Legend of 1900 (La Leggenda del pianista sull'oceano)
The Legend of 1900 Made in: Italy Language: English Director: Giuseppe Tornatore Starring: Tim Roth, Pruitt Taylor Vince Date: 1998
Synopsis: Born, abandoned, and raised on a transatlantic ocean-liner called the SS Virginian, Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon (Tim Roth), better known as "1900," grows up and spends his entire life at sea. A piano genius, 1900 becomes the eccentric, popular centerpiece of the ship's musical ensemble.
Later he meets and befriends Max Tooney (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a trumpet player who begins performing with the rest of 1900's group. Never having stepped on land, and having no desire to do so, 1900 gains and shares insight on life purely through interactions with the Virginian's passengers.
But after many years and countless transatlantic crossings, the Virginian is eventually due to be scuttled. Suspecting that 1900 is still aboard, Max tries desperately to save his friend. But even in the end, does the piano player still have reason to stay on the ship that has been the only home he's ever known?
The Good: The Legend of 1900 has a fascinating, original premise that's a little far-fetched but well-presented. Tim Roth is great as the lead character, and the decision to cast him gives this foreign film the feel of a hidden gem.
Giuseppe Tornatore is a wonderful observer of people, and collaborating once again with composer Ennio Morricone, this movie is full of touching moments. With a storyline that relies so much on music, Morricone's powerful score definitely delivers (and won a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score).
The best part of this film is 1900's detailed philosophy of the world, garnered only through his interactions and chance encounters with the Virginian's diverse passengers. It's difficult to imagine anyone having lived the life that Roth's character had, yet his worldview and observations seem quite complex and believable.
The Bad: Despite an award-winning production design, some of the visual effects looked mediocre.
Who would like this film: The Legend of 1900 is a great movie to watch if you appreciate music, people-watching, and stories that contemplate the depths of human potential and purpose. Although technically a foreign film, this movie's in English and stars actors who've been in prominent Hollywood films. Therefore, there's not much here that feels foreign at all.
However, it's an entertaining, sentimental, often humorous, and thought-provoking story that will get you thinking about your own life.