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Christopher Plummer: Expression through Words

Christopher Plummer
Rest In Peace

As you are probably well aware, the past Friday (February 5th) the world witnessed the passing of Christopher Plummer, who could only be described as a grand master of his craft, may he eternally rest in peace. In view of this event, I would like to take this occasion head on, to explore and recommend to all the viewers that maybe aren’t as familiar with Plummer’s entire body of work, some of my personal preferences from his outstanding repertoire. 

Firstly, the iconic “Sound of Music” shouldn’t be a topic for discussion here. It is undoubtedly Christopher Plummer’s most famous role in any motion picture throughout his entire career and it is easy to see why, especially if we take into account its original time of release. His sensitivity and musical talent lend themselves perfectly for the journey of Captain Von Trapp.  Secondly, I would like to encourage everyone reading this to watch “Christopher Plummer: A Man For All Stages” and if it were possible, access any video footage or purchase any live recording of Christopher Plummer performing on stage. As movie watchers we may sometimes forget the palpable difference between  a riveting movie performance and a raw live monologue delivery; and we shouldn’t. If this is not possible; the film “Barrymore” (although not great) can provide you with an outstanding Plummer recreation of one of his best reviewed works on stage.     

With that being said, let me state the obvious: Plummer was at his best (on screen work) usually when he had someone to bounce off of. Not only because he himself would shine brightly but because he would do it without ever eclipsing his partner. A clear example would be in the highly recommended movies “A Beautiful Mind” and “The Insider”, where he presents excellent performances that stand out but more importantly enhances the performances of Al Pacino and (in both cases) Russel Crowe, the later actually won a Best Actor Academy Award by playing John Nash. However, like any talented actor in order to see the best of his work you need to free the stage and give his performance not necessarily the spotlight but something more escential… emotion.

There’s an interview where Plummer elaborates how he loves literature and how he feels that words themselves have power and actually (with the right delivery) save the actor a lot of work. Words express everything that the audience needs to experience. Even though this idea clearly derives from his heavy Shakespearean endeavours, as well as his upbringing, I believe that Christophers greatest performances mostly stay true to his statement. Films like “Beginners” and “The Last Station” let him command great emotion from the characters surrounding him and channel it towards the audience. He thrives with these characters, that have deep compelling stories of their own and manages to make everyone understand that those characters show in their faces and put in their words, a life that started long before the audience was ever invited. 

This is definitely not a tier list of any kind, it’s just the brief comment  that popped in my mind while reading the news a couple of days ago. If theater is not your thing nor big drama pieces, then remember the times Plummer disguised himself in popular blockbusters and shared his craft with geeks in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”, or the time he entertained and maybe even frightened some families as Charles Muntz in Pixar’s “Up”. Either way, one thing is certain, the range this man exposed for his craft during his career is something that will forever remain as a prime example of the artistic possibilities of expressing ourselves through art, particularly through spoken words.  

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