Thursday, 24 January 2008

Heath Ledger: Why?

It appears that the 28-year old US actor Heath Ledger has died of a drugs overdose. I thought we had got beyond that even in Hollywood society and River Phoenix's death in 1993 at the age of 23 was the last of this kind and that they would go through rehab and managed to survive even if dimmed. Clearly that is not the case and there are still so many easily available drugs around that a movie star with a growing reputation could snuff himself out so early. I know Ledger has attracted most attention for 'Brokeback Mountain' (2005) for which he got an Oscar nomination, but I would also point you, if you are doing a deserved reviewing of his filmography look at '10 Things I Hate About You' (1999), a high school adaptation of 'The Taming of the Shrew' by William Shakespeare and probably the best of such adaptations (I am not counting 'Romeo + Juliet' (1996) as it is an interpretation as all the lines are Shakespeare's) and always gets good reviews for a whole range of viewers, in which Ledger plays the quiet but rugged hero of the movie really. A similar part but with him clearly centre stage is in 'A Knight's Tale' (2001) which I thoroughly enjoy. Paul Bettany as Geoffrey Chaucer is a treat but Ledger plays the hero's part very well and again it is enjoyable, possibly not high culture, but certainly a cut above a lot of stuff that comes out of Hollywood. It is sad that the cineam going public has been robbed of a rising star that whilst attractive, had a lot more than the good looking boy actors and it is likely that he would have developed into a real draw for any movie he appeared in. Why he had to throw that away for some hours' buzz, I guess we never know if we do not live in that kind of environment. However, I do know we are going to be poorer without him.

P.P. Since I produced this posting it has come to light that Ledger died accidentally from a bad combination of prescription tablets. I am glad that it was not as a result of narcotics use, but it is still a shame that he was in such a situation that he had a need for such a range of medicines and the cause of his death does not alter the loss to cinema that it has resulted in.

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