Episode 722: Passive Protagonists

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2 Responses

  1. Sam says:

    The first one that came to my mind was Jamie Foxx’s character in Collateral.

  2. The movie that popped into my head the instant I heard the topic, based on the observation of a friend, was Hitchcock’s Notorious. Think about who Cary Grant was to film-goers at the time. Not necessarily the setpiece scenes, but the movie’s throughline suspense all but hangs on our waiting for Cary Grant to be Cary Grant. That final scene, which hangs on a thread, might not have worked without this buildup. Fortunately, he’s good enough that we don’t completely need the context. I saw the movie when I was about 12; I certainly didn’t know Grant’s persona as a thing, and I remember wondering, “Why does this guy keep holding back?”

    Also, when Zeffirelli’s Hamlet came out, an English professor, renting from a video store in which I worked, said she was glad Gibson had rescued the character of Hamlet from Olivier’s passive doldrums. I guess that was a novelty at some point, not the way the character had always been played, and if you watch this version, without crossing the story at all, Gibson’s Hamlet is 100% the focused puppet-master. It was a helpful observation for me.

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