“I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I’m moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.”
I am devastated by the loss of Alan Rickman. I am also deeply saddened by the loss of David Bowie, both lost this week, at the age of sixty-nine, to cancer. But when your entire writer alter ego is hinged on the movie Die Hard, the death of Alan Rickman calls for me to alter the plan.
Thus, this special, written-on-the-fly, non-scheduled post.
When you’ve seen Die Hard as many times as I have, you realize that some of the lines, taken out of context, can seem sort of lame. Like the one I opened this post with. But I’ve watched Alan Rickman spew out those words, in the scene where Hans Gruber nabs Holly Gennero McClane, probably a thousand times, and I hope to watch it a thousand times more. Because he was just that good. The words may be silly, but they are manic and compelling and threatening all at once when you hear Alan Rickman say them as Hans Gruber.
It’s the same when he tells his henchman to “Shoot the glass.” The viewer assumes German is the native tongue of both Hans Gruber and the henchman. And he had just given some instructions in German. Why would he need to repeat it in English? (Yes, I understand that’s the way to get the English-speaking audience to understand what’s going on, but still.) I truly believe no one but Alan Rickman could have made it work as brilliantly as it did.
Because he brought so much more to those words, those lines, and really to everything I’ve ever seen him in. I’ve written before about his portrayal of Hans Gruber:
Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber stands out as one of the best bad guys in moviedom. Darth Vader and the Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang are supremely scary, but neither one nails the suave attraction like Hans Gruber.
But I’ve never written about Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (his Sheriff of Nottingham is one of the only reasons to see that movie.) And Sense and Sensibility (my friend Sabrina and I were just talking about this one last weekend), The January Man, Love Actually, Sweeney Todd. My sister just reminded me about Quigley Down Under. I also can’t imagine anyone else in the role of Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest. (By Grabthar’s Hammer, you shall be avenged!)
And of course, Severus Snape. I’ll admit I’ve never read the Harry Potter books (sorry, J.K. Rowling – if I ever make a go of writing and can quit my Sad Picard job, I promise I’ll read them), but I know the movies. I remember weeping over Snape’s death scene. And definitely getting teary when Harry told his son, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
Just last week, husband Tim and I were talking about dressing up for Halloween. (Which we never do, and probably will never do, but we like to pretend and talk about it sometimes.) He said he wanted to buy a really nice suit and dress up as Hans Gruber for Halloween. I asked if I should go as Holly, but he suggested Karl (Alexander Godunov, lost too soon many years ago). I liked that idea, because I wouldn’t have to do anything with my hair. And I could go around all night, turning over tables, shouting “I want blood!”
I’m too sad to want to do that, now. And I don’t want blood, really. But I would like a break from these profound losses. Alan Rickman, you will not be forgotten in my lifetime.