Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Heath Ledger dead at 28

Heath Ledger and Matt Damon in Terry Gilliam's Brother's Grimm

Mortality is even more pronounced when it happens to a film star, especially a film star who dies young, and more so when it is someone from your own country. The circumstances of Heath's death are fairly bland but mysterious - found dead in a New York apartment, having died of a cardiac arrest. The news states that there were pills found near his body but no specifics on the kind of pills, they could have been Aspirin or Multi-Vitamin tablets for all we know, and if I bit the dust in my flat there would probably be a packet of Ovalteenies somewhere near by.

Actually it was a possible overdose that did him in, the pills found were over the counter prescription medication, sleeping pills. Was it suicide? Clumsiness? Or just plain bad luck? I guess we'll know sooner or later, but the Police have not ruled out "foul-play", as Heath was found by his housekeeper and a visiting masseuse - he was naked, lying on his bed. We could have a possible Michael Hutchins scenario.

I wasn't particularly interested in Heath Ledger's films, and I never saw Brokeback Mountain although I did sense a commitment to acting that is rare for "Celluloid Heroes" as the Kink song suggests. I should say that I actually enjoyed Brother's Grimm, not only being a huge Gilliam fan but also finding Heath Ledger's role to be decently performed.

The biggest twist for me in this terrible hand out of fate is that Heath Ledger was currently filming "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus", a Terry Gilliam film co-written by Charles McKeown (One of the co-writers of Brazil, Erik the Viking, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen) and so the curse continues to follow Terry Gilliam putting into his life yet another doomed production, let's not forget that Jean Rochefort who was set to play Don Quixote in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote suffered a slipped disc and was unable to continue filming - and so now during production Gilliams leading man happens to die. There's going to be a follow up to Lost in La Mancha for certain.

So how much of the film is complete? Can Gilliam claim to have in his vault the last ever Heath Ledger film? Will in another twist the DVD sales and rentals of Brother's Grimm soar as Heath Ledger fans honor the man by having it in their complete collection or those who really didn't know Heath's work seek out to watch a Gilliam film normally that would pass them by just to brush up on their Heathness? I am being Grimm, I know, but this would give Gilliam a sudden burst of royalties that might see funding through for The Man who Killed Don Quixote or Defective Detective. Has Ledger inadvertently given his life for Gilliam?

Who knows? Heath Ledger will now go down in history alongside other celebrities who passed away hastily like Kurt Cobain, Jimmy Dean, Buddy Holly, Michael Hutchins, Marilyn Monroe, and have his work celebrated in all sorts of hankering ways.

All this and in "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus", Heath Ledger hangs himself.

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