This week has been a difficult one for followers of popular culture, as two giants of entertainment sadly passed away. In honour of them and their impact on culture, I decided to dedicate a post to their memories.
The news first broke that David Bowie had sadly passed away two days after his 69th birthday from a battle with cancer he had kept out of the public eye. It is nearly impossible to overstate his impact on culture, from music to movies he has changed the landscape forever. Rising to fame in the 60s and 70s, he challenged stereotypes of music through his elaborate style and his creation of various personas throughout his career. For examples of this one need only watch a few of his music videos for songs from several of his albums, as this will allow you to both see and hear his forever changing style. However his impact on culture was not restricted to music, as he developed an acting career alongside, starring in several films, including a role as Andy Warhol in the film Basquiat. Of course, none of his roles in film ever reached the fame of his character of Jareth, the goblin king, in Jim Henson’s classic fantasy film Labyrinth, which happens to be one of my favourite films from my youth. Of course, Bowie was also the inspiration for numerous creators, ranging from artists, other musicians and directors, one of which was James Gunn, who admitted that the music and characters developed by David Bowie helped him to create the Marvel Studios film Guardians of the Galaxy. He was also an advocate for freedom of gender and sexuality, fusing this with his characters in an effort to encourage discussion, but also because he believed in expressing himself, and all of these characters were in a way part of himself. He will forever be missed, and his music will continue to inspire many for generations to come.
Unfortunately, this week also saw us lose the talented and incredible actor Alan Rickman, whose roles have similarly defined cinema and many of them have become cultural icons. His first big screen role was as the villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard, a figure whose villainy has reached levels of infamy a very few roles have, and given that this was his first role shows the level of talent that he has possessed throughout his career. His following roles in films such as Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Galaxy Quest and Love Actually only reaffirm his position as an incredible actor. But for many millions, myself included, Alan Rickman will forever hold a place in our hearts playing the potions master Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, which I feel to have been one of the most ingenious casting decisions ever made. His ominous and yet memorable tone of voice were perfectly pitched to play the dry-witted and snide character, and his heart-breaking performance in the final film of the franchise once again reinforces his position as a great actor. Of course his voice is one of the most famous things about him, and again it was brilliantly well suited to the paranoid android Marvin in the film version of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Of course, we will all be granted to witness a few more performances of his in films that have yet to be released, but the world has definitely lost a brilliant actor this week.
However, neither of these men will ever be forgotten, and their impact and inspiration will go on through the films and music they have left us. They will be kept with us. Always.