The Legend of 1900 (1998)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Period Film  |   Release Date - Oct 29, 1999 (USA)  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - Italy   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Self-described as "A Fable by Giuseppe Tornatore," The Legend of 1900 announces its intentions to play with the conventions of realistic storytelling from the start. Fine, but then give us a central character who's more than a cipher, a central conceit (he never sets foot on land) with more understandable motivation, and a man whose one moment of temptation is all too predictably offered by a young woman who's even more of a cipher than he is. Ravishing to look at and lovingly scored by Ennio Morricone, the film is really not hard to sit through, and you may find yourself wondering from time to time if the original cut, at 45 minutes longer, would actually make 1900 a more interesting person and dramatize his dilemma more persuasively. Tim Roth is a skilled actor, but he's not given much to work with here, and once his stepfather, played with relish by Bill Nunn, is out of the picture, there isn't much to hang on to. Pruitt Taylor Vince, a fine character actor, seems miscast as 1900's pal and the story's narrator; he comes off as distracted and irritated rather than captivated by 1900's alleged charisma. Most fables are brief and punchy; this one comes on as overblown as its ocean-liner setting.