Although Edward Zwick's ambitious, tragic epic oozes with melodrama, it nevertheless manages to captivate the imagination. With a macho rural narrative smacking of a Jack London tale, the story becomes stuck in a tragic mode early on, with one painful event after another befalling the film's central family. Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt, and Aidan Quinn all breathe life into their respective characters, but their work, as well as Zwick's ability to capture the rugged beauty of Montana's pastoral landscapes, is severely compromised by the film's excessive length and its narrative's unceasing tragedies, both of which try the viewer's patience. The cast rarely disappoints though; Hopkins is exceptional as the patriarchal anarchist, while Pitt and Quinn also offer some strong moments. Legends of the Fall has all the elements of classic melodrama: romance, war, tragedy, and sibling rivalry, and its universal appeal made it a hit with moviegoers but, despite its aspirations, it is by no means an epic tale for the ages.