Through the weekend and into next week we will be spotlighting the best films of a more whimsical decade, the 1980s. You can find the archive of those reviews here. Yvonne relives the evil side of Legend below.
by Yvonne Puig
Ridley Scott’s Legend is not the best movie of the 1980s, and whether it’s the best within its genre is arguable. Labryinth, Princess Bride and Willow are all significant rivals. What makes Legend extraordinary is not galloping unicorns or even a young post-Risky Business Tom Cruise, it is Satan.
To an unbelieving little girl in Texas surrounded by Baptists, the sight of a hoofed Tim Curry—glazed in red, obsidian horns thick as tree trunks protruding from his skull, poised and glorious before a blazing Hellfire—was exhilarating. There was hope after all.
The Lord of Darkness. O the unforgettable Lord of Darkness, his unfolding voice like warm cream poured languidly over velvet. Princess Lily waltzing in his lair is one of those indelible images which still occurs to me at random: the black lipstick, the plunging neckline of her black gown, the whimsical waltz in the nadir of his den.
“What is light without dark?” the Lord of Darkness asks. Indeed, we knew he would not, and could not, succeed. The unicorns were too beautiful. Tom Cruise was too handsome. Darkness would not, in the end, shroud the world. But it would linger, necessary and unspoken.
It’s also important to mention the soundtrack by Tangerine Dream. My father kept Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson cassettes in his car, and then, after Legend, Tangerine Dream. We’d cruise around town drinking Jolt and listening to weird synthesizers. At night, my sister and I would often find him in his chair wearing those puffy 80’s headphones, zoning out to his “space music.”
Listening to the soundtrack now, as I did with my Dad, I’m reminded of how permissible fantasy was in the eighties. Or maybe it’s just that I was a kid, and my whole life was about make-believe. Either way, it was this music that sent me off on my first fancies.
My Dad and I may have been driving down yet another dismal boulevard in Houston, but with Tangerine Dream on the stereo, I was somewhere else altogether. The torpor of Houston simply became mood, a dim background on which to cast bright possibilities. The music sounds dated now, but it taught me the importance of stories.
“Darkness” – Tangerine Dream (mp3)
“Fairies” – Tangerine Dream (mp3)
“Goblins” – Tangerine Dream (mp3)
“Is Your Love Strong Enough” – Tangerine Dream (mp3)
I haven’t asked my Dad what he was thinking about on those drives, or at night in his chair, but I like to assume he was telling himself stories too. Who knows. Twenty years later, my imaginings seem to matter not at all or more than ever.
Says the Lord of Darkness: “The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity.”
Yvonne Puig is the contributing editor to This Recording. Her brand new tumbl is here.
Download the full Legend soundtrack here.
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