Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Legend of 1900 (1998)

From director Giuseppe Tornatore, came this movie about a man who spent his entire life on a ship. Abandoned as a baby on a piano, he is raised by a worker from the ship's boiler room. People call him: Nineteen hundred, taken from the year he was found. Having no papers, he never leaves the ship. Then he shows that he has a great talent in music and becomes the ship's piano player. He is very well-known that Jelly Roll Morton of New Orleans jazz fame (brilliantly played by Clarence Williams III) challenges him to a duel, which is one of the best scenes in this movie. 1900 wins, of course. Only one thing he cannot do: to leave his home, the ship.

Tim Roth plays 1900. I like the scene when he first appears: sea-sick Max (Pruitt Taylor Vincence, whose eyes never seem on focus, I think) comes into the ballroom and 1900 plays the piano to make him forget his sickness. It's a wonderful scene, the piano and the two men happily gliding around the room, with the stormy sea outside. With his talent, 1900 can also guess people's personalities (and compose their soundtracks). He makes rich and poor people happy with his piano playing, as depicted when he plays, not only in the ballroom, but also for the immigrants.

The movie begins with Max, who is selling his trumpet in a second-hand store. He plays it for the last time and the store-owner is struck by the song. He has the record, found inside a used piano. It was broken in pieces, but has been mended. Max then tells him the story of 1900 and the meaning of the beautiful song, which is the only one recorded by 1900, the first and only time he falls in love.

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