Story “Legends of the Fall” Short Summary

Legends of the Fall is an excellent story of brotherhood, loss, and life. Originally Legends of the Fall was a story written by Jim Harrison, but later was adapted into a film. The story tells of three brothers named: Alfred, Tristan, and Samuel, who lived their lives on a plantation in Montana and then decided to go to war once the youngest brother was of age. Samuel, the youngest brother seemed to be favored by the family; and the older brothers only want to go to war to protect him. Eventually tragedy strikes and young Samuel is killed by machine guns due to his blindness from mustard gas.

Tristan (the middle brother) took Samuel’s death especially hard and many other characters thought he had become completely mad. Once Tristan and Alfred came home from the war they go in completely opposite directions. Tristan abandoned the woman he loved, Susannah, and went on an adventure to other countries looking for something to fill the place in his heart that Samuel fit into. Eventually a strange love triangle unfolds and the characters get into deeper drama and trouble. Through analyzing the film and text one will find that there are different aspects in each one that do not exactly agree.

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Setting, characterization, time, conflict, and dialogue are some of the aspects that one can compare to determine the difference in the two stories. During the film Legends of the Fall most of the events shown took place at the Ludlow’s ranch in Montana. Shorter scenes were also shown of the brothers at war in England and of Tristan’s journey after the death of Samuel. One of the most significant differences in the setting is when, in the film, Tristan witnessed Samuel’s death during the war. In the text, Tristan did not see Samuel’s death, but it still impacted him just as significantly.

Much more emphasis is placed on Tristan’s journeys after Samuel’s death in the text. The film shows just a few moments of scenery of Tristan’s travels to different places. In the film Susannah was engaged to be married to Samuel before she had ever met his family. Samuel brought Susannah home one summer to meet his father and brothers and to stay for a while at their ranch. They had planned to marry and seemed like they had a great life ahead of them, considering Samuel was in school at Harvard and was doing exceptionally well. Their lans were rudely interrupted when Samuel shared to his family and Susannah that he was going to join the war. Samuel’s plan had upset Susannah to the point that she was sobbing, and she tried to persuade Tristan to convince Samuel not to go. When she was in this vulnerable state, Tristan tried to console her and the first moment of chemistry was obvious to the viewer and stronger than any moment that had been witnessed with Samuel. The moment when the two are close enough to touch lips, Alfred walked in the doorway and was infuriated.

Yet, Alfred remained quiet about what he had seen because he did not want to break young Samuel’s heart, and truly he was even more upset because he secretly had a deep desire for Susannah. The news came of Samuel’s death in the war and Susannah was completely devastated, but she could not deny her strong attraction to Tristan. Eventually Tristan and Susannah fell completely in love, and decided to get engaged. But even Susannah could not satisfy the part of Tristan that Samuel had satisfied, so Tristan decided to go on an adventure to other countries. When he told Susannah of his plan, she promised to wait for him forever.

Susannah was faithful to her promise for a while, but it turned out that forever was too long and Alfred wanted her to himself. So, she married Alfred to relieve the sting of loneliness. When Tristan came back, he was not upset by the news of Alfred and Susannah’s marriage. Yet, their love for each other was still apparent to the viewer. But, then Tristan saw Isabel II and started falling in love with her. They fell in love, got married, and had children together. They named their first son Samuel, and for the first time Tristan actually felt part of the love he had for his younger brother.

In the text, more focus is placed on the adventures of Tristan than the love story of Tristan and Susannah. Also, Susannah and Samuel were never engaged in the text. She was engaged to be married to Tristan from the first mention of her character. Samuel and Susannah were never described having feelings for each other, and she did not seem as affected by his death as she was in the film. Alfred’s love for Susannah was the same in the film and text. Susannah also promised to wait for Tristan forever as he traveled on his adventures, but it turned out that forever was too long.

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Story “Legends of the Fall” Short Summary. (2017, Feb 05). Retrieved from