The Late, Great Alan Rickman

If you’ve been living under a rock this past week, then you may not have heard that the beloved Alan Rickman has passed away this last week due to pancreatic cancer. This has hit me particularly hard, as I’m sure it has others that have grown up watching Harry Potter and his love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with Professor Snape. Naturally, I binge-watched all eight HP films once I heard the news. I regret nothing.

Although Alan Rickman was known mostly for his villainous roles like in HP, Die Hard,
and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, he was infinitely kind and proudly demonstrated his “sophisticated humor on multiple occasions, like the time he pranked Daniel Radcliffe on set…

Here is the actual prank, for anyone curious:

As tribute to his career, I wanted to draw attention to some of his films, currently residing in our collection at Media Services.


Where else to start, but the film that helped launch his career.

die hard   diehard

Die Hard – Hans Gruber

In his first big role, Mr. Rickman leads his group of armed bank robbers in a heist that leads to a Christmas party being taken hostage. It is revealed the hostages are a distraction while Gruber and his men steal $640 million from the company’s vault. This is an excellent movie choice, if you’re looking for action and adventure!

sweeneytodd   turpin

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street – Judge Turpin

In the most evil role I’ve ever seen him act in, Rickman plays secondary character, Judge Turpin. After his corrupt dealings with Benjamin Barker a, which led to Barker’s unlawful arrest, Turpin takes advantage of Lucy Barker. Benjamin Barker takes on the alias ‘Sweeney Todd’ seeking revenge. If you like anything Tim Burton, this musical is a definite must-see.

loveactually   harry

Love Actually – Harry

His role in this film was a little bitter sweet. Although there are happy endings all around in this one, Harry and his wife still have some things to work through by the time the credits role, without much in lieu of closure for the audience. Still, it’s happier than it is upsetting! It’s a great film to watch during the holidays!

sense   sense

Sense and Sensibility – Colonel Brandon

As probably the most romantic film he’s ever been in, Sense and Sensibility lets him show his softer side as his character pursues the affections of Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet). Another favorite Rickman of mine, though I am partial to anything Jane Austen. Check this out the next time you’re looking for a good chick flick!

butler1   butler2

The Butler – Ronald Reagan

This movie tells the story of Cecil Gaines and his life as he serves as a butler in the White House for multiple Presidents. Although controversial, especially for the portrayal of Ronald Reagan and his wife as being racist, it is a powerful film and one that should not be neglected. Luckily, we have it at Media Services for your viewing pleasure.

quest1   quest2

Galaxy Quest – Alexander Dane/”Dr. Lazarus”

He holds his own, unexpectedly, in this comedy about actors living off their fame from their days on a once popular sci-fi TV show. They are forced to take on their roles again when aliens come to earth for their help. Definitely not the villain we’re used to from Rickman, but he was brilliantly funny in his role of a typical egotistical actor.This film was a favorite of mine during my childhood.

dogma1   dogma2

Dogma – Metatron

In this controversial comedy, Rickman acts as the voice of God, enlisting the help of an abortion clinic employee to help stop two fallen angels from gaining access to Heaven. Overall, this film was praised by critics and fans alike.

And, of course, the list wouldn’t be complete without his most renowned role…

hp   snape

Harry Potter Series – Severus Snape

I grew up with these films, so they have a special place in my heart, just as Mr. Rickman does. These are the films that made him a legend for so many. He was the perfect Professor Snape and J.K. Rowling knew it herself when he was cast. In order to prepare Rickman for his role as ****SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE LIVING UNDER ROCK MENTIONED ABOVE**** a double agent for Dumbledore, Rickman was informed by Rowling the ending to the series. This gave him an edge over the character and he took his role very seriously.

You will be dearly missed, Mr. Rickman.



**All media mentioned above is available at Media Services**

What are the Oscars?

The Oscars are a behemoth. For 85 years, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has been awarding honors to the outstanding (mostly American, largely anglophone) films of each year, and in so doing have created a sort of canon (a strange canon, admittedly; where are Badlands, Do the Right Thing, and Paris, Texas?). Engaging critically with any canon is important not only toward understanding the biases (and potential shortcomings) of a list and its originating institution, but also toward a larger project of recognizing our cultural psyche. It’s too simple, of course, to suggest that the movies we create and experience directly reflect the “id” of our collective consciousness, but it is valuable to try and understand the ways in which its products reify the structural underpinnings of the sociocultural sphere.

In other words, how do the movies we celebrate reflect what we care about? What do this year’s films suggest are our larger concerns? Is it: anxiety about the digital sphere and the possibility of human connection therein? the persistence of white guilt and the problematics of race relations? lineage and generational tensions in how we narrate our lives? the tyranny of neoliberal capitalism, and its attendant psychosocial fatigue? all of the above? Obviously these are simplistic assessments of complex films and their themes, not to mention that there were many other films made outside of the insular Academy candidate pool, but these questions offer a starting point, if no easy answers, toward understanding our own patterns and anxieties.

Continue reading “What are the Oscars?”