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Film: Legend

Legend is a 1985 film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Tom Cruise, Mia Sara, Tim Curry, and Tim Curry's massive pair of horns. It is part of The Eighties fantasy boom in film, sharing many of the same elements as its contemporaries.

The Lord of Darkness plots to cover the world in eternal night. He sends his servant, the goblin Blix, to kill the light-bringing unicorns and take their horns. The unicorns only appear before the pure of heart, so a lure must be used. Enter Jack and Princess Lily, pure denizens of the forest. When the stallion is killed, Jack and Lily are separated as snowstorms envelop the world. She and the mare are captured by the forces of Darkness, and he must band together with the woodland fairies to rescue her.


Legend provides examples of the following tropes:

  • All Just a Dream: At least, Lily thinks so when she wakes up at the end of the Director's Cut, and Jack doesn't confirm or deny it. She doesn't get to see Jack waving goodbye to the elves and unicorns after she's left. The theatrical edition changes the ending completely, and she sees them together with Jack.
  • As Long as There Is Evil: "Big D" tries to invoke this, presumably to convince Jack not to kill him. This is likely true, however, see The End... Or Is It? below.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Lily's "Bride of Darkness" outfit.
  • Annoying Arrows: Darkness takes a few from Gump and Jack and he doesn't even slow down.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: The goblins feel this way. Blix compares Lily unfavorably to rotting meat (he'd prefer the latter), and the goblins also refer to the unicorns as "ugly one-horned mules."
  • Ball of Light Transformation: The fairy Oona can change into a small ball of light and fly around. She does so in Darkness' dungeon to escape a prison cell and obtain the key to the cell.
  • Big Bad: Darkness himself.
  • Bigger Bad: We never get any details, but Darkness calls out for his father in desperation at the moment of his defeat.
  • Big Ol' Unibrow: Darkness has one.
  • Big Red Devil: Darkness, aka Tim Curry.
  • Black and White Morality: The heroes are an innocent Princess Classic with Virgin Power and a group of forest inhabitants trying to protect the sacred unicorns who make life possible. The villain Darkness is a demonic Evil Overlord who rules over an army of evil goblins and cannibalistic pig-men executioners and wants to create an eternal night to bring about the end of the world.
  • Blow Gun: Blix uses one to fire a poisoned dart into a unicorn and kill it so he can cut off its horn.
  • Character Tic: Jack crouching on his heels, which emphasizes his wildness.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Darkness is advised to "woo" Lily.
  • Dancing Pants: The dark dress.
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: Worn by Jack. His costume consists of a short tunic and no pants. Even after he's given armor when he begins the quest to rescue Lily and the last unicorn, there's still no pants.
  • Dark Is Evil: The demonic villain Darkness is a personification of the concept and wants to extinguish all life so he can subsist in the dead icebound world..
  • Disney Villain Death: Subverted with Blunder, who appears to fall to his death but later appears unharmed.
  • Distracted by the Luxury: Whilst running around Darkness's lair in a complete panic, Lily is briefly lulled into calm by the sight of a giant diamond necklace.
  • Distressed Damsel: Lily.
  • Eats Babies: Blunder contemplates eating a human baby in its crib. This oddly horrifies his fellow goblin, Pox.
    Blunder: I simply adore milk-fed meat!
    Pox: What are ya, some kind of animal?
  • The End... Or Is It?: At the end of the U.S. version, Darkness (who was apparently destroyed earlier) is shown laughing.
  • Engagement Challenge: At first not particularly difficult—dive into a small pond and find the ring the princess threw there. Becomes much harder after the death of one unicorn freezes everything over in eternal winter. Later linked, somehow, to True Love's Kiss after the horn is restored and the pond thaws.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Lily in the Bride of Darkness outfit, black lipstick and stylized tear stains included.
  • Evil Is Hammy: It's Tim Curry as the big red devil himself, what else can be expected?
  • Evil Laugh: Both Darkness and Meg Mucklebones.
  • Evil Overlord: Darkness.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Darkness, courtesy of Tim Curry.
  • Exact Eavesdropping
  • Exploring the Evil Lair: Jack and his friends enter Darkness' lair to rescue Lilly and the unicorn.
  • Exposition of Immortality: Darkness, during the ending fight with Jack, boasts about how he's been here since the beginning, because there's no Light without Darkness.
  • The Fair Folk: Even when the world is in peril, Gump tests Jack with a riddle before deciding to help him, when he finds out that he took Lily to see the unicorns. In a deleted scene he even forces Jack to dance with his magic fiddle before asking the riddle.
  • Fairy Companion: Oona.
  • Foreshadowing
    • Darkness twice says "Sunshine is my destroyer." Guess how the good guys defeat him at the climax?
    • Lily seeing Nell's clock frost over, a warning of the winter that occurs when a unicorn is killed and its horn is cut off.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Jack.
  • Gluttonous Pig: The pig-like goblin Pox wants to use the unicorn's magical horn to "turn everything into garbage, a great towering mountain of slop" for him to eat.
  • Hidden Depths: Lily. And yes, they are hidden pretty deep.
  • Hollywood Torches: Both the goblins and Jack have one at some point.
  • Horn Attack: Subverted when Darkness charges Jack with his horns foremost as though he's planning on piercing him with them, but ends up with the horns touching a wall with Jack trapped between them.
  • Horned Humanoid: Guess who.
  • I Am A Humanitarian: Not only do prisoners in Darkness' lair get cooked and eaten, we also have Meg Mucklebones who thinks Jack is a "juicy boy." Then there's the goblins. Blunder contemplates eating a baby, and then he and Pox discuss how they want to eat Lily's brains and bones.
  • I'm Not Hungry
  • Large Ham:
    • Large Deviled Ham: the Lord of Darkness.
    • Small Elven-Ham: Gump. "Do you think you can upset the order of the universe, and not pay the PRICE?!?" In the Director's Cut Gump throws a massive hissy fit after Jack solves his riddle.
  • Last of His Kind: The female unicorn, for a little while.
  • Larynx Dissonance: Gump's voice is notably more restrained than his acting. See Large Ham.
  • Light and Mirrors Puzzle: The heroes must reflect a beam of sunshine all the way down to the bottom of hell.
  • Made of Evil: Darkness is literally made of darkness, portrayed as the equivalent of evil. He's quite literaly the devil and wants to bring about an eternal night (even though it means the end of the world) because he needs it to thrive. Before his ultimate defeat he also taunts the hero that darkness can't exist without him.
  • Meaningful Echo: "I trust you, Lily."
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Gump.
  • Mook-Face Turn: Blunder (who was a disguised elf all along, anyway)
  • Must Make Amends: Lily touches one of the unicorns, making it vulnerable to attack and leading to its death. She tracks down the other unicorn and finds Brown Tom guarding it.
    Brown Tom: You! You're the cause of all our sorrow.
    Lily: I'm — I'm so sorry. I didn't know. Please, please forgive me.
    Brown Tom: I'm not the one you should be askin'.
    Lily: Try and understand. I'm only trying to make things right. Darkness has sent the goblins back for the mare. It's not safe to stay here. You'll have to hurry! Leave now! Go!
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Lily realizes her actions have caused a unicorn to die. It gets better.
  • Nature Hero/Wild Child: Jack. He's not given a lot of context.
  • Nostalgia Filter: While there was nothing inherently wrong with the Jerry Goldsmith soundtrack, many of the fans who saw the American cut first found nothing wholly remarkable about it either. Most fans seem to appear attached to the American cut due to the Tangerine Dream soundtrack which they felt made the film memorable.
  • Neck Lift: Done by Darkness to Jack, but by grabbing his face.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The Big Bad Lord of Darkness is attempting to bring this trope about by killing the world's unicorns (the source of the world's light.)
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Jack.
  • Pig Man: Pox. One is also seen in the dungeons.
  • Playing with Fire: Darkness has fire-based powers, and the unicorn horn can cause and throw fire.
  • Princess Classic: Princess Lili starts out as a quintessential princess classic, only to go through a Break the Cutie process, accumulating in an intense case of Corrupt the Cutie, only for this to be revealed as a ruse she put on in order to trick Darkness into letting her get close enough to free a captured unicorn.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Blix, Blunder and Pox.
  • Rebellious Princess: Lily is this to a certain extent. It's implied that she frequently sneaks off into the woods to visit friends, one of whom even comments that she should be back at the palace and not hanging out with poor folks like them.
  • Re Cut: The American version released in 1986 was about 25 minutes shorter than the Director's Cut and five minutes shorter than the European version. Many scenes and shots were dropped, reordered, and added; in addition it had an entirely new music score by Tangerine Dream (plus two pop songs) substituting for Jerry Goldsmith's original score, which was retained for European release (not the first time his music was meddled with in a Creator/RidleyScott film, but the last - they never worked together again). The Director's Cut became legally available with the 2002 DVD release. Details are here. According to Scott's introductory note on the Blu-Ray edition, it was believed lost until an answer print was found in 2000.
  • Redubbing
    • In English, the voice of Gump was done by the same actress who played Blix; in German, he voiced both.
    • In fact, all of the forest scenes had to be dubbed over in post-production because the noise on the set was so loud, according to Mia Sara on the Ultimate Edition DVD.
  • Red Right Hand: Blunder has a chicken foot for a left hand (explained in a deleted scene).
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Blix. It seems that all of the goblins' dialogue (and possibly Darkness') was originally intended to be in rhyme, but this was toned down in the finished movie.
  • Riddle Me This: "What is a bell that never rings, yet its knell makes the angels sing?" The answer is silver bells, the flower.
  • Rump Roast: Blix uses the unicorn horn to set Blunder's butt on fire.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: While the protagonists are trapped in Darkness' jail, the fairy Oona tries to get Jack to kiss her by creating an illusion that she's Jack's girlfriend Lili.
  • Sic 'em: When Darkness first summons Blix he tells him to find and destroy the unicorns.
  • Table Space
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: In this case a unicorn horn, but the same principle.
  • The Time of Myths
  • True Love's Kiss: Jack does this to wake Lily.
  • Ultimate Evil: The disembodied voice that helps Darkness seduce Lily, presumably the being he calls Father.
  • Unicorn
  • Unicorns Are Sacred: Killing the last two unicorns that guard the power of light would allow the demon lord to roam the world free in darkness. Also, Darkness shows just how evil he is by ordering a unicorn's horn to be cut off, which causes the world to freeze over.
  • Virginity Makes You Stupid
  • Virgin Power: Lily's "innocence" allows her to approach the unicorns.
  • Weakened by the Light: "The sunshine is my destroyer!"
  • What Is This Thing You Call Love?: The Lord of Darkness is "distracted" by the captured princess's beauty and innocence and advised by his mysterious 'father' to woo her into temptation. There follows probably the best (and most eloquently written) scene in the film, where the devil's seduction rather backfires when the newly-darkened Princess plays His Lovesick Evilness like a two string harp. note 
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nell and her family. Last seen flash-frozen in their house, they're completely forgotten about at the end of the story (even in the script!). Also, Blix and Pox just disappear about halfway through the movie, despite having had an important role until then.
    • Blix and Pox were reportedly cut half way through filming due to budget problems following the loss of most of the sets due to a studio fire. More scenes with Nell and her family may have been cut for the same reason.
  • Woman Scorned: Oona, although she shows her quality by not allowing it to dissuade her from doing her part to stop Darkness.
  • World Limited to the Plot: This film is set entirely in the magic forest and Darkness' castle with no references to the world outside. Nor has there been, interestingly enough, any serious fan attempts at World Building probably due to observing the "if it aint broke.." rule.

The Last AirbenderFantasy FilmsLegend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
The Last DragonFilms of the 1980sThe Legend of Billie Jean
Going NativeImageSource/Live-Action FilmsTropes of Legend

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