Legends Of The Fall

“Legends Of The Fall” follows in the tradition of classical romance in its depiction of forbidden love. It is also about family and forgiveness themes which almost anyone can relate to. While the success of the film can be attributed to its big budget and star powered cast of actors and actresses it is the relatability of the themes that make this movie a success.

The Story

The main character in the story Tristan is the stereotypical Adlerian middle child and stands in sharp contrast with his cultured and responsible siblings. He is loved greatly by his father in spite of his wild ways. When the boys go off to war their father is devastated and rightly so as his youngest son Samuel never makes it home. Alfred, the oldest falls in love with Samuels’s widow but his feelings are not returned. She becomes lovers with Tristan which drives the brothers apart. Tristan is tormented by his brother’s death and is unable to come to terms with it in spite of traveling extensively and living recklessly to assuage his guilt.

Who doesn’t love a tragedy?

The film depiction starring Brad Pitt received numerous accolades including three nominations for Academy Awards and one win for Best Cinematography. The films success begs the question why do we love sad endings? Tristan and Susannah do not end up together and Alfred’s love is never returned. On some level the film resonates because the happy ending is in reality a myth. This truth has the potential to be quite freeing because instead of chasing after what never will be we are encouraged to live for whatever happiness we can find at the moment. A lesson that Susannah did not learn, she pined away for an emotionally unavailable Tristan until her tragic suicide.

The greatest lesson form this story came during the final moments when Tristan is faced by his arch nemesis, the bear. He was face to face with the animal and decides to stand his ground and fight. While there is some question whether this was a smart or sane decision given the size disparity it speaks volumes about his state of mind. Instead of running as he had done in the past he decided that one way or another it would end there. In life there are times when a problem cannot be avoided but must be faced dead on.