‘Legend’ : ’80s Prog + Fantasy Revival = Awesome

I’d long known about the Tangerine Dream soundtrack to the film Legend, and the song from it, “Loved by the Sun,” featuring Jon Anderson. But I’d never actually seen the movie. So when Jen suggested we watch it a couple of weeks ago, I jumped at the chance.

I’m totally glad I did. The 1985 film isn’t Ridley Scott’s best—it isn’t even Tom Cruise’s best—but I was captivated by the use of music in it. For those not in the know, Legend is the story of a princess and a peasant who get caught up in a plot by the Lord of Darkness to steal the horns of two unicorns and thus snuff out light in the world. Or something like that. Anyway, the movie is set in a fantasy realm with goblins and dwarves, enchanted forests and ancient temples, and the music—all breathy synths, plucked strings and gongs—provide quite the complement to the visuals. “Loved by the Sun” is particularly effective, especially with vocals from Anderson, whom I’ve always assumed is secretly some sort of wood elf.

Watching the movie I decided that, in a way, it was the apotheosis of prog in the ’80s. There has always been a strong fantasy element in progressive rock, and visuals have always played an important role. But the three have rarely come together on film. Legend is a wonderful example of when they did. And it left me wishing more of the movies from the the early ’80s fantasy revival had enlisted prog artists. Can you imagine Conan the Barbarian scored by Jethro Tull or, I dunno, The Last Unicorn with music by Renaissance? God, talk about missed opportunities.

Check out this video for “Loved by the Sun,” set to scenes from Legend.

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