By Grabthar's Hammer - What a Tragedy

This week has seen the loss of two great talents. First David Bowie, and yesterday Alan Rickman.

I was saddened by David Bowie's death, as his contribution to society at large was immeasurable. But since he was "before my time" for lack of a better phrase, my sorrow is somewhat detached. The same isn't true for Alan Rickman.

The first time I remember seeing Alan Rickman was in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Since I wasn't a discerning observer of film in my early teens, I have Mumsy and Daddy to thank for understanding that his was a superior performance. The particular phrases: "Locksley, I'm gonna cut your heart our with a spoon!" and "Call off Christmas!" brought from them the heartiest guffaws. This made me pay attention to nuance, since all I saw was a bad guy needing some killing. The Sheriff of Nottingham is a reprehensible, vile, cunning buffoon. One to be feared, yet laughed at. Rickman embodied each characteristic with flawless precision, and if not for him, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, would be a second-rate movie.

Obviously, Die Hard just kicks ass all-around. But the sweetness of John McClane's victory would've been diminished if Hans Gruber were entrusted to another actor. And since Rickman got the role two days after arriving in LA, it's nice to see that debate amongst those in charge of casting was nonexistent. My favorite reaction of his is at the end, when he has Holly captured and is packing up the money. She says, "So that's what this is about. You're nothing more than an common thief." This, more than the multitude of things that went wrong, infuriates him, as evidenced with his menacing snarl: "I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I'm moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite." Die Hard is so woven into our cultural fabric, that even the most hyped holiday isn't complete if we don't see him plummet to his death:

Ho Ho Ho

As anyone who knows me, or has followed this blog since its inception (which is all of you, of course!) I'm a sci-fi nerd. There are others more hardcore than I, for sure. But I have strong passions and Star Trek is one of them, which brings me to the last movie of Alan Rickman's (but I haven't see them all) I hold dear. Galaxy Quest. This is a brilliant movie that celebrates a sub-culture, while respectfully poking fun at it. That's no mean feat. While everyone (Sigourney Weaver, Tim Allen, Tony Shalhoub to name a few) are at the top of their game, Alan Rickman's character, Alexander Dane (Dr. Lazarus), a Shakespearean actor filled with self-loathing, could've been just an annoying whiner. He reviles the adulation poured upon him by adoring fans, and seethes with indignation whenever he has to utter the phrase: "By Grabthar's Hammer." Then they are all brought to a ship of aliens with a child-like intellect, the Thermians, fighting for survival against a horrible green militant, who believe the cast of Galaxy Quest are actual astronauts. But the crew comes together to save the Thermians, and when Quellek, the Thermian who most adores Dr. Lazarus is shot, its with heartfelt sincerity, not contempt, that he pledges, "By Grabthar's Hammer.... by the Sons of Worvan... you shall be avenged."

Something I always appreciated about him as evidenced by his work, and the fact that his visage wasn't smeared all over the tabloids: he respected the art. So many excellent performers are splattered about that, for me, they no longer become their characters. I'll see the actor/actress first, and the character they're portraying second. And thanks to this remembrance, I now need to see Sense and Sensibility, Truly, Madly, Deeply and The Sun Ain't Going to Shine Anymore (hadn't even heard of that one!). And I just may watch the rest of the Harry Potter movies. I've only seen the first one.

Fare thee well, Alan Rickman. By Grabthar's Hammer.... you will never be forgotten.


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