This month's column includes two parts:
The Crossing, starring Crowe and his real-life significant other, Danielle Spencer, brought to mind three things:
1. Russell's screen presence.
2. Australian psyche on World War II heroes.
3. Russell's place in everyone's lives.
1. Ten years ago, a natural reaction to this movie would have been “Wow, this actor has screen presence. I wonder how far he’ll go.”
This question has been answered a decade later. Of course, this is easy to say after-the-fact, but it cannot be denied that other actors in Crowe's caliber, too, will be discovered.
2. How does The Crossing show a part of the Australian psyche? There is a strong sense of the many viewpoints regarding Australian World War II Heroes. First, there is the viewpoint of the younger generation. This is shown at the beginning when Russell and Spencer make fun of his mother and her dedication to honor the WWII memorial that is dedicated to her husband. This frustration of the "worshipping" of these heroes is shown when Russell smashes the wreath against the memorial. Instead of finding comfort in his father during a time when Spencer has revealed she doesn't want to get married, Russell instead shows his anger at the memorial. However, at the end, Russell is shown that he has joined the military because his life was completely changed at the train crossing. This shows how his previous view of his father's "heroism" has changed into respect.
Furthermore, the movie shows a scene of WWII veterans marching in a parade and how the small town takes great pride in this. As a "society/small town" this is a great tradition to be proud of. However, the movie does also show how the "love troubles" of Russell and Spencer becomes the focus during the parade. So possibly the director is making this statement of how people's troubles in the present are just as significant as the "parade."
Another view is presented in TOFOG's song, Memorial Day. The grandfather in the story, rather than take part in the parade as a celebrated and decorated soldier, instead opts not to wear his medal and watches the parade from the outskirts. Russell finds significance in this because he writes and sings about. The song shows how the grandfather is practicing what he believes even if it's not the popular thing to do.
3. How does Russell place in our lives? This depends on how old the person is that you are asking this question. Why? Because as teenagers, our actor preferences differ from today, many years later.
As a teenager, I thought Mark Hamill would go into prolific moviedom. I never thought it would be Harrison Ford. But I am glad Harrison Ford did go on to make many movies including the Indiana Jones franchise.
To support my choice of Mark Hamill, he helped “make” Star Wars and its continuing legacy. My favorite shot of him is when is he looking out at the suns as they are going down. He appears to be dreaming of a bigger world he can take part in, which we all know he eventually does. This Star Wars legacy continues with Attack of the Clones. Fortunately, Ewan McGregor gets plenty of screen time. He is another actor who is worthwhile to watch.
Everyone has preferences and these three actors, Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Crowe represent the stars that have a place in my entertainment choices. Many stars have come before and many more will come after. Hollywood helped “make” them. There is the cinematographer, the director, the costars, etc. who added their talents to “make” these stars. Then there is the writer, who must breathe life and create a world for the actors, initially--not an easy task.
Even with all that contribute to the making of a star, one cannot deny that screen presence (Crowe), the creation of a franchise (Mark Hamill and Star Wars), and an identifiable character (Harrison Ford and Indiana Jones) must be considered as traits that help make a star.
So if one day, a program will be made to count the top 100 movie stars, not only the sexy ones, (I’m surprised one hasn’t been made yet), these three actors will get at least one vote each, one for my teenage years, one for my college-and-after years, and one for today, my older years.
They represent the dreams of youth, the adventure sought after all those years of schooling, and the inevitable, deeper years.
Letter From a Russell Fan
These two letters are from Rhoda V. McHugh. Her e-mail is RhodaM41@aol.com. Rhoda shares her view of why she's a Russell fan and her belief reiterates the many points in the Russell Crowe electronic book:
"Good morning Marina. I have recently bought "The Sum of Us" and "Hammers Over The Anvil." I have viewed both of them at least five times and am struck by the beauty of these two films, each for different reasons. In the "Sum of Us" the love and dedication between the father and the son touched my heart, and Russell's quest for someone to love and share his life made me cry for him. In "Hammers" he was perfection in every way. The opening scene has got to be one of the most beautiful scenes in cinema history. Everything is outstanding, his coming out of the water, his ease of movement with the horses, no hesitation moving from one horse to another and of course his body was something else. It played like a beautiful ballet. Whoever filmed that scene should have won an award, but I believe without Russell it would not have played the same. My question is, why do you think the movie going audience and the critics don't address these two movies. "Romper Stomper" got a lot of hype, rightly so, but these two movies should have made an impact on Hollywood, the public and the critics. Perhaps it did and I missed it!!! "Hammers" should be utilized as a teaching tool. He was perfect in every aspect--and never an acting lesson! These thoughts are coming from a movies buff of sixty years. This man is the best thing to come along the movie business in many many years. If the press would just leave him alone the public could judge him for his work, which is where the treasure lies."
"You know Marina, even in the movies he has taken on, that went nowhere, he stands out. Have you seen "Proof of Life"? Taylor Hackford did not do his job well. He didn't flesh out the characters and yet you can't take your eyes off of Russell when he is on screen. The physicality of the man is beautiful to watch. If you haven't seen "Virtuosity" yet watch closely there. The story line was not great, but Russell was outstanding. It was obvious he was having fun, and he stole the show from Denzel Washington. He does the John Travolta "Saturday Night Fever" walk and every part of his body is in perfect rhythm to the Bee Gees music. I don't believe Russell will ever go Hollywood, and that will be his cross to bear, because Hollywood is never going to accept him unless he capitulates. He is a breath of fresh air."
These letters touch on some of those things that the Crowe electronic book shares. Get your own copy now!