The Legend of 1900

Director/Writer:Giuseppe Tornatore
Fine Line Features; unrated; 110 minutes
Cast:Tim Roth, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Bill Nunn

The Legend of 1900 is Italian filmmaker Giuseppe Tornatore's first English-language work. Staged aboard an ocean liner, it concerns a foundling named 1900. His adoptive ship-worker dad dies suddenly, leaving 1900 to the ship, and it is here he lives and grows, awing passengers with his skills as a piano prodigy. The movie flits between magical realism, fairy tale, and historical piece. 1900 (Tim Roth) experiences the century's advances completely on-board. One of the dramatic peaks occurs when he falls in love and must decide whether to venture on land (for the first time ever) or remain alone on the ship that is his home.

Roth is good as 1900, especially when dueling pianos with flamboyant Jelly Roll Morton (Clarence Williams III). Ennio Morricone contributes an accomplished soundtrack. The film is dreamy and often very beautiful, but, as a cerebral attempt at Titanic grandeur, is goes awash in its own hazily realized pretensions.