THE LEGEND OF 1900
A Winsome Story Marred by Obscenity
Release Date: October 29, 1999
Audience: Older teenagers and adults
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Fine Line Features
Director: Giuseppe Tornatore
Executive Producer: Marco Chimenz & Laura Fattori
Producer: Francesco Tornatore
Address Comments To:
(BB, E, Ro, C, LLL, V, A, D, M) Predominantly moral worldview with some environmentalist, romantic, & Christian worldview elements including main character trying to save another character, when reminiscing character recalls man's kindness & views on life, character prefers world on boat with boundaries rather than the land "without end," & positive reference to God through allegory of a piano; 24 obscenities, 5 profanities, use of b*st*rd at times, & 8-year-old boy uses f-word; a few elements of violence including man getting hit on back of head with hook, man spits up blood & man holds gun on another man; no sex; no nudity; alcohol use; smoking; and, miscellaneous immorality including theft & gambling.
A trumpet player tells the story of an abandoned boy, born and raised on a huge Trans-Atlantic ocean liner knowing no other environment except the ship. He is discovered to be a natural genius on the piano, but he finds his contentment in the only world he has known, the ocean. A predominantly moral worldview movie is marred by frequent obscenity use.
In the opening scene of THE LEGEND OF 1900, the huge ocean liner on the vast sea makes one immediately think of TITANIC, but that's where the similarity ends.
Max (Pruitt Taylor Vince), a trumpet player in need of some cash, walks into a music shop and bargains with the store's owner to buy his trumpet. Though Max is reluctant, he agrees on a price, but asks the owner if he might play the trumpet one last time. As the instrument sends out a slow, melodic tune, the shop owner puts an old record on a victrola and plays the same song. He asks Max who wrote it, and Max tells the man, "If I told you, you wouldn't believe me." However, the man insists, so Max tells his story.
After a Trans-Atlantic steamer docks into New York, unloading about 2,000 immigrants, a coal shoveler named Danny (Bill Nunn) searches the first class ballroom for valuables left behind. He finds an abandoned baby in a box, and decides to raise him on the ship. This brings many jeers from his co-workers, though he is more concerned about finding a name for the boy. Danny decides to name him 1900, since he was born on January 1 of 1900. At age 8, he is discovered by many of the ship's guests playing the piano like a professional in the middle of the night. Soon he begins performing with the ship's orchestra, entertaining the world "2,000 at a time." He even makes a record, but only one. He also refuses to have his music played without him and never leaves the ship.
Soon, he meets Max, a talented trumpet player who also plays with the ship's band. Max continually encourages 1900 to "get off the boat" and see the world, but 1900 refuses until one day, he decides to go, but only gets as far as the ramp off the boat. Finally he tells Max that he views his life on the boat as he does a piano, that the keys on a piano have a beginning and an end, just like the ship. "If the keys are infinite, you can't play that piano - that's God's piano," he tells Max, relating the immensity of the world to a piano. This is a recognition not only of God's infinite nature but also of His sovereignty. The movie also contains some redemptive aspects and extols kindness as a virtue.
Years later, after Max sells his trumpet, he sees the ship on which he used to work with 1900 is about to be destroyed. Knowing his friend is still on board, he persuades the crew to let him search for him. With the record discarded long ago and a victrola from the music shop, he plays 1900's song, hoping 1900 will hear it.
THE LEGEND OF 1900 is a look at a simple situation with intricate feelings and philosophies. Unlike BLAST FROM THE PAST, where we see Brandon Fraser's character yearning to leave the bomb shelter in which he was born, the only environment he's ever known, 1900 never has left nor desires to leave the ship on which he was born. The story does not imply that 1900 has an ignorant contentment in knowing the simple things, but rather a complex understanding of the things he has not seen.
Regrettably, the amount of foul language used in the film is the reason for the "R" rating. This includes 1900 at 8-years-old telling an authority figure, "F--- the regulations." Other scenes could easily have been done without the use of four letter words, but then again, can't they always? The lack of sex, nudity and any connotations to such is sensible, raising the bar for the film's effectiveness.
Music is a huge draw in this movie, with a big "piano duel" between 1900 and real-life artist Jelly Roll Morton tickling the ears and eyes of anyone who can keep up with the musicians' fingers flying across the keys. Any jazz or big band fan will be pleased at the style and prominence music takes throughout the story. THE LEGEND OF 1900 is a lovely story, though caution should be exercised because of the strong foul language and some romanticism.
Unlike BLAST FROM THE PAST where a character longs to leave his bomb shelter home, the piano playing character in THE LEGEND OF 1900 has never left his ocean liner home nor has he the desire to leave it. A trumpet player tells the story of 1900, an abandoned baby named after the year he was born. Raised on a huge Trans-Atlantic ocean liner, 1900 knows no other environment except the ship. He has extraordinary talent on the piano and entertains thousands of people. Despite his increasing fame, he remains oblivious to the world, finding his contentment in the only world he has known, the ocean going vessel.
Regrettably, the amount of foul language used in the film is the reason for its "R" rating. References to sex and nudity, however, are kept to a minimum. Music is a huge draw in the movie. Jazz and big band fans will be pleased at the prominence such music plays throughout the story. Best of all, this movie contains a recognition of God's sovereignty and infinite nature and some redemptive themes. THE LEGEND OF 1900 is a lovely story, though caution should be exercised because of its strong foul language