Sep. 27th, 2008

angelophile: (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern)


A year in which Charlton Heston and now Paul Newman can die is, by default, a wholly depressing one.

As I've said before, it's a bad year for losing legends of the screen.

A friend has argued that no year is a good year. In that he's right. But somehow we seem to have lost some real gold this year.

He's also pointed out Newman had a long and full life. My attitude is that it's not been long enough.

Why is that? I guess I feel differently when real screen legends go. Or perhaps it's how active a person was in their life. When someone dies who is in their eighties, who contributed much to whatever genre, it's sad. But I find it particularly tragic in certain cases.

Some people simply die too young because they're still working, still producing material that I like and respect until death claims them.

Newman, for example, turned in a superlative performance in Road to Perdition not that long ago. George MacDonald Fraser was still producing wonderful books up until a few months before his death. There have been dozens of such deaths this year - people taken when they were still capable of producing great work if they'd had more time.

Particularly in the case of actors.

Take, for example, Peter O'Toole, thankfully still with us. I've always considered him a great actor, but he delivered a recent performance in Venus that was just incredible, his work on stage in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell was amazing - as an actor, I think he's accomplished some utterly brilliant work in the last ten years or so. And, god forbid, if he died tomorrow, we'd lose the chance to see more.

Or, look at Alec Guinness - in my mind probably the greatest screen actor, well, ever. In his last years he turned in a performance in the drama A Foreign Field that was as good as he'd ever been.

It's different when you look at someone who hasn't filled their life from start to finish, who had it, but times changed and the work dried up or who, for whatever reason, weren't producing later in their lives.

But when, like Newman and many others who have died this year, there was still life to be led, it makes me very sad.

The world is a litter emptier today.

July 2013

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