Monday, January, 3, 11

RIP Pete Postlethwaite

Filed under: cinema — theradishpress @ 10:53 am
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by theradishpress

Actor and activist Pete Postlethwaite died 2 January 2011 at the age of 64 from complications due to cancer. I first became aware of him as Giussepe Conlon in In the Name of the Father. Him being unrecognizable to be me made his performance all the more real, and his death as Giuseppe all the more sad. To this day that film and story brings me to tears. While the film is disturbingly beautiful, it does not show half the torture the Conlons, their extended family, and friends suffered under the English government. One of my favorite moments in the film is when Giuseppe is brought into prison with Gerry. A torrent of childhood anger and resentment pours out of Gerry and he delivers one of the most heartbreaking, yet hilarious lines (after relating a story about Giuseppe calling him out for fouling the ball in football: “And I ran out, and I hid, and I wrote your name on the ground — your stupid Giuseppe fucking name. I wrote it in the dirt and I fucking pissed on it.”

After that film I noticed Postlethwaite more. Though, he is a difficult man to miss with such a distinct face, as noted by Ben Affleck’s Doug MacRay in The Town. Postlethwaite plays the Father in Romeo + Juliet, and the ominous lawyer in The Usual Suspects (one of the only draws to an over-hyped film), and more recently I saw him in The Town as a scary Irish mafia boss. Last year I also saw him in the documentary The Age of Stupid, a film that chronicles humanity’s hand in destroying the world, as well as the efforts of individuals and communities to amend our mistakes.

My grandfather died on the 2nd of January as well. In 2002. He was older at the time than Postlethwaite at his death, and also died due to cancer complications. I suppose cancer is one giant complication. I am not really aware of it being anything other than that. Reading about Postlethwaite’s death had an impact because it brought Poppop more to mind than he already has been. Clearly I did not know the actor, but my introduction to him was as a working-class Irishman, struggling for his family’s survival and victim of a corrupt system. Because of our family’s strong tie to our heritage, it made him perhaps more of a hero than one would presume I would see him as. But I did. And I know now more than ever that thanks to Postlethwaite I want to visit the grave of Giuseppe Conlon in Belfast. I want to pay him respects. And I in a weird selfish way, I owe Postlethwaite thanks and respect for keeping Poppop at the top of my thoughts.

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