Saturday, 16 January 2016

Mourning Our Greats

This week we lost a couple of great creative people: Alan Rickman and David Bowie. Both huge figures in their field. Bowie, the theatrical, highly creative musician. Rickman, a great actor.

Personally, Bowie didn't hit me too hard. I have no doubt that he was a genius. But part of it, I think, is that his music never quite touched me like other music. It's well-crafted, it's interesting, he had a huge influence on other musicians, but I think maybe I like things that are a bit more soulful, or a bit more sexy.

I also think there's a thing about "our stuff" in there. I didn't grow up with Bowie at his peak. I started getting into music in a big way around 1981-2 and listening to the likes of Duran Duran, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Associates, U2 and New Order. Bowie was the music for people 5-10 years older than me. And I quite liked 1984's Let's Dance, but it wasn't exactly pushing my buttons. It wasn't really anything revolutionary if you'd heard Madonna and Michael Jackson.

On the other hand, despite only really recommending 3, maybe 4 of his films, I was moved by the death of Alan Rickman. Few actors are that great on screen, at having that ability to create a character and make them completely believable, where you just don't see the acting. I cracked open the Blu-Ray of Die Hard that I'd only recently bought and watched it and at no point do you think "actor playing Hans Gruber", you just see Hans Gruber. You also buy Bruce Willis as John McClane, but when has Bruce Willis played anything much outside of that?

But I think it's also that Rickman was in "my stuff". I saw Die Hard on VHS soon after it came out when I was about 21 or 22. I saw Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves at the cinema. We're much more connected to the art that we grow up, the stuff from around 13 to 35 than what's before or comes later.


Mark Wadsworth said...

Yes, you tend to like the stuff you grew up with (age 13 to 25), stuff older than that is old hat, stuff after that is pale copies.

Andrew S. Mooney said...

"You also buy Bruce Willis as John McClane, but when has Bruce Willis played anything much outside of that?"

Butch in Pulp Fiction was something of a departure, especially when considering the idea that A-List Hollywood actors don't do gay rape scenes in basements, and the idea that you're already invested in Vincent and Jules as the central characters, not his.

Twelve Monkeys? The psychologist in "The Sixth Sense?"

"The Fifth Element" is also sufficiently offbeat that many Hollywood stars would not have bothered with it, but it really saw him as one of the few people who survived being in that film with their credibility intact.

Mark Wadsworth said...

ADM, Twelve Monkeys is a gret film, and he and Brad Pitt do great acting, but I think that's still Bruce being Bruce. Lonely, single combat warrior etc.

James Higham said...


JuliaM said...

Never saw a film that Rickman was in that I didn't enjoy in some way. Can't really say the same about all Bowie's output.

Tim Almond said...

Andrew S Mooney,

But he's still playing a version of the same character - the good protagonist with wit and charm. OK, maybe not The Sixth Sense, but that's mostly just turning off the action stuff. He's never played a psychopath or a villain or a creepy character.