5 Thoughts Tangentially Related to Alan Rickman


  1. Die Hard is a legitimately fantastic film. I don’t mean that in the ironic, macho way that Joey does in Friends. It’s one of my favorite movies, brilliantly crafted and thrilling. The script tells a story of Bruce Willis saving a building from terrorists. But Die Hard goes one step deeper in the way that only great movies can: Its visuals tell a story too, one of man versus machine, of the terrifying force of modernity doing its best to destroy humanity, but a common man saying “yippe-ki-yay” and preserving our collective soul.
  2. As I grow older, I find it more and more fascinating the way that people respond to the death of the cultural forces in their lives. More specifically, I find it fascinating which cultural forces people mourn. The blogs and critics poured thousands of words into tributes when Bowie died, but — despite him being one of the six or so most influential stars in the history of rock — it barely registered in my social media circles (I think I’m a few years too young). Meanwhile, my twitter and facebook feeds yesterday were absolutely flooded with “Always” and “Alan turned to page 394 :(“. Even my wife said “no celebrity death except of my favorite author has ever affected me this much.” Catching the zeitgeist — entering the cultural consciousness of people of a certain age and backgroud — is an unpredictable and powerful thing.
  3. How is it that Love Actually is such a charming movie? Its script isn’t a bad romantic comedy… it’s NINE bad romantic comedies. I’ve thought a lot about it, and I think it really boils down to two points: 1) The cast is so damn charming. Anyone who loves romantic comedies will tell you that a solid 75% of the success is dependent on charming leads with good chemistry. Love Actually has a murderer’s row of charming British chemistry. 2) Because nine stories are packed into two hours, we never spend enough time on any one story to get really pissed off about it.
  4. Supposedly, Alec Guinness somewhat regretted Star Wars because he hated how it overshadowed the rest of his career. You can’t find an obituary of his where Obi-Wan Kenobi isn’t mentioned in the first paragraph despite a prolific, Oscar-winning career filled with mesmerizing performances. Similarly… how many “I hope he comes back as Gandalf the White!” quips will be made when (lo, the thought) Sir Ian McKellen dies? I’m not saying it’s wrong that 90%+ of the world knows Rickman for Snape. Just interesting.
  5. Severus Snape is a bad character. Okay, that’s a bit too extreme. Let me rephrase: I dislike the way Snape is lionized in the final chapters of Deathly Hallows, the way that the entire world seems to remember him as a cranky hero, not a petty bully and asshole who cause tremendous suffering even AFTER he let Lily and James Potter die. Rowling can think what she wants, but in my mind, Snape isn’t a hero — he’s a villain who still saved the day. (That said, Rickman was a FANTASTIC Snape, and I always wanted more of him on screen. Can you imagine if Rickman died before the series finished like Richard Harris?)

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One thought on “5 Thoughts Tangentially Related to Alan Rickman

  1. Almost all my favorite parts of Die Hard are random Alan Rickman moments – like “I read about them in Time Magazine” and “This time John Wayne will not ride off into the sunset with Grace Kelly.” – “That was Gary Cooper, asshole.” I love how he’s not one of those “you know, we’re actually pretty similar, you and me” villains…he’s night and day from Bruce Willis. What a great character.

    Another note on the societal aspects of mourning…I find it interesting that we’re basically only allowed to say positive things about someone after they die. If people do so when someone’s alive, there’s a lot of “Derrr get off his dick you stupid fanboy.” But then after someone dies, you’d better have nothing but glowing things to say. (I love when a known asshole dies and suddenly everyone shifts to “You know, he was kinda misunderstood but really a great guy.”) Of course, Rickman does deserve all the praise. The most perfect casting imaginable for Snape.

    PS Why on Earth is the first line in that Friends clip – “Die Hard, still great!” – worthy of a laugh track?

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