Sunday, 15 June 2014

Dear Mr Ford

So there is much excitement at work regarding a certain Harrison Ford who is receiving treatment at the hospital.  Naturally, I am not about to reveal anything about his injuries and care that would infringe his patient confidentiality - I DON'T KNOW ANYTHING, I'M 'ONLY' A TEACHER THERE SO DON'T PANIC: I get all my information from the internet, just like everybody else you know.  However, his presence (cue, 'I felt a disturbance in the Force') has made me consider what it is about him and what he does which means that I have been beside myself with excitement that I AM IN THE SAME BUILDING AS HIM.  This has not had the same effect on my colleagues who are somewhat bemused, (it isn't as though it's Bradley Cooper' one of them muttered, 'isn't he from the 70s?' queried another).  If I could meet him. I wouldn't know what to say.  I would be a blithering idiot, I imagine just like everyone else he tries to avoid meeting who admire his work.  I'm not given to trawling unofficial biogs or reading celeb mags to find juicy titbits of information about stars so I probably know less about him than a lot of people.  I know he famously doesn't suffer fools gladly, doesn't like the interview and film promotion element of acting, has been married three times (second time to the woman who wrote the ET screenplay, fact fans), lives on a ranch where he rides horses, flies planes and helicopters, saves the environment and generally keeps a low profile.

This is what I would say to him if I was in another universe and could think straight, keep it together and 'just fly casual' in his presence.  Actually, maybe it would be better in a letter...

Dear Mr Ford,
I love you.  But don't worry, I'm not a stalker and I don't know where you live.  So I won't be bothering you anytime soon or running for my life as you spot a shadow lurking on your porch and come out with a few large dogs and a shot gun to take a look around.  In fact, I probably don't even want to meet you because in my head, we would get on really well and you would be funny and charming and I would be intelligent and interesting (like Marion in Raiders, not like Willie Scott in Temple of Doom, who, let's be frank, was simply irritating and screamy) but the reality of an actual meeting is unlikely to match my expectations.  Sometimes, reality and fantasy are best kept at a safe distance to avoid any dreams being crushed or lawsuits issued.  All that aside, there is a reason why you are important to me. 

My first cinema trip was to see The Empire Strikes Back in 1981 (I know, I'm old so I hope that doesn't make you feel even older.  However, historically, and unfairly, men age way better than women so fear not - you look better at 71 than I do now), followed by Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I was eight when I saw Empire, at The Odeon in Oxford with my mum and brother and his friend.  Going to the cinema was a really, really big deal then.  We didn't go regularly as my children do now nor could we follow up a great screening with the dvd three months later.  Back then, you saw the film and that was that.  Well, until video was invented and even then you had to wait a year for it to be released and it cost the equivalent of a round the world plane ticket.   I can't remember much about Empire other than that last shot of Luke, Leia and the droids looking out of the window into the galaxy where, somewhere, Han Solo was incarcerated and in need of rescue.  I now love that line as he went into the carbonite in response to Leia's, 'I love you'; an apparently adlibbed, 'I know'.  So cool and so many reasons to say it that said so much more about character development and feelings that the more usual, 'I love you too'.  I'm not claiming that I recognised it as brilliant at the time of course.  I was probably too busy choking on the cigarette fumes as not only did you have to put up with people eating, kicking the back of your (not as comfortable as now) seat and chatting, smoking was still allowed.  I guess the upside was at least your viewing pleasure wasn't spoilt by the light from the as yet uninvented mobile phone as somebody needed to put the fact that they were at the cinema as their Facebook status - not that you could have seen it through the smog.  I do know that by the time Return of The Jedi came around I was completely in love with you and went to see that film seven times.  My room, possibly unusually for an eleven year old girl back in the eighties, was a shrine to all things Star Wars with not a sign of a Cabbage patch doll or whatever was the in thing at that time for the fairer sex (apart from Sindy dolls but that was because Sindy had a riding school; see next sentence for clarity on that).  As I got older you were kind of replaced by horses a little so sorry about that but it could have been worse and you like horses so I'm sure you understand. 

 

I liked Han then and still do now because of his unwillingness to compromise his beliefs and his very well founded sense of looking after number one, plus his inability to be fazed by people who others consider important ('I know, where DID you dig up that old fossil?'  Ben is a great man. 'Yeah, great at getting us into trouble').  I don't want to know why he is like that, it is enough to know that what ever backstory George Lucas had in mind for him gave enough for you to work with that you made Han into a fully rounded rebel with a healthy ego and nice line in put downs.  Han Solo was so funny and brilliant - that raised eyebrow!  The sideways grin!  The way he was willing to ignore his love for Leia so she could be with Luke (phew, lucky she found out that she was his sister or that could have been awkward.  Good incest avoidance, Mr Lucas)!  His ruthlessness and single minded belief in his own greatness which was so different to those with the knowledge that there was a greater force out there!  And that waistcoat!  So it was a combination of looks, fabulous character traits and fashion sense that got to me. 

 


However, I reckon the film in-between Empire and Jedi was what sealed it.  Raiders of the Lost Ark.  I saw that in Not the Moulin Rouge which was a tiny cinema in Headington and no longer exists (living somewhere long enough to know places that are no longer there is not necessarily a good thing; for clarity on that one, see back to ageing).  I love the combination of being a professor and simultaneously an (outrageously handsome) archeologist with an unshakable moral centre and a fine line in battered hats and bullwhip action.   I think everybody needs escapism, somebody to have the adventures that they are never going to have and the ability to make witty quips in dire situations while also looking unbelievably good.  As an actor, you've made some interesting choices.  You may not be feted as the actor of your generation like Daniel Day-Lewis or made anything that the world raves over as particularly dangerous or outre but what you do, you do so very well.  And you make it look easy which I always think is the sign of a great actor - you know, in the James Stewart or Cary Grant vein.  Many of your films are up there in my 'best ever' including The Fugitive, Patriot Games, The Mosquito Coast, Witness and Blade Runner. I also really liked Cowboys and Aliens even though nobody else did.  For that matter, ditto The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull.  I can't claim to have seen everything you have ever been in but thank you for giving me Han Solo and Indiana Jones.  They have made my life better and for that I am grateful.

1 comment:

  1. Yet again you have confirmed to me, Ms Ladbrook, that you are an extraordinary lady whom I am privileged to know.

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