Legends Of The Fall

Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) No
Rating Other Trailer(s) 1
Running Time 128 minutes Commentary Tracks None
RSDL/Flipper No/No Other Extras None
Region 4    
Distributor Columbia Tristar    
RRP $34.95    

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English (MPEG 5.1)
English (MPEG 2.0 )
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 1.85:1    
Macrovision Yes    
Subtitles English 

Plot Synopsis

    Legends Of The Fall is an epic drama that spans the lives of the Ludlow family. It is set in the early 1900s, around the time of the First World War. The story is told through the eyes of One-Stab (Gordon Tootoosis), an Indian chieftan.

    Colonel Ludlow (Anthony Hopkins) is a military man who quits the American army as a result of atrocities he sees committed against the American Indian people. He sets up in the middle of the wilderness with his wife, Isabel (Christine Pickles) and his three sons; Alfred (Aidan Quinn), Tristan (Brad Pitt) and Samuel (Henry Thomas). One-Stab, along with several others, lives with them.

    Soon, Isabel Ludlow realizes that the wilderness life is not for her, and she leaves Colonel Ludlow, though they remain fond of each other. Colonel Ludlow is left to raise his boys as best he can on his own. One day, Samuel meets a woman with whom he falls in love, Susannah Fitzgammon (Julia Ormond). He brings Susannah to the family home, and things are very good for a time.

    World War One begins, and the three boys all enlist in the army. Samuel is killed, despite Tristan's best efforts to save him. Tristan sends back Samuel's heart to be buried at home, and then he goes away for a time to deal with his grief. Alfred during this time is at home with Susannah, and he attempts to win her heart, unsuccessfully. Tristan returns, and sweeps Susannah off her feet. Alfred leaves the family home to set up in Helena, a nearby town, in business.

    Tristan becomes more and more unsettled, and finally he leaves Susannah to go wandering the world in an attempt to find himself. Much time passes, and no word is heard from Tristan until one day Susannah receives a brief note from Tristan exhorting her to "Marry another".

    More time passes, and finally Tristan returns to the homestead. We learn that Colonel Ludlow has had a stroke and has lost the ability to speak, and Susannah has married Alfred whilst Tristan was gone. Tristan falls in love with Isabel Two, who was only a girl when he left home, but is now a woman. They marry, and have two children. During this time, Tristan industriously runs a bootlegging operation. He falls foul of other bootleggers, and Isabel Two is killed accidentally in an ambush.

    This leads to two revenge killings by Tristan and by Isabel Two's father, and this then leads us to the climactic end sequence of the movie, where loose ends are tied, and honour is served.

Transfer Quality


    This is a generally very good DVD transfer. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, 16x9 enhanced.

    The movie was razor sharp at all times. Shadow detail was superb with clearly defined shadow detail without a trace of noise.

    The colour is beatifully rendered throughout, and the colour saturation is perfect throughout. The cinematography of this movie is breathtaking to behold with gorgeous wilderness vistas to feast your eyes on.

    One very minor MPEG artefact was seen at 78:58-78:59 involving the roof of the homestead which breaks up ever so slightly during the slow pan downwards. There were a great deal of very irritating print artefacts seen throughout this movie, both black and white flecks. None were particularly large, and none were particularly bad, but there was far more of them than I am used to seeing, especially in a Columbia Tristar DVD. I found myself quite distracted by their frequency. There were less of them in the latter part of the movie than at the start of the movie. They marred a transfer that was otherwise pretty much perfect in every way.


    There are several audio tracks on this DVD. The default audio is MPEG 2.0 channel, surround encoded. Also present are a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack (which I listened to) and an MPEG 5.1 soundtrack, all in English.

    Dialogue was almost always clear and completely intelligible. One or twice, the music slightly overpowered the dialogue momentarily, but this did not occur often, and was only a very minor issue.

    The musical score was by James Horner (who also scored Titanic) and was suitably dramatic and enveloping. Almost the entire movie is underscored, which enhanced the sweeping visuals of the movie.

    The surround channels were almost continually used, and were very well used to create an enveloping soundfield. Music and ambient sound effects were present during the majority of the movie, and they served to pull you into the on-screen action. Split surrounds were used with good effect, such that ambient sound effects (dogs barking, horses whinnying) could be heard all around you and were at times localizable to the left or right rear.

    The war scenes were suitably impressive, with realistic explosions that you could feel as well as hear, and gunfire and shouting and mayhem coming from all directions.

    The .1 channel was used well on this soundtrack, both to underpin the music and to anchor the explosions and gunshots, particularly in the war scenes.


    There are no extras on this disc except for the standard Columbia Tristar teaser trailer, which on this disc was presented non-16:9 enhanced and with only an MPEG 2.0 soundtrack.


    Legends Of The Fall is a superb movie. The cinematography is magnificent, the music is beautiful to listen to, and the story is very interesting and well worth watching again and again. The acting, particularly Anthony Hopkins', is excellent, and the main and supporting characters are all complex and three dimensional, so that you are able to empathise with and understand them and their motivations. None of them are stereotypical characters in the least.

    The video quality is top notch, except for the unfortunate frequency of film artefacts, which detracts from what would have otherwise been a reference quality DVD.

    The audio quality is marvellous, with an excellent three dimensional soundfield being created.

Ratings (out of 5)

Extras nil

Michael Demtschyna
25th September 1998

Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer