Sadly, we pause from movies to say goodbye again to an actor who dedicated his life to entertaining the world through his characters.
Richard Attenborough passed at the age of 90 on Aug 24.
When I mentioned him in conversation this week, I have gotten many different replies: Who?
The Jurassic Park guy?
Man, The Great Escape.
Those who know directors, they say, “Gandhi”.
These movies are top-notch performances. From intense characters to giddy Drs, and an endearing Santa using sign language to communicate with a little girl who couldn’t talk to him.
Attenborough began acting in 1942 and was involved in the industry until 2007.
Though he wasn’t always seen on film, his touch was often felt through directing and producing.
All of the above characters are great ones that I have enjoyed watching several times over the past years. One movie that often comes to me when I hear his name is Flight of the Phoenix (1965). His character, Lew Moran, is a great one among a stellar cast of performers: (the great) Jimmy Stewart, Ernest Bornine, and George Kennedy to name a few. It’s a great film. [DYK: It’s a film that Stewart had a difficult time speaking about from his career because there were several deaths that took place on set in creating this movie?] It’s a great film to show how working together as a team can be a great benefit to over come major challenges, but can also cause a huge amount of turmoil. Attenbourough delivered a great character and piece in this puzzle of self-rescue.
The other is Chaplin (1993). I consider it one of Robert Downey Jr’s greatest performances. [DYK: In an interview Richard Attenborough knew of RD,Jr’s addiction problems and was actively involved in getting him help. Even supporting an enforced jail time to help him stay away from the influences of Hollywood.] Attenbourough, aside from Gandhi, which he won an award for, was meticulous in his portrayal of the late great Charlie Chaplin. So much so that he made sure that every character in the film… except one… was based on a true person in Chaplin’s life. He had a vision and there’s a true sense of love and dedication to this film, just as in Gandhi, that comes across as you watch it. Word to the wise and movie lovers, watch the director’s cut. There were about 15 minutes added back into the movie for a Director’s Cut that Attenbourough said he had to release because cutting them out really took away from his film.
A few points in his life that show the man that he was away from the cameras and lights. He married (English) actress Sheila (Sim) in 1945 and remained married until his death. This year would have been their 70th anniversary. (That goes to show a marriage can truly overcome Hollywood and movies if a couple are determined to make it.) They raised 3 loving children.
He was a WWII veteran. As a son of a school principal, Attenbourough was dedicated throughout his life in support of a free and non-biased education. He was a spokesman, board member, and avid supporter of education for all children of all color and background. He was active in England and highly respected by the royals. He was a personal friend to Princess Diana and had a very emotional interview shortly after her death. He was knighted in 1976 and was granted baron status in 1993. But his kindness and generosity followed him throughout his life.
I was truly touched to know that he lost his daughter and grand-daughter in the 2004 Thailand Tsunami tragedy. In his loss, he gave an emotional and heart-felt reading at a British memorial service for all the lives in that tragedy.
It’s such a blessing to me to be able to say our farewells from LTBM. I knew a lot about this man as an actor and director. However, finding out about his life and how he spent it away from the camera is more enriching. The lovable and energetic person he portrays in Jurassic park and Miracle on 34th street seem to be more like his true persona.
Our desire is to always strive to look at movies from a Christian perspective.
I don’t know where Richard’s faith was as he approached the end of his life. I do feel confident is looking at God’s word in connection to his life actions though. We are told in Luke 6:31 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise. It appears that Richard lived a life doing for others and being a true and loyal person to kindness and his fellow-man.
We have one of my favorite lesson from jesus himself in Matthew 25: 34-40
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; 36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink? 38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, even these least, ye did it unto me.
Our life is just a vapor on this Earth. (James 4:14) It appears that Richard did his best to make sure it was a vapor that impacted lives in a positive way.
We can only hope that his faith was in Jesus, as we hope all of our readers are. Jesus tells us, “Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you into myself, that where I am, you may be also.” (John 14:1-3).
From all of us here at LTBM, we pause a moment to remember this actor/director/producer and to say farewell. Our thoughts and prayers have been with his family in their loss. We pray that they find comfort by drawing near to God.