Watching Brad Pitt in Legends of the Fall is like watching a love story within a story. A love story with one man. A love story about a smile. A love story about hair blowing in the wind. A love story about a man riding in on his horse. Riding out on his horse. Okay, have I said “love story” enough?
If you’ve seen Legends of the Fall you will know the love story part is short-lived and fleeting. This is a painful story. A story about death and madness. And how life is not fucking fair.
This story will make you want to crawl in the snow and cry your eyes out! But! Before you do that. You must take a look at the God that is Brad Pitt in this movie.
He plays Tristan. The son of a powerful rancher in the late 1800s in Montana. The first time we see Brad in the movie, he’s on a horse. His younger brother points him out — “Hey there’s Tristan!” — and suddenly it’s a different movie. It’s the movie we came to see. Brad Pitt comes riding up. The music swells. Everyone stares, mesmerized by Tristan. The purple mountains behind him and grassy field ahead. Brad gets off the horse and he’s got his long blonde pony tail. His cowboy hat. He’s rugged yet filled with love. He picks up his younger brother, Samuel and hugs him fiercely. Samuel says, “Still hung over?” Tristan is a wiseacre, so he says, “Still drunk.”
Oooh, bad boy. Brad walks up to the carriage where Samuel’s fiancée (Julia Ormond) is sitting pretty with her white lace, her black hat and her parasol. He stares at her intently. Like he’s never seen a woman, or hasn’t seen a woman looking so clean and shiny like this. Ever. And he’s captivated. He can’t stop staring. This would be creepy if it wasn’t Brad Pitt and his gorgeous ponytail, but instead it’s, like, the sexiest thing on earth.
I remember thinking at the time that this is the kind of quality I should have on my list: “A man who looks at me like Brad Pitt looks at Julia Ormond in Legends of the Fall.” But the stare doesn’t last that long. The women in the audience don’t think it’s creepy that Brad is giving Julia Ormond the Montana-male-objectification treatment—but his older brother who is straight and narrow, does. So he squirts Tristan I mean Brad, I’m so turned on that I can’t even think of his real name—in the head with water from his canteen. He’s “cooling him off.”
It’s so stupid and cliché. Like, let Brad Pitt stare at her! She’s the object of everyone’s affection at one point or another in this movie. The scene isn’t part of the novella by Jim Harrison. But someone thought it would be a good idea to cool that wild thang down. I always hated that moment. Don’t cool him down! Let him simmer! This foreshadowing is going to lead to a tortured relationship between these two—why put out the fire now? Let us have our own sordid thoughts around it. Still, Brad makes it a great moment and it’s a beautiful scene.