The Legend of 1900

October 28, 1998 0 By Fans
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Still of Tim Roth in The Legend of 1900Still of Tim Roth in The Legend of 1900Still of Tim Roth and Pruitt Taylor Vince in The Legend of 1900


Shortly after the Second World War, Max, a transplanted American, visits an English pawn shop to sell his trumpet…

Release Year: 1998

Rating: 7.9/10 (19,636 voted)

Critic's Score: 58/100

Giuseppe Tornatore

Stars: Tim Roth, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Bill Nunn

Shortly after the Second World War, Max, a transplanted American, visits an English pawn shop to sell his trumpet. The shopkeeper recognizes the tune Max plays as one on a wax master of an unreleased recording, discovered and restored from shards found in a piano salvaged from a cruise ship turned hospital ship, now slated for demolition. This chance discovery prompts a story from Max, which he relates both to the shopkeeper and later to the official responsible for the doomed vessel, for Max is a born storyteller. Though now down on his luck and disillusioned by his wartime experiences, the New Orleans-born Max was once an enthusiastic and gifted young jazz musician, whose longest gig was several years with the house band aboard the Virginian, a posh cruise ship. While gaining his sea legs, he was befriended by another young man, the pianist in the same band, whose long unlikely name was Danny Boodman T.D…

Writers: Alessandro Baricco, Giuseppe Tornatore


Tim Roth

Danny Boodmann T.D. Lemon Nineteen Hundred '1900'

Pruitt Taylor Vince

Max Tooney

Bill Nunn

Danny Boodmann

Clarence Williams III

Jelly Roll Morton

Mélanie Thierry

The Girl

Gabriele Lavia


Peter Vaughan

'Pops', the Shopkeeper

Niall O'Brien

Harbor Master

Alberto Vazquez

Mexican Stoker

Luigi De Luca

Neapolitan Stoker

Femi Elufowojo

Black Stoker

(as Femi Elufowoja Jr.)

Nigel Fan

Chinese Stoker

Roger Monk

Irish Stoker

Leonid Zaslavski

Polish Stoker

Bernard Padden


An epic story of a man who could do anything… except be ordinary.

Release Date: 28 October 1998

Filming Locations: Cinecittà Studios, Cinecittà, Rome, Lazio, Italy

Box Office Details

Budget: $9,000,000


Opening Weekend: $39,200
(31 October 1999)
(5 Screens)

Gross: $259,127
(12 December 1999)

Technical Specs



(international version)

Did You Know?


There was actually a registered ship named the SS Virginian which was built in 1904 and scrapped around 1954. The ship had one funnel with the Allan Liner's colors on it. The SS Virginian also had a vital part in the Titanic disaster in April 1912 as she was reported near the vicinity of the sinking and within radio contact.


The recording equipment used for making the record was clearly acoustic in nature, showing large horns. This type of recording was largely replaced in 1925 by electrical recording, using microphones. Yet the recording was made somewhere between 1927 and 1933, according to Tooney's story. Furthermore, the recording engineer played back the matrix immediately; this would have ruined the matrix, which was cut in wax. In those days, immediate playback was only possible using a 2nd set of equipment expressly for that purpose.


[first lines]

I still ask myself if I did the right thing when I abandoned his floating city. And I don't mean only for the work. The fact is, a friend like that, a real friend – you won't meet one again. If you just decide to hang up your sea legs, if you just want to feel something more solid beneath your feet – and it's then you no longer hear the music of the gods around you…

User Review

The antidote to all your troubles, "1900" will sweep you away


It is at a time like this I wish I could expand my vocabulary to better
articulate the virtues and qualities of such a fine film. I also find I'm
bursting to talk about this film that I regrettably saw alone. I don't want
to spoil it for anyone, but desperately want to share it with everyone.

The talented star of "The Legend of 1900", Tim Roth, presented this film
along with Clarence Williams III. His encouragement to the audience was that
if anyone was the sort who liked to pick apart at films and critique their
lack of realism, they should just leave now. He touted this wonderful vision
from the director of Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore, and likened the
film to a "dream". He also said that if anyone had seen his own film, "The
War Zone", that "1900" was the antidote for it. I was slated to see "The War
Zone" the next day, but that was fine by me. I managed by a sheer stroke of
luck to get into this Canadian premiere and found it to be absolutely
extraordinary and the best film I'd seen so far of the Toronto International
Film Festival.

It seems as though mere moments after the initial credits, that the
wonderful storytelling and incredible music combined with stunning visuals
almost had me moved to tears. While I'll admit that I'd be seeing films all
day, no film in my recollection had such an impact so quickly.

The story is one of an abandoned baby who is found on a ocean liner by one
of the ship's crew. He is unofficially adopted and named "1900" for the year
in which he was born. At a very early age the boy demonstrates an
extraordinary gift for piano playing which is only strengthened in his
passing years. The boy grows up with no official identity, into a man having
never taken a step off of the ship onto dry land in his whole life. The
young man, played by Tim Roth is encouraged by his dear friend to leave the
boat and pursue a life of fame and fortune as the great pianist he has
become. 1900 declines, explaining simply that everything he needs is on the

Well, that should be enough to intrigue you; there's much more of course,
but I've no desire to spoil it for anyone. I must encourage everyone to see
this film, I can hardly imagine anyone being disappointed. It's for music
lovers, dreamers, romantics and film buffs everywhere and my greatest hope
is that it will be seen by many, many people, especially those I know and
love. And after seeing the film, and hearing Tim Roth's words echoing in my
mind, he was absolutely right. It is like a dream, a wonderful dream that I
wished would never end. And for a future prediction, I see this film as a
Best Foreign Film Oscar nomination for 1999.