THE POPCORN REEL
The Sad Passing of Heath Ledger -- One Week
Removed, and Counting
Omar P.L. Moore/The
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
On Tuesday, January 22, 2008, actor Heath Ledger was found dead on the bedroom
floor of his fourth-floor apartment in the SoHo district of Manhattan in New
York City. Shock first visited the news, with sadness making for a virtual
Immediate tributes were accompanied by what
some would characterize as a carnivorous school of media pundits who pounced,
dissecting the whos, hows, wheres and whys of Mr. Ledger's death, as if actually
carving up Mr. Ledger's demise, or worse yet, Mr. Ledger himself. (Pseudo
paparazzi, perhaps?) The auto-repeat showings of video footage of the body
bag containing the deceased actor being somberly wheeled out into the cool Big
Apple night by New York City police personnel was almost too much to bear.
Reporters camped outside Mr. Ledger's apartment for hours, and judging by the
looks in the eyes of some of them it appeared as if they were hoping for his
second coming. Yes, it was all more than a tad bit disrespectful, to say
After all, Mr. Ledger's family cried out for
peace and respect, but few in the television media and on the Internet appeared
to heed their plaintive call.
The actor had moved to New York City with then-fiancee and "Brokeback" co-star
Michelle Williams to attain the anonymity he so desperately sought, and, in a
sad and ironic twist of cruelty, ultimately received more attention in death
than he ever wanted in his life.
Heath Ledger was a rising acting talent and although noted for his acting skills
in such films as "Brokeback Mountain", his work in "Monsters' Ball" demonstrated
both a subtlety and wisdom that promised many more fine performances to come.
His work in the forthcoming film "The Dark Knight" as Batman nemesis The Joker
has been widely reported among some Tinseltown industry insiders to be nothing
less than astonishing. Most recently Mr. Ledger could be seen on the big
screen portraying a manifestation of Bob Dylan in the multifaceted Dylan film
"I'm Not There", which was released in the U.S. last November, and had several
projects on the horizon including the recent filming of Terry Gilliam's next
motion picture in London.
The world will mourn Heath Ledger and remember him as a proficient talent cut
down far too quickly -- barely in the prime of his young life. Mr. Ledger
was not one for all the Hollywood rah-rah, as many now know. By all
accounts he was quiet, unassuming and very much a family man. The
Australian thespian was just 28 years of age -- not even three decades to his
life resume. He is survived by his young daughter and former fiancee Ms.
Williams, with whom he had amicably and mutually parted ways less than a year
No matter the manner of Mr. Ledger's untimely
demise, no matter the mysterious circumstances, thoughts, asinine rumors and
unanswered questions surrounding his fate, it is best to give the Ledger family
all the space and time they need to grieve. If one liked and respected
Heath Ledger, one should accordingly respect the wishes of his family,
especially in grief and the most sensitive and vulnerable moments that come with
While the tragic conclusion of Heath Ledger's abbreviated life is newsworthy, it
is not exploitation worthy. Perhaps those media outlets that crossed the
line on what was a sorrowful day for the global film community and film fandom
would do well to recognize and remember that.
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