May 16, 2021

Anthony Hopkins: dazzling, laconic and seductive



In Zeller’s film, his last appearance on the big screen, Hopkins plays old Anthony, a lonely father with Alzheimer’s disease, navigating between a hazy past and a murky present surrounded by a deep sense of melancholy, he becomes, under his improvisational genius, in a character strewn with nuances and contradictions that manage, above all, to distance the film from any simplifying temptation, contemplating the pathology suffered by the protagonist from a vital perspective, rather than from a strictly behavioral perspective. The actor, as is usual in his long and brilliant career as a film interpreter, masterfully manages all his expressive resources to bring the audience closer to the irreversible drama of an old man who inevitably faces his inexorable destiny.

But long before the deserved recognition of his mastery with this splendid work, Hopkins had already earned the praise of the critics and the public, embodying a wide and varied typology of characters in films that have remained fixed in our memory as examples. Unfailing talents far above the average of their very illustrious colleagues in their native Britain, the home country of such eminences so justly revered by critics and audiences as Lawrence Olivier, Richard Burton, Peter O’Toole, Ralph Richardson, Charles Laughton, Alec Guinnes, Jeremy Irons, Ian McKellen, Albert Finney, Daniel Day-Lewis, Lawrence Harvey, James Mason, Michael Caine, Ian Holm or Alan Rickman.

From the fearsome murderous psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter from The Silence of the Lambs (1991), a role for which he won his first Oscar and with which he achieved immense popularity, to Adolf Hitler from The Bunker (1980) , by George Shaefer, through the ruthless Captain Bligh, from Mutiny on Board (The Bounty, 1984), by Roger Donaldson, as convincing as his colleagues Charles Laughton or Trevor Howard in the two preceding versions of the legendary novel of the same name by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall; Richard Nixon’s rogue background from Nixon (Nixon, 1995), by Oliver Stone; the altruistic doctor Frederick Treves from David Lynch’s splendid The Elephant Man (1980); the laconic and bewildering Alfred Hitchcock from Sacha Gervasi’s Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho (Hitchcock, 2012), another of the many popular personalities that Hopkins embodied on screen.

He also played the desolate Quasimodo from Michael Tuchner’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1982); the brave and imperturbable professor Abraham Van Helsing from Bram Stoker’s Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 1992), by Coppola, or the ambiguous Benedict XVI from The Two Popes (The Two Popes, 2019), by Brazilian Fernando Meirelles, Hopkins has shown an enormous capacity to take on the most complex challenges, always applying an interpretive technique completely removed from any temptation to over-acting and avoiding at all times falling into the aided dramatic resources used by that myriad of one-dimensional interpreters that invade today’s cinema without leaving us the slightest trace of its passage with flat and routine interpretations. Hopkins, on the other hand, represents the prototype of an actor capable of sustaining a certain professional dignity, whether in artistically mediocre productions or in films of great intellectual significance.

In this sense, Stevens, the unique butler he brings to life in The Remains of the Day (1993), by James Ivory, one of the major works of the popular Californian filmmaker, constitutes the best example of the personal talent that promotes the work of this eminent actor in his double capacity as faithful servant of the ambiguous Lord Darlington (splendid James Fox), who like many other members of British high society in the 30s, is deceived by the plans of the Nazis, who try to establish a relationship with the British Government, and as a man placed in the spotlight of a growing political, family and sentimental conflict, which he confronts with the discretion and elegance of a being who, despite his involuntary involvement in the conflict, does not At no time does he lose his aristocratic composure as the head of the copious servitude that the old mansion maintains. In this interesting film, which garnered nine Oscar nominations, including Hopkins himself, the actor plays one of the most subtle and disturbing characters of his long career before the cameras.

Even in such common blockbusters of the mainstream cinema of the nineties such as La mask del zorro (The Mask of Zorro, 1998), by Martin Campbell, an entertaining swashbuckling show that featured a second installment and with our Antonio Banderas as co-star , has its own stellar appearance, injecting the film with an important plus of respectability, as well as its interventions, more or less brief, in minor films, such as Meet Joe Black (Meet Joe Black, 1998), by Martin Brest; A distant bridge (A Bridge Too Far, 1977), by Richard Attenborough; Legends of passion (Legends of the Fall, 1994), by Edward Zwick; Instinct (Instinct, 1999), by John Turteltaub or Transformers: the last knight (Transformers: The Last Knight, 2017), by Michael Bay, where Anthony Hopkins manages to mitigate, thanks to his iconic presence, their ostensible artistic mediocrity.

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