16 August 2008

Sharpe The Legend

Sharpe The Legend, An Unusual Retrospective
By Kristin Battestella

Included in the Complete Sharpe Collector’s Set is the special highlight DVD Sharpe The Legend. Originally released on vhs with the final episodes, The direct to video reminisce Legend brings back the mysteriously departed Rifleman Cooper (Michael Mears) as he sits in a pub telling a friend (ie the camera) about the stellar escapades of one Richard Sharpe, chronicling the original episodes from Rifles to Waterloo. It’s the typical tongue and cheek of this series and fans will delight in the actions, duels, loves, and losses from almost 25 hours of Sharpe television. 

Before I get into analysis proper of Legend, here’s a few Sharpe lists to refresh you:

Series Order:
6 Gold
10 Siege
Sharpe The Legend
16 Peril

Novel Chronological Order:
There are also Three Sharpe Short Stories: Skirmish, Christmas, and Ransom

Despite this wealth of Sharpe canon onscreen and off, only the hardcore fan will appreciate Legend. It may be a highlight reel, but Legend gives away too much for it to be an introductory piece. Only a fan can appreciate the returned Cooper, his quirky reminisces, and the cheeky pub approach. I can picture my 10 and 11 year old nieces –who are actually very interested in Sharpe- laughing and saying “What is this?”
Sharpe The Legend also suffers from the same poor production that hampers earlier Sharpe episodes. The editing and lighting is very poor, and Cooper’s narration is a bit off. Sometimes he talks over onscreen voices, other times there is silence when a good quip is needed. Some of the highlights don’t even match the setup, and they are often overlong and poorly paced. Not all the ladies are shown in Sharpe’s conquests, and honestly, not the best highlights were even chosen. A proper retrospective with the entire cast reflecting on the show would have perfectly filled the void of no behind the scenes footage.

Sure I’ve been harsh, so far, but now let’s look at what Sharpe enthusiasts will love about Sharpe The Legend. Fans that wonder about Cooper’s absence halfway through the series receive no answers here. In fact, Cooper’s onscreen chat takes us chronologically through the entire series. How could Cooper talk so frankly about Jane and Waterloo? He wasn’t there! Die hards will also notice the infamous Sharpe’s Gold is totally ignored and no comment is made on the two Wellingtons. Pieces of Legend also compose the opening menus on the Sharpe DVDs. 

For fans that have just finished viewing the series its great to look back, or if you’ve hopped around episodes, you can catch goodness you might have missed. Ladies in need of a quick Bean fix can pop in a video that is all Sharpe. Despite its clip reel style, this is why Legend is not meant for beginners. It spoils all of Sharpe’s goodness.

If you own the complete tape collection or any of the collector sets on DVD, you probably already own Sharpe The Legend. It’s not a must have unless you’re a completist, but for folks who have seen Sharpe in the past and want to get back to the series, Legend is full of memories.

Now, Kristin Attempts to Rate the Sharpe episodes:
15. Gold
14. Justice
13. Siege
12. Rifles
11. Challenge
10. Mission
9. Regiment
8. Sword
7. Battle
6. Eagle
5. Waterloo
4. Revenge
3. Honour
2. Company
1. Enemy

I’ll probably change my mind when the next film Sharpe’s Peril comes along and I’ve got plenty of books to read. So go on, over the hills and far away with you!


Don't forget our Sean Bean and Sharpe reviews are also available at The Mighty Bean website and now Sharpe's Point!

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