Monday, 22 November 2010
Horrific Beards I Have Known – The Sci-Fi Edition
Flash Gordon (1980) and just generally, in everything, in life, always
Brian Blessed is quite definitely one of my absolute favourite actors, no people, on the planet ever. My husband and I quite often in everyday life spontaneously decide to have ‘Talk Like Brian Blessed Hours’. The man is a clearly a great big, mountainous, booming bloody genius, and that’s before we get anywhere near the beard. Brian is a beard devotee. Brian’s beard is a constant, it’s a life choice, it’s a personality all of its very own, and, frankly, it’s the kind of beard that you could trap bears in.
Flash Gordon epitomises everything I love; it’s brash, it’s camp, it’s kitsch, it’s bright and colourful and it’s full of British character actors and pervy costumes. It’s pretty much exactly how I see the world and how I want it to be. It’s also soundtracked by the pantomime dames of rock, Queen.
As Prince Vultan leader of the Hawk People Brian steals the show. He is a winged vision in metal pants. There aren’t many men who can carry that look off, but Brian does with dignity and aplomb. The might of his beard in this performance is undeniable, surrounded by glittering, regal gold the beard gives the impression that if left to its devices not only could it merrily take down Emperor Ming the Merciless it could quite easily give him a good shouting at, straighten him out and get him a job with good prospects in the Mingo City civil service. The beard is that authoritative and mighty. It sits about Brian’s face saying: yes, I am wearing a combination of leather, lamé and feathers, what are you going to do about it?
It would be remiss of me, in any discussion pertaining to the man, the legend, Brian Blessed not to include at least a mention my favourite performance of his as Richard, The Duke of York in The Black Adder. There can’t ever have been a role more perfect for any actor than this one. Brian is comedy perfection in this, the most underrated of the Blackadder series, he gleefully hams it up as the warmongering Richard IV who likes nothing more than fighting, banqueting, hunting, drinking and bellowing. In The Black Adder Brian’s beard takes the bold step to allow the hair to join in the fun, the result – a level of hirsute insanity never before, or since, witnessed by the eyes of man. If there was ever an actor you could believe defeated an entire Turkish horde armed only with a small knife used for peeling fruit it’s Brian.
A hundred years ago when I thought that the theatre was an appropriate profession for me I quite often found myself turning to Brian and the lessons learned from him, and I became a proponent for the ‘if in doubt shout’ school of acting. Now, obviously Mr. Blessed, despite being the figurehead of this school that I made up in head, is never in doubt, he’s a great British actor of immense talent and experience and his characteristic booming voice comes not from any incapability but from skill and his very nature, the power and dynamism he embodies that allows him to command audiences the world over. However, for the less accomplished actor, this is a very useful technique as you can quite easily pass off a lack of talent for deeply considered character development resulting in uncontainable volcanic emotion and passion with very little actual thought or effort. (While I generally got good reviews, I was quite often called ‘dangerous’, ‘combustible’ and ‘an alarming presence’ as an actor and I’m fairly sure these weren’t really compliments).
Apparently you now can get Brian on your satnav. I can’t think of anything better than that. TURN RIGHT NOW!!!!
Brian Blessed has committed himself to the beard probably more than any other man before him. And his beard is the best, it’s a tremendous specimen envied the world over. I’d go as far as far as to say that God is jealous of Brian’s beard. In hundreds of years when societies have fallen and what remains of the earth is a sparsely populated blasted wasteland the survivors will huddle round fires into the night and they will tell tales of Brian’s beard and it’s glory and it will give them hope.
Brian Blessed: actor, adventurer, author, protector and shelterer of animals, legend, may you continue adventuring at high volume for years to come and may your beard remain as bushy and as magnificent.