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The Legend of 1900 Details


On the 1st of January in 1900, Danny Boodmann (Bill Nunn), the mechanic of the transatlantic liner Virginian bound for America, finds an abandoned baby on board and decides to keep him. Nicknamed Novecento (1900), the boy grows up on the ship hidden from everyone. His presence is revealed when Danny dies in an accident. The young '1900' manages to hide again despite threats from the captain. Discovering a passion for music, he teaches himself to play the piano without being able to read the notes, and he soon becomes a virtuoso whose reputation spreads beyond the confines of the ship. Even the famous jazz piano player, Jelly Roll Morton (Clarence Williams III), gets on board for a challenge because he has heard rumors about the greatest piano player in the world living on a ship. The story is told by Max Tooney, Novocento's old trumpeter friend, who reminisces about the incredible pianist who never set foot on land. After two films about cinema, Giuseppe Tornatore comes up with the story of a highly imaginative artist who lives only for and through his art. Tornatore was inspired by a theatre monologue written in 1994 by Alessandro Baricco, and the film was shot partly in Odessa, on a sixty-year-old Russian freighter, and partly in the Cinecitta studios in Rome. Tim Roth's performance as the talented but reserved Novocento is remarkable, and the music of Ennio Morricone plays a vital role in the film. La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano, which was retitled The Legend of 1900 for US distribution after forty-five minutes have been cut, was originally two hours and forty minutes when it was shown to great success in Italy in autumn of 1998. The US version had its world premiere at the 1999 Locarno International Film Festival. ~ Gönül Dönmez-Colin, Rovi

  • Release date:October 29, 1999


Awarded by
Italian Film Academy Maurizio Millenotti Best Costume Design 1998 Winner
Italian Film Academy Ennio Morricone Best Music 1998 Winner
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Ennio Morricone Best Original Score 1999 Winner
Italian Film Academy Giuseppe Tornatore Best Director 1998 Winner
Italian Film Academy Lajos Koltai Best Cinematography 1998 Winner
European Film Academy Lajos Koltai Best Cinematography 1999 Winner
Italian Film Academy Francesco Frigeri Best Art Direction 1998 Winner


Tim Roth
as Danny Boodman T.D. Lemon 1900
Pruitt Taylor Vince
as Max Tooney
Clarence Williams III
as Jelly Roll Morton
Mélanie Thierry
as The Paduan Girl
Bill Nunn
as Danny Boodman
Peter Vaughan
Niall O'Brien
as Chief of the Port
Gabriele Lavia
Alberto Vasquez
as Mexican
Harry Ditson
as Naval Captain
Heathcote Williams
as Dr. Klauserman
Cory Buck
as 1900 (age 8)
Heathcote Williams
as Dr. Klauserman
Harry Ditson
as Naval Captain


Giuseppe Tornatore
Laura Fattori
Alessandro Baricco
Book Author
Alessandro Baricco
Giuseppe Tornatore
Lajos Koltai
Ennio Morricone
Composer (Music Score)
Massimo Quaglia
Francesco Frigeri
Production Designer
Maurizio Millenotti
Costume Designer
Roberto Petrozzi
Sound/Sound Designer
Renato Agostini
Special Effects Supervisor