Thursday, January 14, 2016

Ode to Snape: Remembering the career of Alan Rickman

It has been a sad week in the entertainment. As shocking as it was to loose David Bowie this week, what took me off guard was the lost that occurred today. As I got up this morning to look at the movie news, I found myself stunned when I saw the headline stating that Alan Rickman had passed away. Evidently Rickman was battling cancer and, unfortunately, perished from the illness. He was 69 when he passed.

This lost hit me harder than David Bowie's passing. For many years now Alan Rickman has been among my favorite actors. No matter what movie he was in, be it a hit blockbuster or something independent, I have always enjoyed watching Alan Rickman's work. So to honor the fallen actor, here is my reflection on Alan Rickman and what I remembered from his career.

My first memory of Alan Rickman is likely one that many from my generation share. In 2001 author J.K Rowling's hit series would make its transition to cinematic format as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone made its way to theaters on November 16th. The film introduce me many actors who became favorites of mine; such as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Maggie Smith...actually the whole ensemble now that I think about it. Anyways among this great cast was none other then Alan Rickman who played the notorious potion master: Severus Snape.

When it came to the matter of Rickman playing the Hogwarts Professor, I think it was a uphill battle. For a large portion of the Harry Potter series, Snape was character that I loved to hate. Rowling wrote Snape in such a way that I could not help but despise the character; that was until the final book but that is beside the point. In the case of Alan Rickman's portrayal, I never felt that sense of loathing. Maybe it was because I was prepared for it but I never felt that love to hate sensation that I got from reading about Snape in the novels. Does that mean Allan portrayed Snape in a poor light? Absolutely not. In the case of playing the professor I think that Alan Rickman's portrayal was very true to the character; but it was done in a way that only Rickman knew how to do. Within the eight films were several terrific scenes from Rickman; such as Snape confronting Serious Black in The Prisoner of Azkaban, training Harry in occlumency in The Order of the Phoenix and of course seeing Snape's backstory in The Deathly Hallows. These scenes showed the weight Snape could bring as a character while showing off Alan Rickman's range as an actor. While it may not have been a portrayal that I was expecting, I feel that there was no actor more suited to play Severus Snape than Alan Rickman.

Soon after seeing Harry Potter (The Sorcerer's Stone that is),  I quickly acquainted with Rickman's other famous role. Watching the action classic Die Hard for the first time, I discovered that Alan Rickman played the film's villain: Hans Gruber. In my opinion Hans Gruber is one of the most iconic villains in an action film; not mention one of the best antagonist in film history. When it comes to action movies, villains tend to have only a few dimensions to their characters. In the case of Hans Gruber, the exemplary thief was a mastermind through and through. However unlike other villains who have filled this role, Gruber had a sense of charisma that made him likable. Yes the villain could be ruthless, but that did not stop him from being well mannered. Rickman's portrayal as the "terrorist" leader was top notch as his presence could rival even Bruce Willis' role as John McClain.

Over the years, Rickman has played several supporting characters. In Dogma Rickman played Metatron: the snarky voice of God. Allan Rickman's role in that film was interesting as though Metatron's moments were filled with humor, the character could be serious which was shown in one of the film's later scenes. Rickman has also been a part of several Burton film's. Rickman showed his singing capabilities in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, and he also was a solid supporting character in Burton's Alice in Wonderland as the Caterpillar. Yet of all the supporting performances from Mr.Rickman, the one that stands out to me is the paranoid android Marvin from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Even with Hitchhiker's great cast,  Marvin steals the show in every scene that he is in and Rickman's voice was truly fitting to play the depressed robot. No matter how big the role, Alan Rickman could always stand out as all of his supporting roles were always distinctive in some fashion.

There is still some of Rickman's work that I missed. I have not seen his performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham (at least not all of it); nor have I seen the actor's directed films. Even still Alan Rickman, to me,  was an unforgettable actor. Whether he was playing Severus Snape or Marvin, Rickman always showed off his skills as an actor by bringing his own sense of charisma to the silver screen. There some films left in Rickman's career as he has supporting roles in films such as Eye in the Sky and Alice through the Looking Glass. Yet there is no denying that the movie world has lost a great talent this day as Mr.Rickman will be missed. All I can do now is take my hat off to Alan Rickman for all of his hard work and say this: thank you and godspeed

No comments:

Post a Comment