Heath Ledger takes The Dark Knight from a good movie to a spellbinding, edge-of-your-seat, fantastic one. All week at work I’ve seen and read 8 million stories on how great he is, how he’s the highlight of the film. I’ve rolled my eyes a little (albeit while getting increasingly more interested/excited about the film). There’s all this buzz about how the film is Oscar worthy and Ledger’s performance particularly so. And I’ve gotten a little jaded by it – thinking that it’s probably not necessarily about the quality of the fim or his performance as much as it is about how tragic it is that he’s not here to see how well the movie is going to do, experience the joy of being part of this project. He’s dead – so of course he’ll get the award, be memorialized. I admit this sounds rather… horrible… but to be fair – I also had only his other movies that I’ve seen to go off of (based on his acting skills), and as much as I love 10 Things I hate About You, it’s not exactly the kind of acting that canonizes you. I have been so excited to see his performance, see if it lives up to everythign that’s being said, though.
So. I went and saw THe Dark Knight at 12:40 with Cori – just got back. It.was.AMAZING. AMAZING. and Heath Ledger – oh my god. I was moved, actually moved by his performance. I can’t even think of another performance where an actor has so drastically transformed into the character they are playing. If I hadn’t known it was Heath Ledger playing the role, I would have had NO idea that it was him. Nothing. no clue. He ewas BRILLIANT. oh my god. It took my breath away and left me speechless… I just found myself staring at the screen… filled with joy when he was on it (even when I was shaking because I was terrified of what was going on in the film). He lit up the screen and stole the movie. And I almost said just there that it was “most evident” – but no – he’s just that great every single moment he’s on screen. And it’s the nuances in his perforamnce – the little things he adds to the character – the smacking of the lips, the small noise effects in certain words, hand gestures, body movement. It is EVERYTHING. It was like watching everything Ive ever learned about acting come to life in front of my eyes. He was not Heath Ledger playing a role – he WAS the Joker.
I wrote a post about his death when it happened… and how I felt personally moved and upset by it. I had never understood that before – how people feel so touched by a life or death of someone they’ve never known. But when Heath died… I got it. He was the first one from my generation, really, to pass away. And it’s like – it brings a very visceral feeling about life to the forefront – it’s in us, literally and then one day it’s not. His death was already so tragic… and maybe this is inappropriate to say – but seeing this film and his absolute genius makes me ache for the life he didn’t get to live. It makes me wonder about the talent of so many people who never get to showcase it like that. And it also makes me so immensely joyful that he got a chance to play this part so that his career legacy will be this kind of greatness. He won’t just be remembered as the sexy romantic comedy icon; he’ll be remembered as going above and beyond in the world of acting. And he’ll be remembered for just the his sheer gift and passion for his art.
RIP Heath. This was a performance of a lifetime.