The film is anchored by a stellar cast, including Sir Anthony Hopkins at the top of his acting game, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormond and Henry Thomas (Elliott, all grown up from ET). However, it’s a young Brad Pitt in the lead role of the savage and conflicted Tristan who shows the most promise, displaying an impressive range that would go on to define his career as someone much more than just a pretty face.
Edward Zwick is no stranger to the sweeping epic, having directed GLORY and THE LAST SAMURAI. In LEGENDS OF THE FALL, Zwick successfully moves back and forth between scenes large in scope (including a well-done World War I battle) and ones on a more intimate level. The film also constantly sports some absolutely gorgeous, Oscar-winning cinematography, from the lush grandeur of the American west to the gritty battles in of war-torn France.
It’s an exciting film, albeit not the most uplifting one. Filled with the harshness of nature, the cruelties of war, and the bleakest parts of humanity, it is eventful, but still moves at a slow pace; so if you’re one of those people who has a short attention span, this movie might not be for you. And like a lot of epic films, the acting can get overly melodramatic (especially in combination with James Horner’s heartwrenching score), but overall LEGENDS OF THE FALL is a powerful, emotionally affecting movie.
Oh, and the true moral of the film seems to be Don’t f*ck with Brad Pitt. Dude is nasty brutal when he’s been wronged.
Commentary by Edward Zwick and Brad Pitt: Both Zwick and Pitt admit they haven’t watched the movie in a long time, yet that doesn’t stop them from recounting story after story about the shoot. The two have a good rapport together, varying from funny to informative. A surprisingly entertaining commentary.
Commentary by director of photography John Toll and production designer Lilly Kilvert: It’s not the most engaging chat, but they discuss all aspects of the filming, not just within their respective positions, and there isn’t any dead space.
Deleted Scenes: Three cut sequences, about five minutes total, including more of the war and an interesting scene where Tristan is admitted to an insane asylum. Each is available with commentary from director Zwick.
Production Design Featurette (4:40): A quick look at how modern day Vancouver was transformed into turn-of-the-century Montana. Worth a look just to see how much time, effort and planning goes into a single shot of the movie.
Original Featurette (5:58): As you can guess from the lackluster title, this is nothing special. It’s basically just a press kit that sums up the plot and characters, with snippets of interviews added in occasionally.
Isolated Score Highlights: This is pretty cool. You can watch 10 sequences from the movie with all the sound turned off except for the music. James Horner’s score for the film is impressive, and this makes it easier to appreciate the intricacies of it all (without those pesky nuisances like dialogue and sound effects).
There’s also Filmographies and Previews for a couple other Brad Pitt movies.
This new Deluxe Edition DVD has the exact same bonus material as the Special Edition that was released a few years back. The only difference is that the Deluxe comes in a nice slipcase with slightly different cover art, as well as a 22 page booklet. The booklet has some nice artwork and an introduction by Jim Harrison, the author of the novella upon which LEGENDS OF THE FALL was based; however, the majority of the pamphlet is merely biographies of the cast and crew—all information that you can find online (if you don’t already know who Brad Pitt is). In my opinion, you’re better off just getting the cheaper Special Edition.