Monday, July 21, 2008

Ledger's acting is no joke...


I am a big admirer of talent. A man becomes 1000 times more attractive to me if he’s very good at what he’s chosen to do. But even that aside, I platonically admire anyone who has notable talent at anything, whether it be painting, singing, dressing well, speaking correctly, or designing furniture. I also believe, quite passionately, in giving compliments.

I FINALLY got to go see “The Dark Knight” on Saturday, after several attempts and lots of hype. I’ve gotten into the habit of reading USA Today on my breaks at work, and I’ve read dozens of reviews and articles related to Heath Ledger and the newest Batman movie.

And I’m beginning to get annoyed.

First, let me say that I LOVED the film. I want to go see it again soon; I feel like there are still parts of it I need to wrap my mind around. My quick review: I thought that the story-boarding was weak at times, particularly during some of the action sequences…at times it was difficult to tell what was going on. It also had a few too many “mini-climaxes,” and it was unclear as to what the main climax was. But the make-up was great, timing excellent, development of characters and ideas fantastic, and it made me think and I learned a few things, and therefore it served its purpose.

Second of all, Heath Ledger really was brilliant. I think one can accurately say that he “stole the show.” He was comedic, disturbing, alarmingly animalistic, and terrifyingly human. One of the articles I read said that he studied thousands of recordings of ventriloquists, and used the voices they give their dummies as his inspiration for the voice of The Joker. Heath Ledger took a somewhat ridiculous character (the guy wears make-up and a purple suit!), and made him into a legitimate and frightening villain. His predecessor in the role was JACK NICKOLSON, for heaven’s sake, and those are some big shoes to fill, although Nickolson's Joker was very different. But Ledger filled his shoes well and in his own unique way.

But all that would have been true whether he had died shortly afterwards or not.

I’m beginning to feel that the masses are seeing the movie and praising Ledger’s performance not because it was excellent, but because it was his last. If I were an actor, I would want people to admire my work on its own merits, not based on the circumstances of my life that surround it.

(Interjection: For all those who stumble upon this blog, I would also like to clarify that Heath Ledger did NOT commit suicide. He died of an accidental drug overdose. He had been taking prescription drugs in an effort to deal with anxiety and insomnia, and had an adverse reaction to the mixing of different prescriptions and dosages. Stupid, yes, but not intentionally suicidal.)

I wonder how many people sat in the theatre and thought “This is this guy’s last movie.” I admit the thought crossed my mind, but it was more along the lines of “How many more incredible things could we have seen from this actor if he had stayed with us for a little longer?” It made me wonder about James Dean, and if the hype and talk and attitude was similar.

I feel like perhaps I’m being heartless. But I will agree that Heath Ledger’s death was and IS tragic. I don’t know if I’d call “The Dark Knight” his “swan song,” but I will agree that it was an incredible performance to end his career with.

I guess I’m just a snob. Being an actor myself, I get annoyed when the masses feel qualified to judge the product of something very few of them have any idea about the process of creating. I can say that I know a good carpentry job when I see one…if its functional and not leaking, I know the carpenter was good. But I wouldn’t dream of being able to critique the building of a home…I wouldn’t know what I was talking about. Uta Hagen says one of the problems with this field is that everyone feels they have a right to be a critic.

Sorry, general public, I’m waxing art elitist in this regard, but I’m going to say that critiquing acting requires qualifications too.

And to all of those who have those qualifications, I hope your thoughts on Heath Ledger’s performance would be mostly the same if he was still with us. Because his portrayal of The Joker deserves it. Admire Ledger’s incredible acting, but on its own merits. Throw out the crutches of his untimely death. Heath’s talents can stand on their own feet.

Heath Ledger small-thumb

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree. I found myself not thinking that I admired him more because it was his last film (which, incidentally, it's not; look it up on IMDB and he was in another movie that's now is post-production), but that I was just saddened that we wouldn't get to see more of his talent. I miss him, because he's a brilliant actor, and I wish he could have lived longer to create more. Luckily, the people I know admire him for real reasons: his incredible acting. I'm glad you liked the movie (I LOVED it) and I love you!