Friday, 8 February 2013

Friday Favourites: Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh.

Five reasons to embrace the Branagh life:

1. He's a Knight of the Realm!

Arise, Sir Ken!

As of the 9th November 2012, Ken Branagh is a knight! It may be an antiquated, irrelevant and powerless honourary title, but it's still pretty fucking cool. A ton of people already thought that he was a knight because he's been around for so long, and had previously been offered (& declined) an OBE. If you know anything about the British cultural phenomenon of "Branagh-Bashing", I think you'll agree that this was a lovely alternative to that. Almost as if the Queen was saying, "I'm sorry for all the shit you've gotten over the years, here, have a title on me!"

2. He is the most inspirationally hard-working person in film & tv.

This may be a little difficult to get across, but Ken just Does. Not. Stop. Working. I'm just going to name a few of his recently past and upcoming projects off the top of my head to give you the general idea: Thor, Life & Fate, Wallander, The Painkiller, Macbeth, Jack Ryan, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, The Boy in the Boat, Italian Shoes, The Olympics Opening Ceremony. Essentially, Ken always has at least two projects on the go. I find his dedication to keeping busy completely overwhelming and I long for the day I have even 1/10th of his work ethic. I also find his choices in projects really interesting. This Summer's Macbeth is his first Shakespearean performance in a decade. He takes on the direction of potential (and actual) blockbuster films working with hugely famous Hollywood celebrities, whilst also choosing to continue directing smaller films with less flash and cash. And he's still on stage! The man is a marvel and has found a way to cram 48 hours into a day.

3. Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Waiting in the wings to go on was joyful – participants, volunteers, performers were all shaking hands. Time stood still. I remember waltking up that hill, turning around to see a stadium of 80,000 people, with Elgar ringing in my ears and the stage manager very sweetly saying through my earpiece: “Ken, you’re on.” After our piece was done, and we walked backstage to change, we all turned around and saw what appeared to be Her Majesty the Queen parachuting into the stadium. There was what I can only describe as a great, big collective smile. It was a delicious moment – and another perfect expression of the sureness of tone that the ceremony seemed to set. It was a reflection of who we are – and a beautiful thing to be a part of. - Ken recalls the Olympics Opening Ceremony.
The Olympic opening ceremony transformed a nation of miserable skeptics into excitable children with eyes wide with delight and wonder. There was definitely a shift in the atmosphere in the UK throughout the summer, and a sense of collective pride and enthusiasm which resulted, I believe, from the opening ceremony. Ken was only a small part of the whole affair, and he was a second choice for the role, but nevertheless, his character essentially kicked off the main event. My tweets from the moment he came out are practically incomprensible; I was so proud.

4. His thoroughly delicious speaking voice.

I have audiobooks that I would never have looked at twice... just to hear him speak for 8+ hours. Example:

Sonnet 30 - When to the sessions of sweet silent thought.

5. The next 30 years.

Ken has been on the go for over 30 years already and I firmly believe he won't stop for another 30. I also believe that the next 30 will produce some of his finest acting and directing work, and I relish the thought of being on the front line to watch it all happen. 

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