LEGEND : Ridley Scott

(The Remnants of a Masterpiece?)

by Matthew Aitken

From Riches to Rags:

In the beginning there was a masterpiece: the director's dream. Now only fragments remain of what could truly have been a legend in its own right. It seems Ridley Scott's 1985 release has been forced to suffer the injustice of more hack-and-slash alteration than any other film before it. From the soundtrack, to the dialogue, to the image, this barbaric commercial engine we call the film industry has ultimately tarnished the purity of a vision that could have been released to fly free, to soar on the wings of a true artist's imagination.

What was once the carefully crafted two-hour wonder of the director's "first edit", now exists in three tattered and torn official cuts: the American version, the European version, and the "Television" version (not one longer than 94minutes). Each has within it some dim reflection of the unharnessed power the original picture possessed, but none do justice to the creator's initial intention, leaving his dream bare and bedraggled, another victim of the "Hollywood Moneygobbler".

But enough of this over-stated, blubbering fanatic's epitaph to a great film. The question is, "Can anything be salvaged from the remnants of such a would-be masterpiece?" Is there something in tact, unharmed, buried amongst the rubble of this fallen Giant? Can something be found at the core of this film that has survived the onslaught of another ruthless, commercial assault?

Reduced to Discontinuous Rubble:

Even at the first viewing there is something not quite right about the verbal and diagetic interaction provided by the editing, and after watching any version of the film two or three times there is an indisputably strong sense that there is something missing. One glance at William Hjortsberg's original screenplay makes it all a great deal clearer. Vast chunks of the story have been hacked away from the 121 page second draft, which was revised by the 10th March 1984 before shooting commenced, leaving the continuity of what is left shaky at best.

Moments such as the scene in the woods when Lili first meets Jack have an awkward feel to them where dialogue does not flow naturally due to previous shots being cut out. For example Lili's line, "You're so clever." Doesn't scan comfortably because there should be a shot before it of Jack "talking" with the bird that now merely alights on his shoulder. This degrades the dialogue and thus the characters, and perhaps more importantly detracts from the build up of audience anticipation by the commendable camera work that precedes it.

Constrictive close-ups of Lili as she calls for Jack hinder the audience's vision of her surroundings, giving the shots a claustrophobic air. Twinned with the added knowledge that Blix and his goblins are in the forest (played on by shots that "watch" Lili from behind dark branches) this barrage of well-constructed shots causes the tension to mount. The increasing momentum of the scene is broken only after a poetically executed shot where Lili spins around in fear and confusion and the camera counter-spins, composing a brilliantly involving effect, demanding audience Engagement. It is therefore a dissatisfactory anticlimax when the next scene, instead of bursting the audience's suspense with fluid nonchalance, jars slightly and fails to entirely make sense.

There are countless other examples of missing moments, from single shots to complete scenes, and thus it is mightily disappointing that no Director's Cut has ever been officially released in order to restore this marred production to its intended, former glory. However, no one could deny that the film is still coherent, if a little wobbly in places, and in its defence, there are still one or two moments where whole scenes have survived undamaged, and the original edits remain. Despite the level of irreparable damage that the picture has sustained, leaving its overall effect somewhat ragged, a more detailed look at each specific scene uncovers the master craftsmanship that continues to support the film even in the face of such disrepair. A rigorous examination reveals beneath the debris, a beautifully knit together embroidery of technical and artistic genius.

The Remnants of a Masterpiece:

No well-produced film relies on any one individual component to inject emotive atmosphere and meaning into the picture, but is instead a complementary (or alternatively contradictory) conglomeration of several such parts. It is only by the skilful interweaving of these many factors that the film's "essence" is born. Although Ridley Scott's "Legend", in the form(s) of its official release(s) is a flawed product, the editing that has caused this sorry fault is only one solitary constituent from a myriad of fractions that compile this purposefully designed construct. Every other facet of the film strives in melodious harmony to erect a structure of profound integrity.

The use of montage is not least among these worthy components, and is used to great effect throughout. The most startling of these dramatic sequences is the first major turning point in the film where the unicorn dies and winter falls as Jack simultaneously dives from a cliff into the pool below to find Lili's ring and win her hand in marriage. Although one shot has been removed, where the audience watch in horror with Lili as the water freezes over, trapping Jack beneath the surface of the pond, the scene remains essentially strong, and the climatic build up traps the viewer in the momentum of the event.

Snow in the air surrounding the distressed princess cuts to pink blossom filling the screen as the fleeing unicorn is caught. Quickly inter-spliced with the third strand, of Jack swimming in a world of bubbles, these threads provide an inescapable mounting tension that eventually peaks in an explosive release. The "alicorn" (the unicorn's horn) is hacked of by Blix, as Jack simultaneously manages, with some effort, to punch a hole in the ice, resurfacing with a voluminous gasp which the audience need no invitation to share.

Another powerful moment that the viewer is forcefully involved in is the scene in which Princess Lili, prisoner to the evil Darkness, meets her captor as he steps through a mirror she is looking into. The princess understandably faints, and again the masterful use of montage provides an impressive depth of reality to the moment as she reawakens to find herself face to face with Darkness, who is kneeling over her in an uncomfortably sexual pose. By the simple use of quickly inter-cut close-ups of the two character's faces, capturing Darkness' daemonic visage, and Lili's terror, the viewer cannot help but share her dreadful experience of abject fear and horror.

It is a pleasant change from a good number of more "popular" films to see Scott's almost casual use of fairly frequent facial close-ups to depict characters' emotions, and it is a tribute to the actors that these shots work so well, neither appearing contrived nor overplayed. There are one or two instants where such shots have been extended to cover up mismatched editing of another character's dialogue, thus giving an exaggerated feel to the moment, but this is not the fault of anyone but the studio executive who demanded such impossible cuts to be made. The acting is outstanding, and allows access to the characters despite the quantity of script that has been eliminated, thus enabling a closer examination of the film's more profound content.

A Darker Shade of Fairytale:

"Legend" is undeniably a fairytale film. Scott openly confesses to the influence of Disney on various aspects of the picture. Ranging from the characters of some of the faerie folk through to certain portions of the plot itself, the film displays some of the magic and mischief typical of Disney productions. However, there is a very sinister "evil streak" running throughout this film that sets it apart from so many other fairytale stories of princesses and heroes, and the ultimate battle between good and evil.

"Legend" cunningly creates a delicate balance between the sinister, and the "sweetness and light" elements within it, by use of the thoughtful manipulation of all available resources: lighting, sound, set design, montage, costume... For example, the setting of a forest immediately offers the opportunity to effectively contrast unspeakable beauty with a dark, ominous uncertainty. It is not solely the utilisation of these attributes that sets the film apart from others in the genre however. In fact, on the contrary, it is from the use of generic stereotypes like this that the film is able to derive such powerful effect in creating an evil that is more real than the good.

Moments such as the scene where Princess Lili sings to the unicorns are so terribly clichÈd that Scott ingeniously causes the "beauty" of the scene to lapse into a somewhat removed sur-reality. It is perfectly reasonable for a pure and innocent princess to enchant a unicorn with her angelic voice within a fairytale. Equally, our hero Jack, who lives in the forest and talks to the animals, seems altogether at home in this fantastical world. Thus the audience are subtly persuaded to find the evil figure of Darkness all the more real, because he is not just a character born of magical myth and Celtic folklore. He embodies the "text book" form of Satan, the seldom-mentioned "angel of death" whose existence in reality has fearfully never been disproved, and thus is an all-the-more terrifying character.

His role within the film also seems darker than that of most evil protagonists, and even though he is defeated like all the rest, his words are left to echo in the viewer's ears long after he has gone,

"You think you have won. What is light without dark? I am a part of you all. You can never defeat me. We are brothers eternal."

This particular fairytale is not just a straightforward battle with the definitive happy ending. Ridley Scott's approach to this alleged fantasy has a definite bite to it that stings, and you can't help wondering whether he isn't trying to say something in the midst of all this mystical mayhem!

Skin-tight Special Effects:

The costume department has never really been involved in special effects unless it's been a matter concerning Bond's stunt double bursting into flames and hurling himself into a rather fortuitously placed swimming pool. However, it is unquestionably Charles Knode and his most talented group of specialists that have indisputably provided the most stunning costume special effects a film could ask for. A fantasy world requires fantasy figures to live in it, but the problem is how to make a fantasy look real.

From leprechaun to goblin, and from faerie to daemon, one thing "Legend" cannot be criticised for is its outstanding display of costumes. Brown Tom and Screwball, Gump's impish friends, have imaginative attire and seriously convincing make-up. Who would have thought it possible to create such large noses that still appear so life-like?! Both the dress and the behaviour of Scott's small folk, good and evil alike, is certainly the aspect of the film most reminiscent of Disney. The goblins in particular, showing the familiar signs of an almost comic, mischievous nature even in their appearance, the most obvious example being the cartoonish, pig-like face of Pox.

By making these henchmen of Darkness laughable to a certain degree, Scott ensures that Darkness be kept exclusively horrific, and far removed from their petty minded trickery. The rhythm to their speech and movement keep them safe, along with the princess and her champion, in the world of make believe. Their language is gross as opposed to the sinister utterances of their master, and the rhyming delivery of their lines ensures that they are looked upon as slightly farcical;

"Maybe innocent, maybe sweet. Ain't half as nice as rotting meat!"

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of any of the goblins is that of Blix's relationship with Darkness, which while being wholly based in fear, also leaves plenty of room for wicked trickery. A most agreeable contract provided that the permanence of it is not a problem. (See Footnote #1)

It is of no surprise that the small goblin fears him for truly, Darkness is a deeply alarming figure. The life-like, moist, red skin of his costume is a little too real for the audience's comfort, and the emotions that move across his face, apparently unhindered by the mounds of make-up, as real as the countenance itself seems to be. The gigantic horns that thrust out from his head, curling in powerful twists, are a tribute to the painstaking lengths that have been gone to in order to create such dazzling, or perhaps more aptly, appalling, guises. When contemplating the man (Tim Curry) behind the Daemon Overlord you have to wonder whether he didn't have to do some serious weight training for his neck muscles to support such a weight!

It is a shame that the small number of "special" effects that are used in addition to the costumes are not of such a high standard. A wobbling horn precariously attached to a horse's head deeply undermines the illusion of a unicorn. Equally, a bright, dancing spark can only do so much to represent a faerie when the string to which it is attached can be seen from time to time. Having said all that, nobody's perfect, and for a film made in 1985, Darkness has some suitably effective fire spurting from his fingertips.

One of the freshest aspects to the film is that of the audio effects used on some of the characters' voices, Darkness and Blix being the most obvious examples, and indeed the most effective. So often innovative costumes are found ineffective because they lack the audio imagination to match the visual creativity. In "Legend" however, much thought has gone into both elements of the characters' appearances, and the result is a great success.

Darkness' deep, cavernous voice, booms with reverb in even his quietest speech, and the quantity of certain effects added to the dry sound alter considerately with the mood and volume of his vocal deliveries. This is apparent in the extreme when he commands Lili to sit with him at his table, in a daemonic voice born of technical expertise. Blix's voice is less startling, but almost as effective, and well-matched to his snivelling attitude to his master. Both add to the magic of the film enormously, helping to captivate the audience with this carefully designed world of mystery.

Discord in the Musical Manufacturing:

It is not the wile behind the creation of individual characters' voices, and the carefully layered carpets of background sound alone, which provide this film with its multi-facetted sound-scape. Above and beyond all else is the music, not only in the typical film sense of providing a dramatic underscore, but in this case to provide an accompaniment to share the foreground with the images. Following Scott's glowing reaction to Goldsmith's musical contribution in the earlier production of "Alien", they agreed on an up-front musical score. In the words of Ridley Scott himself,

"I hate it when people say, 'you shouldn't notice the score', You should notice the score, and the score, if it's doing if its doing its job, will lift and elevate the movie."

The finished score was originally over 80 minutes long, and Scott described it as, "exactly what was required". Indeed Goldsmith himself described his score at the time as, "one of the best soundtracks I've ever done", and years later he stated categorically, "Legend is my favourite score". It is thus even sadder that, along with forcing the masterpiece to its knees due to a fatal shortening of thirty minutes, Universal Studio executive Sidney Sheinberg demanded a re-dub of the music soundtrack in order to commercialise the film and promote the picture to a teenage audience (who were currently wrapped in John Hughes' works such as "The Breakfast Club").

Thus it was that the German synthesiser band, Tangerine Dream, were called in to create an alternative score. The most obvious chasmic difference between Goldsmith's version and that of Tangerine Dream is that Jeff Goldsmith sought to create a musical harmony for "Legend's images, rather than simply write a film score. Where one was stylistically homogenous to the film itself, the other betrayed itself by its rigid separation. Tangerine Dream approached a story that is intrinsically based on Western European folklore, with an electronic score noticeably influenced by Eastern music, and Eastern philosophy too. This jars against both the visual and spiritual elements of the film, and has done nothing to increase its popularity. In fact, ironically, there seems to be a unanimous feeling that Goldsmith's score was unquestionably the superior of the two in all respects.

Legend's roots were organic, pastoral and aesthetic, and Jeff Goldsmith's music respected, and in fact mirrored, these foundations. His classical impressionist approach to the score provided a naturalistic style that complemented the traditional folklore influences while at the same time he harmoniously injected an unfamiliar, spiritual air to the music. Despite the use of synthesizers by both artists, Goldsmith also made careful use of a full symphony orchestra, which resulted in a musical tapestry that intricately intermingled with Scott's organically rooted images. In the same way as Scott was stirred by the French Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast", Goldsmith was moved by compatible French composers, namely Debussy, and in particular Ravel. In fact Goldsmith has himself confessed that the hypnotic waltz which seduces Lili inside the Great Tree, "was definitely influenced by [Ravel's] "La Valse."

Tangerine Dream provided the desired commercial effect for the film's music by withholding any strong emotional factor from their score. It is therefore highly ironic, by comparison with Goldsmith's emotive romantic themes, that despite the powerful emotion of his music, it is this original score that is nevertheless the subtler of the two. Tangerine Dream's touch is sometimes over-simplistic and too direct, demanding the audience's attention in a heavy-handed manner or alternatively not supporting certain scenes of dramatic intensity with sufficient "movement".

Goldsmith's contribution boasted character motifs within the score: sub-themes, subtly describing the presence of active participants in each moment of the film from scene to scene. For example in the opening scene, invading the soft, mystical chords of the peaceful moonlit forest, there is the erratic sound of the goblin motif, imminent danger, simultaneously cutting in and then out again in unison with the shadowy images of Blix. The German group offered no substitute for this intricate design, but by contrast their music remained detached and aloof, providing inadequate support for the characters in the light of such a superior predecessor. Tangerine Dream also failed to provide the integral tone of organic sound, as a result of their exclusively electronic equipment, as well as lacking the broadness of timbre that the film needed, and Goldsmith's score provided by inclusion of a complete orchestral arrangement.

All this said, the American version (which contains the Tangerine Dream score) does not suffer the degrading contents of any of the songs sung by Lili which are detrimentally present in the European version. It also has a pleasant addition to the score (against the wishes of T.D.) in the form of a song by Jon Anderson of Yes and another by Brian Ferry. It is interesting to note that in apparent antagonism of the Eastern influence audible in parts of the Tangerine Dream score, some of these additional lyrics include religious allusions more befitting to the rest of the film. There is some ambiguous reference to the essential life-giving roll of the sun/son in the music track during the end credits which makes a perfectly competent job of replacing the intended Goldsmith theme. It also goes some way to supporting the theory that the spiritual element of the film has definite Christian connotations.

There is one definitive bonus that has been the reward of this controversial and damaging issue of musicianship that must not be ignored. This strange course of events has led to the unique opportunity of being able to observe and study one film with two completely different soundtracks, and has provided a number of noteworthy results. Goldsmith's score proves beyond doubt that when music is thoughtfully written, to specifically complement the images of a film, shot by shot, it holds immense power with which the film is brought to life. At the other extreme, the Tangerine Dream score paradoxically strikes a resounding blow for artistic integrity in the eternal battle against financial motivation, showing that popular commercial music tacked onto the wrong film can be heavily detrimental to the picture.

Enlightened Utilisation of Luminary Utilities:

Apart from the fact that lighting is irrefutably an integral part of any production, it seems fair to say that films intensely concerned with the battle between good and evil merit an opportunity for the most effective use of this expansive technical area. That is not to say that all such productions do justice to such potential, but in the case of Ridley Scott's "Legend" this vital component of the film is manipulated skilfully to its maximum effect.

The opening shot presents a beautiful and concise metaphor for the film's purpose. Shafts of piercing blue moonlight beam down through the dark branches of a shadowy forest, symbolising the battle between the two elements that is soon to take place, and indeed, goes on perpetually in even the quietest, most peaceful corner of nature. The entire opening title sequence highlights the spiritual essence of these two incompatible enemies. The music is soft and magical, and the moonlight is so bright and direct as to create an ethereal atmosphere, yet the essential sense of reality is carefully preserved, undamaged. Thus, before anything has taken place, Scott has already laid down the fundamental spiritual nature of the film in one carefully constructed shot: powerful mis-en-scene.

It is to his credit that Scott has tackled this issue so blatantly, ensuring that it is not buried in profound subtext or overpowering symbolism. For though he utilises the very finest degree of expression in the meticulous preparation of every shot, he does not hide the meaning of the film in such widely inaccessible depths, but deliberately and unambiguously articulates his intentions in the opening lines as Darkness declares,

"I am the Lord of Darkness. I require the solace of the shadows and the dark of the night. Sunlight is my destroyer."

Having thus firmly embedded the foundations of the film in this symbolic battle between darkness and light, there is no room for misinterpreting what is at the core of the film's meaning. Hence the more subtle play on the use of light and shadow within each scene is made more widely available for even the least analytical viewer to appreciate.

In order to make absolutely certain that this point is understood, directly following Darkness' initial sinister utterance in his shadowy den within the Great Tree, the montage provides a dazzling and poignant contrast that cannot be missed. Sharing the tenebrious crepuscularity of Darkness' abode in one instant, we are transported in the next to the radiance of a bright summer's day where we are blinded by a psychedelic array of colour and divine beauty. Rainbows of light sweep across the captive lens in gentle arcs of resplendent brilliance as princess Lili skips down the flower strewn paths of this enchanted forest. This inspirational use of the camera to add to this already captivating moment subconsciously draws the viewer deeper into the scene by making such a fairytale environment suddenly seem more real. The presence of the camera rather than detracting from the reality of the situation, witnesses to the fact that what it is seeing is in fact really happening. The relevance of details such as how is lost in the magic of the moment.

Another equally masterful use of this powerfully expressionate tool is found in the sequence where the captive Lili falls foul of Darkness' hypnotic seduction. A masked dancer dressed all in black waltzes around the terrified princess, and slowly, as the shadows of the dancer's fingers play across her frightened visage, Lili is drawn into the rhythm. This first vision of the mysterious dancer's artful invitation deftly portrays the spiritual temptation beckoning Lili into Darkness' trap, the shadowy fingers clawing across her face representing his seductive power tugging mesmerically at her mind. The next shot insinuates a physical dimension to the temptation as the dancing figure, out of focus in the near foreground, moves rhythmically across the frame, obscuring and then revealing Lili's enraptured face behind it, persistently assailing her with unrelenting persuasion, until finally she surrenders.

Visibility of Spirituality:

It is arguably these efficacious visual metaphors that are Ridley Scott's most ingenious design, interwoven within the fundamental fabric of the film. Through such influential imagery he asserts a strong sense of the spiritual dimension within the physical world in which the story takes place. One simple yet effective way in which he accomplishes this is by making what is usually invisible, visible. Throughout the film, on numerous occasions, the air is filled with visible matter, the effect of which is create an apparent fullness to what is often considered essentially empty. In filling every square inch of air with bubbles or blossom etc, this once invisible medium springs to life. Given the spiritual content of the film this is an unmistakable pointer to the fact that the spiritual dimension within which we dwell, like air, is not necessarily absent, as some believe, just because we cannot see it.

Another moment at which this "unseen" issue is tackled is when Jack makes his peace with the surviving unicorn. The two have some form of conversation, communicating without words, but specifically enlightening enough for Jack to understand what has been "said" about what has happened and what must be done about it. In this case there is no trace of sound as opposed to images, but the message is the same: there is a spiritual essence that reaches beyond sight and sound, but not beyond interactive communicative comprehension. This unspoken approach that Jack displays in the presence of the unicorn mare, the creator (see Footnote #2), especially considering other factors relevant to their circumstance, is inequivicably prayer-like. His transgression, taking Lili to see the unicorns, resulting in the death of the stallion, and his subsequent plea for forgiveness from the still-living mare, point clearly in the direction of Christian theology.

Farcical Fictional Fantasy or Fact?

One of the most powerful tools and appealing attributes of the film genre is the blurred horizon that it portrays between fiction and reality. In some cases this duality is more obscure than in others, but in executing a worthy level of critical analysis of any given film it is paramount that this dimensional interchange be explored thoroughly. For it is not only the audio-visual world that exists in film, but the added dimension that stretches out far beyond the screen, and beyond the parameters of the technical production. Fact and fiction may well meet and mingle in the course of the dialogue or through the action of a film, but the heart of truth lurking behind the characters and the plot goes much deeper.

Ridley Scott's "Legend" like all true science fiction can fairly be described as fantastical. The world in which the story takes place is outlandish, and for the most part, totally implausible, but this does not negate the possible presence of reality within it. Reality can neither be fully described or completely understood: it does not exist solely within the limits of our senses, nor fit wholly into the meagre expression of our language. Reality is, however, something to be grasped, and to be contemplated from the fragments that we gather. It is therefore fascinating to see in this film the glimpses of truth that Scott has chosen to arrange in this artist's impression, primarily by use of our primary human function: interactive relationship.

The first interactive relationship which we see in the film is Darkness and Blix together is inside the Great Tree, where a rather nervous Blix is beckoned nearer by his master. One of the long, curved talons of Darkness' hand hovers dangerously close to his subject's nose and as Blix's nose is similar in shape to the "fingernail" he faces, the effect is akin to a warped version of Michaelangelo's "Creation of Adam". The only creation that Darkness appears responsible for however is the bond of fear that binds his loyal servant to him.

Blix is not a slave without perks though, and is perhaps not so unlike a modern day Adam, who having scoffed down the fruit of the forbidden tree takes shameless pleasure in the freedom of his wicked pursuits, seemingly unaware of the eternal time scale of his contract with Death. At a more superficial level however, the stress here lies on the portrayal of Darkness' supremacy by likening him to God. This evil, oppressive nature is further highlighted by the extreme contrast at the end of this introductory scene where the camera joins the innocent Lili skipping through the bright and beautiful forest on a warm and melodious summer's day.

Even the pure Princess Lili's relationships are imperfect however, or more accurately, she is imperfect and thus so is the manner in which she relates, something that is distinctly "normal" about her. Although a great deal of the depth of her character has been damaged due to the extensive cutting of the film, Princess Lili still displays moments of regal arrogance that are characteristic of her intended persona in the original script and first director's cut. Perhaps the most noticeable of these is following her first encounter with the unicorn, and Jack's subsequent reprimand, where she exclaims,

"I only wanted to touch it. Where's the harm in that?"

Despite her apparent role as the supposed epitome of innocence, we see here that she is not beyond selfishness, something that must surely ring bells in the world of stark reality. (See Footnote #3)

It seems that Lili, symbolises us, capable of claiming innocence in the face of our own undeniable selfishness, and Jack's warning is harsh:

"You risk your immortal soul."

There's no escaping the message here: to act selfishly has a direct, negative impact on the soul. Despite her "innocence", Lili's actions have resulted in the death of the unicorn, a "sacred animal". The undertones vibrate with increasing strength in harmony with the scriptural evidence of Jesus Christ's death. The analogy grows more forcibly towards the film's conclusion where only by the resurrection of the unicorn is life restored to the forest, Darkness' power is broken, and Jack and Lili are at last able to continue down their path of mutual love.

Neither ignorance nor innocence can provide any escape from the responsibility for the consequences, as human selfishness murders the provider of life. Fortunately, Lili is pure of heart, and devotedly treads the path of repentance, seeking to do all she can to right the wrong she has done. She is not alone. Jack too, ashamedly accepts his role in bringing about the eternal winter and conscientiously follows the four vital steps to finding forgiveness. Like Lili, he takes responsibility for his actions, despite the fact that he "meant no wrong", accepting that ignorance is no excuse. He faces the one he wronged, coming before the last living unicorn, who has every reason to kill him for his actions, and confesses in tears, begging, "forgive me." Lastly, like Lili he repents, dedicating himself to do all that is within his power to right the wrong he has done.

"Legend" in its entirety, by the inspired use of all the tools at the hands of its creator(s) paints a wonderfully intricate spiritual likeness to the testimony of Jesus Christ, covering areas including innate human transgression, the need for forgiveness, the power of resurrection, and much more besides. The flagrant approach to light and dark as symbolic and metaphysical elements of both the actual story and the technical production allows the film to make socially viable comments along with the provision of an adequately accessible spiritual dimension.

The evil Lord's very name is Darkness, and his aim is to quite simply to rein in darkness by extinguishing the sun: "There will never be another dawn." His likeness to Satan is far from subtle, and he speaks of matters that penetrate the film's fabric, and pierce through to our world of "reality".

"The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity. Dreams are my speciality. Through dreams I influence mankind."

In a world which places emphasis on youthful looks, and rejects, yet commercialises spiritualism in the form of objects such as "dream catchers", such words are food for thought indeed. While each one of us resides within this introspective humanist society, driven by well-disguised selfish greed, where the making of our every dream and desire into reality is called "healthy ambition", Darkness' scornful, final words, which echo on far beyond the final credits, surely deserve some serious contemplation:

"You think you have won. I am a part of you all. You can never defeat me. We are brothers eternal."


Innocence is twisted into Ignorance,
Shattered by Inconfidence,
And corrupted by Indifference
Yet still, night gives way to day
At sunrise.

Footnote #1

Details of their relationship are discussed in greater depth in the third and fourth paragraphs of "Farcical Fictional Fantasy or Fact?"

Footnote #2

When Blix explains to his furious master that he has only managed to seize one unicorn horn, protesting his innocence by claiming that the other unicorn is only the female and thus can surely do nothing (!), Darkness' enraged, sarcastic reply states that the mare has "only the power of creation!"

Footnote #3

In the original script it is interesting to note that the intended depth of Lili's character goes a long way to depicting Jack in the role of innocence. This makes for fascinating speculation given that there is also some doubt as to his mortality: he is inexplicably wide awake while the mortal world sleeps. It is possible to draw parallels here to the character of Deckard in Scott's "Bladerunner" and the much-debated issue of whether or not he is a "replicant"?

© 1995-1998 Matthew Aitken. All rights reserved.

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