On Bowie, Rickman, and Angélil

While I’m in the middle of finishing up a few blog posts (for here and other sites), I want to share a quick tribute to three men in the entertainment world who passed away last week. Each lost their battles to cancer, and each have had an impact (some more than others) on the movie fan or music lover in me. 

David Bowie

To be truthful, I’m more aware of David Bowie’s contributions to music and film than I’m an actual fan – but it’s not for a lack of trying. He just falls into the category of “I haven’t checked out his work yet.” I’m not sure if his music would appeal to me… but I do know that The Wallflowers covered his song “Heroes” and other artists have sampled from or recorded renditions of other tracks of his. And his music clearly still has an audience. In the wake of his death, Bowie’s brand new album Blackstar debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Albums Chart, making it his first top-selling album in the U.S.

Bowie’s movies, though. That, I can say something about. The only one I’ve seen so far is “The Prestige,” and his portrayal of real-life inventor Nikolas Tesla (and his appearance in the film in general) was a pleasant surprise. It was cool and charismatic, a balanced blend of scientist and sage. He serves as a logical yet humane contrast to Hugh Jackman’s Robert Angier, an aristocratic magician obsessed with outsmarting his rival. If you want the above compilation of some of Bowie’s scenes from “The Prestige,” you’ll see what I mean.

Notice that I said “The Prestige” is the only Bowie film I’ve watched to date. Yes, I haven’t seen his most famous movie “Labyrinth.”  And yes, I need to fix that. It sounds like it has a mix of fantasy, music, comedy, and weirdness I’d appreciate. (Plus, it’s a Jim Henson movie! With puppets and animatronics!) So, if anything, Bowie’s death is a sorely needed reminder that I should make time for “Labyrinth.”

Alan Rickman

You might remember him as Hans Gruber in “Die Hard,” Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility,” or the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” But to many, including myself, Alan Rickman is most loved for his role as the coldly sarcastic yet deeply complex Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. And oh, did Rickman nail this character. He portrayed Snape just as I pictured him in the books: rigid, arrogant, and increasingly complicated as the series goes on. His strongest performance is definitely the finale, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” (The above clip is from that film.) Once Snape’s true loyalties are finally revealed, it’s hard to feel anything but admiration and sympathy for Snape, no matter how much you hated him for being so awful to Harry in the past.

If I had to pick my favorite Snape scene from the Harry Potter films… it’ll seem odd, but it’s the opening scene for “Deathly Hallows Part 2.” Rickman doesn’t deliver any icy dialogue or calculating stares here. Instead, it’s all about Snape’s silence, and the way he watches students march into Hogwarts. If you’ve read the entire book series and watched all the previous movies, you know everything that must be swirling through his mind then. And if you look at the subtleties in Rickman’s expression, you can see how much it’s weighing Snape down. It’s the perfect beginning for this film.

So, thank you, Alan Rickman, for not simply playing Severus Snape, but for understanding Snape so well and becoming him.

René Angélil

There was such a Twitter buzz about Alan Rickman’s passing that I didn’t find out about René Angélil’s (which happened the same day) until two days later. And in truth, René was more of a “behind-the-scenes” contributor than Rickman or David Bowie. But what a contribution he made by finding Celine Dion, one of my favorite singers from my childhood and teen years, and letting her unleash her powerful, emotive voice for all the world to hear. Her music was a constant in our household, and the first musical “bonding” my mother and I had. We saw Celine Dion together during her Falling Into You Tour in 1996 – and not only was she funny and engaging with the audience, but her voice was even better live than on CD. “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now” (see above) was one of my highlights from that night.

People might comment about the age difference or how Celine and René’s relationship shouldn’t have evolved beyond protégée and manager. None of that matters here. What’s more important is René discovered a singer who changed the music world forever, and now that singer is mourning the loss of her husband. So, René, thank you for bringing us Celine and reminding us that music – and voice – can truly be magic.

Rest in peace, gentlemen. And dear readers, let’s hope we can one day find a cure for cancer so that other people, including our loved ones, don’t have to suffer as other cancer victims have.

16 thoughts on “On Bowie, Rickman, and Angélil

  1. Lovely Sara:-) What a way to start the year, right? Also Glenn Frey is another great loss recently, the Eagles really shaped my teen years, so that one hurt. So sad for all of them, thanks for remembering:-)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tammy. 🙂

      Yes, it’s been a gloomy start to the year entertainment-wise. I did hear about Glenn Frey’s passing, too. I didn’t grow up listening to the Eagles (my parents weren’t fans of their music), but it’s always sad to hear news like that.

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  2. A lovely tribute, Sara… Alan Rickman didn’t ever turn in anything other than a superb performance – he was simply an amazing actor – for me, his was the most memorable contribution to The Deathly Hallows and certainly the one that moved me to tears. And just as importantly, he was a very nice man by all accounts… As for David Bowie – for me the outstanding performance I recall from him was in ‘Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence’ which is a stunning film.

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  3. This was beautiful Sara.
    Glenn Frey too – so tragic 😦

    “Let’s Dance,” of David Bowie’s is one of my favorite fun songs ever (and yes, Bowie was one of my many inspirations for Jupiter Jive). I also enjoyed his portrayal of Tesla, and I’ve never seen all of Labyrinth! (I loved what I saw, but I just don’t watch movies very often)

    Celine Dion was one of my first all-time favorites, and similarly, a musical bond with my dad (he was the big fan in our house).

    And Alan Rickman? I knew him first as Colonel Brandon, but liked him best as Snape as well. For all of the reasons you listed.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it’s sad about Glenn Frey, too. That happened while I was in the middle of drafting this post… and unfortunately I didn’t listen to much Eagles music growing up, mostly because my parents didn’t, either. So I feel bad leaving him out, but his didn’t have as much of an effect on me. :/

      You haven’t seen Labyrinth yet either? *whew* I feel a little less alone now. *blushes* But I’ve resolved to watch the whole thing now. How about you?

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      • My dad was an Eagles fan in addition to Celine, so I actually was familiar with them from a young age. Don’t feel bad – I loved this because it was heartfelt.

        I DO plan on watching the rest of Labyrinth. It seems like such a “me” movie (weird fairytale stuff and pageantry and all that jazz). I haven’t seen a ton of iconic movies though. I make my film buff friends cringe.
        But that aside, Labyrinth is on my watch-next list. We’ll have to compare notes.

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  4. Let’s hope that, Sara. I lost my mum to cancer and nothign would make me happier thatn knowing that nobody will suffer for this horrible illness again.

    I didn’t know René Angélil, but I was a David Bowie fan when I was a kid, and of course I admired Alan Rickman in all his interpretations. They were both remarcable human beings in addition to brilliant artists. Their passing really touched me.

    Do watch Labyrith, that’s one of my favourite films. True, it hasn’t aged particularly well, but I like its 1980s feel and Bowie’s interpretation is haunting 🙂

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  5. I didn’t know the others well, but the loss of Rickman hit me hard. Every time he showed up in a movie, I couldn’t help but grin, even when he played a serious role. I loved his role as Severus Snape the most; he pulled off that character so well that he practically was that character! I’ll miss him.

    I need to see Labyrinth too. 🙂

    I’m so sorry to hear you lost 3 of your grandparents to cancer. It is a tragic virus, and I hope one day there will be a cure for all types.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Alan Rickman’s death saddened me so much. He was such a fantastic actor and he seemed like a great person too. I loved him in every roll I’ve seen him play. 😦

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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  7. Pingback: Time Flies!: January 2016 | Sara Letourneau's Official Website & Blog

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