Monday, January 03, 2011
Remembering Pete Postlethwaite
Today the sad news has broken of the death of a true acting legend. Pete Postlethwaite, 1946 - 2011, has been visible on both stage and screen for at least the last twenty years. He found a niche, on screen, of playing roles and starring in films that looked at the world from a different angle.
The first film I remember seeing him in is Brassed Off. As someone who was born during the winter of the Coal Miners Strike, he managed to bring to life a hard-approach (during difficult times) that epitomised a sentiment once called 'Keep B*gg*ring On'. While playing a prickly character on screen, the entire film moved along in a way that made a deep impression and ensured that I would never consider unemployment as a 'price' worth paying for a new period of economic growth.
Fast forward over a decade and Pete managed to reinvent himself as grandfather of the future. Launched with much fanfare, 'The Age of Stupid' turned out to be a stunning documentary that allowed humanity to tell its own story in its own words. Playing the last person on earth, we see him watch as humanity explains why it continues to cling to a high-carbon lifestyle, all the while sitting (stunned) as he is now the result of humanities stupidity. While many 'eco' films come out as far too worthy, this film - thanks to Pete's understated performance - is a winner that managed to do the simplest thing. He was able to show a mirror to society and ensure everyone left the screening wondering what we would see in our own lives if we took time to stand and watch.
Outside of socially aware films sit others - most notably for Spielberg in The Lost World and has recently graced the stage to play Hamlet. However for me I'll remember Pete as a man who managed to put a face to some of the most challenging questions and problems facing society. His curmudgeonly approach will be sorely missed and his boyish enthusiasm for low-carbon lifestyles should help inspire us all to life a better, greener, life.