Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Colin Firth Through the Ages

To celebrate the new year, I decided to do a retrospective of my favorite historical film roles played by Colin Firth. Few actors can wear such flamboyant costumes with such casual panache. I think that is the secret to his appeal -- even when he is wearing doublet and hose, he carries himself like he is at the Academy Awards in a tuxedo, or taking a walk in the park in T-shirt and jeans. He is always comfortable in his own skin, no matter what is covering it.

15th Century - The Advocate
One of my favorite Firth films is this obscure 1993 movie, also called The Hour of the Pig. I love the dark humor and the attention to detail. Anyone who has dealt with building contractors or received a credit in settlement of the e-book price-fixing lawsuit will be amused at how little business practices have changed in 550 years.

16th Century - Shakespeare in Love
Firth portrayed the villainous Lord Wessex, romantic rival to young Will Shakespeare. This movie was said to have inspired HRH Prince Edward, who once had a backstage theater career, to request the title of Earl of Wessex upon his marriage. Good choice. In a bit of stunt casting, Colin Firth also briefly portrayed William Shakespeare in the Black Adder Back & Forth television special.

17th Century - Girl with the Pearl Earring
Firth portrayed the great artist Johannes Vermeer. I love the practical, slightly disheveled period clothing in this picture. He has his usual brooding facial expression in this picture. He is capable of a great range of emotions, but audiences love to see him brood.

18th Century - Valmont
A very young Colin Firth plays a wicked rake. 'Nuff said. I love the costumes, particularly when they start to come off. Notice that he is smiling (or at least smirking) in this picture. This could almost be the cover of a historical romance novel.

Early 19th Century - Pride and Prejudice
Firth's most famous role, leading to artistic likenesses on display at the Jane Austen Centre in Bath and (temporarily) Hyde Park in London. I adore men's fashions from that era. The brood is back. Playing billiards gives him an excuse to remove his coat. I approve.

Late 19th Century - The Importance of Being Earnest
Men's fashions changed a bit, but Colin Firth still looks just as good several years older and several decades later. What a lovely day for a stroll with an amiable escort.

20th Century - The King's Speech
I do love a man in uniform. Look at all those medals! Do you suppose he is compensating for something? Surely not.

21st Century - Kingsman: The Secret Service
This film will be out in February (just in time for Valentine's Day). There is nothing like a well-tailored suit to get my heart beating faster. Few men age as gracefully as Mr. Firth.

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