Wednesday, January 23, 2008

"No reins on this one."


The untimely and tragic death of Heath Ledger has hit me quite hard. Pretty much every film fan I know, myself included, had the feeling that Ledger would eventually prove himself as one of the greats. In a career that included just around twenty films, and most of them unfortunately not very good, Ledger consistently stood out. There was something real about him…something strong, honorable and genuine. Like, River Phoenix, another actor who was taken from us far too young who routinely never got the quality of pictures he deserved, Heath Ledger will be remembered for always bringing something special and noble to the films he graced.

Ledger’s most masterful and resonate creation is absolutely Ennis in Ang Lee’s powerful BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. I was so moved by Ledger in this film (I admit that I have never cried more in a picture) that I haven’t been able to revisit it since seeing it in a theater when it first came out. His work as Ennis was truly original, complex, and quite unlike anything American cinema had seen in a very long time. Ennis was such an internal man and Ledger’s near grunting strife filled characterization was heartbreaking and magical stuff. I came out of the film convinced that Ledger would become one of our great actors and I still think it is one of the bravest and most powerful performances of this or any other decade.

There are other films worth noting, though none as great as BROKEBACK. Ledger gave the best performance in Marc Forster's MONSTERS BALL and was really fine opposite Mel Gibson in THE PATRIOT. He was also rather spectacular in the otherwise disappointing PAYBACK follow up film, THE ORDER, for director Brian Helgeland. Films like CASANOVA, THE LORDS OF DOGTOWN, BROTHERS GRIM, THE PATRIOT, NED KELLY, I’M NOT THERE, CANDY and the upcoming new BATMAN film (where his Joker looks positively terrifying) will perhaps all be viewed a little differently now with Ledger's passing. Each, regardless of their individual merits, can be looked upon as pieces of a remarkably layered and complex puzzle that will tragically remain incomplete.

My path almost passed with Heath Ledger once as he toured Elvis Presley's Graceland with Naomi Watts just hours before one of my visits. He was with Watts as she was filming 21 GRAMS in Memphis and I have always viewed the missed meeting as a simple regret...it seems like something much more now.
My thoughts are with Ledger's friends, fans and family...espcially Michelle Williams and their daughter Matilda. Heath Ledger came into the world on an Australian spring morning in 1979...he left it during a cold Manhattan winter afternoon in 2008. He was just 28 years old. To quote Neil Young's song about another lost great..."He sleeps with angels too soon."

5 comments:

Steve Langton said...

Your post is a wonderful tribute to a quality actor. I stopped trying to make sense of why people are taken at a young age a long time ago. I guess his fans will take comfort that he's gone to a better place, but his family never will. Heartbreaking.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Steve,
I appreciate the comments...

Rogue Spy 007 said...

Hey Jeremy. Your blog tribute to Heath Ledger was very touching. I was so shocked when I heard about the passing of this fine young actor. It's still hard to believe it. He had so much potential. We had caught glimpses of that in his films. Even if the film wasn't that good, he always shined in it. I was really excited to see his take on the Joker, especially after I saw the trailer for it. He will be sorely missed. My sympathy goes out to all his loved ones, especially Michelle and their daughter.

CG said...

His passing is deeply saddening. What you've written here is a beautiful dedication to a soul whose premature departure will be felt by many. Myself included.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith...I feel the same way. It is such a tragic thing and a huge loss. I am greatly anticipating seeing his role as the Joker as I suspect it will turn out to be on of his greatest performances..

Thanks CG,
I really appreciate the nice comments. I wish I could have written more...