In Memoriam: Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

This has not been a good week for pop culture.

I was devastated to learn this morning of the death of yet another of my heroes, actor Alan Rickman. Mostly known for playing villains with superb finesse, Rickman also shined in the sympathetic roles—both stage and screen—bringing sassy ill-humor to the voice of god, heroic heart to a has-been scifi television actor, and aching heartbreak to one of cinema’s most notorious anti-heroes. I could list a dozen excellent films that showcase Rickman’s superlative talent, but for now I’ll just mention one: 1991’s Truly, Madly, Deeply.

When Nina (Juliet Stevenson) cannot get over the death of her beloved Jaime (Alan Rickman), his ghost returns to help her deal with the grief. Directed by Anthony Minghella (of The English Patient and The Talented Mr. Ripley fame), this poignant early-90s BBC production is a little-known gem, and it features what is perhaps Alan Rickman’s most moving screen role.

As the idealized lover who returns from the grave to sacrifice his own memory to the cause of helping a loved one come to terms with loss, Rickman is by turns tender and capricious, charming and exasperating, and through his performance the audience learns profound lessons about about life and death, grief and recovery. For those who are mourning the loss of this great thespian, Truly, Madly, Deeply might be just what the doctor ordered.

It’s a difficult film to get hold of these days, but it can be viewed here.

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