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on 13 April 2017
The plot course of the first half or so of the film was quickly utterly predictable. Now, many things are in some ways predictable. That in itself is not a reason to kick a film to the curb in itself. But, it was just so depressing, and not in any way or of a type I can enjoy (perhaps some can and do -- I guess some can and do given the positive reviews). The less predictable thing is that at the end of this you expect the film to end after he comes back from war. But of course, he's emotionally raw and tormented so he has to get through that... Fair enough; that makes sense, probably more realistic, if slightly over amped up than the `happily ever after' implied scene. And, yet more depressing. But, in the part following (the second third of it or so) -- which probably gets allocated to `predictable' if you go on to ponder `what's the crappiest way that could bring the remnant of this family back together again?' and realise just how much of the thing is left -- you seem to only tune in to the family when something bad is happening to the family (a father with such convictions that the film is particularly keen to convince you are correct with making him out to be a good stoic guy with his opinions of the Indians, so that when his son/s become ardent to be contrary to them, they can end up being ostracised -- does the writer/filmmakers really believe that someone can be that right and the government that corrupt? that a father should have that little faith in their son to be able to do an ounce of something good? I can't think that they are trying to be intelligent and suggesting that no one is so perfect given the scenes with the alcohol etc) or people are dying. Yet, more depressing. And it's not just as in the passing and natural waning of life depressing. If you want to have the keenness of loss smeared infront of your face for a couple of hours, I'd say this is a fairly good option. But, because of what it covered, and the themes, even if I was in that sort of mood, the style (never been one for this sort of period, Western-esque style films) just would not work for me, personally.

I can only guess that the sentiment they wanted to put forth from this film is `follow your own moral code with courage' the state of how one gets to that not really being indicated and how doing so can lead to a `good death'... Something to do with being stoic? Heck knows. That man shouldn't let them be imposed upon might be one, except there were scenes that indicated the contrary with our all wise courageous father figure -- so perhaps, you shouldn't let yourself be imposed upon unless it is be some elder or God?... *shrugs* Perhaps, it's trying to be intelligent and deep with its coverage, but not quite wrestled itself free from archetypes (as another reviewer suggested seemed somewhat prevalent in places) -- which probably wasn't helped by the wise old Indian accentuating them with simplistic analogies in the instance of the `bear', at least (I quite liked the one about water and ice and the female character -- earlier in the film, also, he husband-to-be referred to her as all that was cold and fluid or something like that). Perhaps it was trying to do too much. Perhaps, it was trying to do nothing. I probably will never know.

Unlike other negative reviewers, I did not find the female suicide that strange. I did however find it unpleasing that she managed to be engaged to all three brothers within one family -- I know she was out of the way and all, but, seriously?!

I don't think I'm any the wiser or any more appeased with having watched this film by writing this review. A friend mentioned this was considered a modern classic, slightly aghast at my complaints regarding the film, I had to look at some reviews.... And then, try to reconcile it by giving one...
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on 3 February 2016
You'd have to be made of granite not to be blown away by the epic sweep and intensity of the family saga of love and heartbreak in this superb addition to the line of classic Westerns. This one really delivers.

True to the nature of the Old West, the story told has a big, ambitious vision. It moves along easy, taking it's time to roll-out the tale. The pacing never sags or gets ponderous. You're drawn in and then the involvement just builds inexorably. It's a very fine piece of screen-writing: thrillingly tragic drama of emotional authenticity.

Set in Montana in the 1900s a big part of it's freshness is that it's an Edwardian period vision of a West transitioning into the modern era. It looks stunning thanks to the combined brilliance of John Toll's cinematography and Lilly Kilvert's production design.

Both are inspired to create a beautiful visual lushness and detailed verisimilitude that immerses the viewer in the period world the film inhabits with complete conviction. A look recalling to my mind the great Edwardian pictorialist painters of the West (Remington, Russell & Co.) -- often attempted in Westerns but never better achieved than here. Nice to see Toll and Kilvert honoured with their own maker's commentary track on this collector's edition.

Their inspirational craftsmanship is matched in all departments, however. There's nothing stylistically flashy or gimmicky about the artistic vision of this production. There's no straining to be innovative or fashionable. This is straight-down-the-line, old-fashioned storytelling with no trendy BS to impair the integrity of the tale. One openly unabashed in it's All-American, big budget plushness and romantic turbulence. No tricks; simply impeccable craftsmanship, perfectly executed. A joy.

The central figure in the ace bunch of filmmakers responsible, is clearly director and co-producer Edward Zwick. His fine judgement and passionate vision has clearly infused the production; enthused the entire cast and crew. My guess is that everyone in the team has to have been energised by the conviction that what they were crafting together had potential masterpiece written all over it.

Performances are uniformly excellent (presumably due to perfectly judged casting) but Brad Pitt in particular, really shines as the wild, middle brother whose passionate nature is the rock against which the rest of the family dashes. I know at least one young lady who will be quietly thrumming watching him shine as Tristan. Not sure, but I'm guessing his status as matinee heartthrob must have taken a quantum leap with this role. Fans can hear him share a commentary track with Mr. Zwick and judge for themselves how jazzed he was to be a part of this excellent film.

And not forgetting the fine method performance of Bart, playing the bear. A key role. Yes, bears too. And Indians. And action. And romance. And dirty, state politics. And soul. And spirit. It's a proper western and a keeper.

Be aware however, that this passionate but unsentimental movie takes no prisoners. By its end, you may find your heart buried in a box somewhere in Montana.
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A highly ambitious project that aimed to deal with weighty and emotive subjects. We chronicle the lives of three brothers who live in the remote Montana wilderness with their father an ex cavalry Officer tired of the Indian wars. The youngest brother then brings his bride to be home which causes much friction. They all go off to the Great war where one is killed, one is invalided out and the other sent back due to his mental state. We then watch the lives of the two living brothers go their separate ways before a final reunion.

Plenty of scope for a good film there, but sadly it fails in all departments except for the cinematography. Pitt's descent into a deranged scalphunter of nasty Germans, later followed by an extended Melville type around the world adventure are all totally unbelievable. Sadly a bit of blubbing does not cover his obvious acting limitations. He was I am glad to say considerably better in "A River Runs Through it". Anthony Hopkins has less excuse to appear in the movie. I hardly think he was that strapped for cash. His accent seems to be a mix of Scots, Welsh and Swedish. Interesting but not very convincing. His portrayal of a stroke victim owes much to Lon Chaney. Very, very scary. The reviewer who mentioned Quasimodo was spot on! Even a respected actor like Hopkins can be reduced to ham acting given the right circumstances. Not a good one for his CV.

Things happen in the film for no apparent reason. The Coen brothers can get away with this, but in this film it is just plain silly. Our heroine cuts her hair and kills herself for no really good reason. The idea I think was that she was really in love with Pitt. Why, who knows as their relationship was not really explored in any depth. I could go on but I think I have had my say. If you want to see how this type of film should be done, then watch "Comes a Horseman". I have given the film a generous two stars because the cinematography is excellent and also because I am biased towards westerns even if this one does give them a bad name. I fortunately paid only peanuts for it in a charity shop and still feel cheated. Don't bother!
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on 5 May 2009
Surprised myself at enjoying this film so much. This is a film for both men and women, very gritty, historical, interesting, action packed yet with an underlying love story running through the whole film. Anthony Hopkins is superb and the young Brad Pitt is exceptional, with a very moving performance.
Suitable for ages 15 and over, in my opinion, the film combines some history of the native American Indians,the second world war and all its repercussions and a love story which affects a whole family. Brilliantly narrated throughout, great cinematic photography and good dialogue. A classic film which you want to watch again.
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on 13 January 2009
I had to check the DVD box to make sure I'd watched the same film as the other reviewers because this is such an unbelievably bad film with a thin plot stretched until the knicker elastic snaps. You just get the feeling that none of the actors or the director were remotely bothered when they made this one. It's just chock full of stereotypes - one emotion allowed per character. For example, Brad Pitt does angry and, err, that's it. Anthony Hopkins, for no particular plot reason changes into Quasimodo. Scenes come and go for no particular reason. The female lead commits suicide for, again, no particular reason after giving herself a haircut so we know that she's a bit down. It's just impossible to feel any ehgagement with any of the characters. There's no explanation of who or what "The Legend" is and "The Falls" doesn't figure anywhere - but, by the end (and I only watched it to the end because I'd paid good money for it), I couldn't care less. The landscapes are quite pretty so it's definitely one where you come away humming the scenery. A cure for insomnia.
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on 4 November 2016
A wonderful film this, spreading itself across probably every 'genre' - Romance, Selfishness, Jealousy, War, Loyalty, Disloyalty, Crime,the list is endless. The casting is PERFECT in all parts, the acting excellent, beautifully photographed by John Toll and with music by James 'Titanic' Horner. Anthony Hopkins is Col.Ludlow .Retrd and his 3 sons, Brad Pitt - Tristan, the middle son, selfish, spoilt and Ludlows favourite.Henry Thomas - Samuel, sensitive and very correct and understanding and Aidan Quinn - Alfred is quieter, respectful and has a sense of dependability about him but is easily upset. The three are bound to each other and it appears nothing will break it until Samuel arrives one day with his faince Susannah played by very pretty Julia Ormond. In order NOT to give away any of the story I will not give details of the plot suffice to say this is a helter - skelter ride of moods. highs and lows throughout. Directed by Edward Zwick - Blood Diamond, Defiance, Shakespeare in Love and what is in my view one of the best American Civil War Films ever made 'Glory'. Highly recommended.
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on 21 October 2000
The first time I saw this film I thought it was the saddest but at the same time most wonderful film I've ever watched. If you've never seen it before, invite some friends around, get a box of tissues and some chocolate and be prepared to cry rivers.
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on 18 July 2009
A masterpiece in its genre, post Indian war frontier films, Montana in that case. A masterpiece too because of the three sons entirely entrusted to their ex-officer of a father because of the running away of the mother who could not stand the cold winters of Montana and was afraid of grizzly bears, that loving friendly species of furry animals more or less the cousins of our home-friendly teddy bears. Then the eldest son goes to the city of his mother to study and comes back with a fiancée, but it is 1914 and the three sons can only follow their patriotic call to go and fight in Europe on the English side. The father is furious but nothing can stop that call of the wild. The picture of the first world war is dramatic when you see these British soldiers running to the German lines with simple rifles and no helmets when the Germans have machine guns, helmets of course and gas masks against their poisonous gases. The eldest son is killed and the youngest son does what an old Indian rite tells him to do. He gets the heart of his brother out and eventually sends it back to his father for it to be buried in due place. Then he gets his Indian colors on his face and goes out to kill and scalp two German machine-gun operators, two of your teeth for one of my teeth. The middle son, wounded on one leg, is sent home and the younger son eventually comes back home. The real stake of the film then is Susanna, the fiancée of the elder son who was killed in the war. She was in love before the departure of the three brothers and still is after the war with the younger son, a wild but thrilling personality. A competition between the two surviving brothers starts then. Susanna chooses the younger one, but his wild side, what the Indian story teller calls his bear side, calls him away and he yields to that call and leaves the ranch for several years in order to discover the world and conquer his thirst, hunger and even his ravenous greed for the unknown and the savage. When he comes back Susanna has gone to the middle brother who has become a congressman in the meantime. The younger son, Justin, then accepts the situation and marries the daughter of the main family working on the ranch, from an Indian mother and an American father. He will get two children from her but he will try to compete with the prohibition traffickers who have the full support of the local sheriff. That will lead to a drama, the death of his wife, then his vengeance as soon as he is out of prison, on bail I suspect, and the attempt of the main moonshiner with the help of the sheriff to come and kill that rebellious man. And there the plot thickens and from dramatic we jump to tragic. And the main character of the story all get the ends they deserve, the middle brother, the younger brother, Susannah, the father and all the others, including the local moonshiner and his police friends. The end of the younger brother, in 1963 mind you, is absolutely brilliant. Add to that very strong story the beautiful and breathtaking landscape and mountains of Montana and you really enjoy every single scene. And after it all, when the last die is thrown on the marble of the tombstone you keep in mind the strong images about the first world war and the no less strong discourse of the father against all kinds of war that are declared bad by principle. Are they really bad by principle? Is there nothing to save a war now and then? For this film certainly not, and that is the fault of the politicians who are ready to do any kind of profitable maneuver to keep their juicy positions in government.

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Versailles Saint Quentin en Yvelines, CEGID
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on 4 June 2017
I borrowed this dvd from a friend, as I had never managed to watch the wlole movie before! I enjoyed it despite the fact that I don't usually go for love stories. The acting was good all round and the cast which includes Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins is superb and manages to make the otherwise difficult to belive main point of the plot believable. Personally, I don't see how one woman could be the object of desire of all the sons in one family despite the isolation the family lived in (she was engaged to the youngest among them who died, fell in love with the rebellious middle one and ended up marrying the eldest one who also seemed to be the most level-headed of the lot) and I had the feeling that most women who happened to find themselves in a similar plight would prefer to distance themselves from sibling rivalry rather than fuel it and make themselves unhappy in the process. That's just me, however, so if you like love stories set in superb scenery, complete with good acting give this film a try.
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on 2 December 2017
In my top 20 of all time! I have at times wondered why I've never seen this film available on blue-ray in the U.K. so when I saw that it was available in region B as a French release I had to get it, and watched it immediately as I had it on VHS then DVD now brilliantly clear like in the cinema where I first saw it, now on blue-ray. The four leading characters put in a thrilling flawless performance in this epic tale that covers many basis (love/loss/politics/wilderness/wildlife/spiritual and more) and a must see if you haven't seen it. I love it as much now as when it was released.
It arrived just days after I ordered it so chuffed at that to.
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