-coveralls, head out into our dense forest, hacking trails and building forts, like we were the explorers of the wild west. Donning coon skinned caps and wielding machetes and hatchets; we were cast under the spell of "we gotta be savage". I still recall our many adventures with a smile. Those experiences I would not  take back for the world. Yet what remains between us through the toil, hardships and pain of time's passing is a bond unending. There is nothing we wouldn't do for each other. Or me for my brothers. I love my brothers and cousins like my own heart. I may have a poor way of showing it at times yet if it took my life itself to lay down for their happiness I would neither hesitate or second guess myself to provide it.

   Like this timely classic, my brothers are similar in a way, my older  brother Kelvin was always an admirable gentleman. One I looked up to like no other. Yet failed in my aspirations to match either his couth, demeanor or success. One driven and focused, sophisticated and a born leader of men, he was very similar to Alfred in this tale. My younger brother not unlike Samuel, is undoubtedly the best of all of us, smart, witty, well liked with a good sense of humor. Not given over to a quick temper or angry resolve. He certainly is the best of all of us, and not much you could say to me would convince me otherwise.

There are many quotes throughout this timeless classic that strike me as memorable:

“Once … once!”

“And make an honest woman of her?”


“Just give him a God damn beer!”

Samuel: “Nice shiner.”
Tristan: “Yeah, well, I hit her back”

“I followed all of the rules, man's and God's. And you, you followed none of them. And they all loved you more: Samuel, Father, and my... even my own wife.”

“She was like the water that freezes inside a rock and breaks it apart. It was no more her fault than it is the fault of the water when the rock shatters.”

“It is hard to tell of happiness. Time goes by and we feel safe too soon.”

Tristan: “Samuel, God bless you. You are good at everything you try to do. I'm sure it'll be the same with fucking.”
Samuel: “Tristan, really. We're talking about my future wife.”
Tristan: “Oh, you're not gonna fuck her?”
Samuel: “No!”
Tristan: “No?”
Samuel: “No! I'm planning to be with her.”
Tristan: “I recommend fucking.”

Alfred: “I don't know what to say. Tristan's always been wild. You love him for that.
Susannah: Do I? Yeah, I suppose I do.”

“Tristan, I have nowhere to send this letter and no reason to believe you wish to receive it. I write it only for myself. And so I will hide it away along with all the things left unsaid and undone between us.”

[Describing Tristan] “I think it was the bear, growling inside him. Making him do bad things. Nothing that Tristan did was truly his own fault. It was the bear.

"Screw the Government, screw em!"

“I don’t want my boy to see. I don’t want my boy to see!.”

“It doesn't take a genius to tell they'll be coming after you for this..Watch my boys for me...Brother, It would be an honor”

“It was a good death.”

“Tristan died in 1963. The moon of the popping trees. He was last seen up in the North Country, where the hunting was still good. His grave is unmarked, but it does not matter. He had always lived in the borderland anyway, somewhere between this world and the Other.”

“Alfred: You have won her.....I am bringing her home.”

“I thought Tristan would never live to be an old man. I was wrong about that. I was wrong about many things. It was those who loved him most who died young. He was a rock they broke themselves against however much he tried to protect them.”

       I could go on, but by now the point is as sharp as Tristan’s hair is long. And I will always beleive this is an underrated classic and should recieve greater precendence than even "The Dark Knight Rises" In the wake of Heath Ledgers untimely demise.

      Legends of the Fall isn’t going to get the attention of a Shawshank or Pulp Fiction this year, despite its anniversary. I understand why, and so I’ve come to accept it as a guilty pleasure in many ways. But whenever I watch it. I'm reminded or growing up; of boys striving to find their place in this great world of fairy tales we once contrived to invent, visions of grandeur and resolve. We haven’t had to deal with one of us passing away or setting off to war, but we have had our fights. We’ve grown apart in ways both personal and geographic, and we’ve just plain grown up. There are now, wives, distance and change in the equation, but the brotherhood we shared then and now still resonates with me, as I hope it does with them. I’ll put it this way: Should any corrupt politicians and bootleggers ever attempt an attack on their lives, I’ll be ready in my three-piece suit with shotgun in hand. Ready to defend. Both guns blazin' shootin' from the hip.

"It would be an honor."

-Kyle Crockford

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