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21 January 2011

My Boy Jack The other night I caught part of a movie on TV about Rudyard Kipling’s family, and which specifically focused on his son Jack’s war service in World War I.

[More:]Jack had very poor vision, but he and his father were determined he should see battle anyway, and when he was rejected by the army and the navy Rudyard pulled strings to get him into an Irish regiment, and he spouted a lot of hot air about Jack’s duty to serve and the honour and glory of it.

Of course there was no honour and glory involved in WWI – it was a matter of one imperialistic country picking a fight with another imperialistic country, and then a number of other countries jumping into the fray like lemmings. (I was thinking how stupid it was until I remembered that we still do the same thing today.) And then the Allied forces squandered the lives of their men, sending regiments of cavalry up against German tanks and making many other bone-headed and monstrously callous decisions. Although I had never heard what happened to Jack Kipling I had a sick feeling that this was not going to end well, and of course it didn’t. Jack got his father to write a letter giving him permission to go to France a few days before he turned 18 so he could be a part of the big offensive that was to take place, and he was killed in action on August 18th, just one day after his 18th birthday.

The movie was very well acted and well-written, and I especially admired the performance of the actress who played Rudyard Kipling’s wife, Caroline Kipling. She was very self-contained and charming and yet it was so obvious she had a spine of steel and was intelligent and could deal very effectively with her talented yet irascible, rather pig-headed husband and their two strong-willed teenagers in the velveted, lady-like way expected then, and even enjoy doing it. Also I thought she was lovely and looked rather young to be playing a mother to two almost-grown children. Her accent did wander in and out a little, but it was a fine performance.

Well, the movie played to its heartbreaking close, and the credits rolled, and as I glanced casually at them I got such a shock. Caroline Kipling had been played by… Kim Cattrall. I NEVER recognized her. I didn’t so much as think, hmm, that actress looks familiar. Nor was she heavily disguised – she had dark hair worn in a bun and period clothes of course, but of course she would have worn very light makeup that looked like no makeup at all. I should still have been able to recognize her immediately, and yet I didn't.

I have never been all that impressed with Cattrall's acting abilities. I always thought she was too hammy and mugged too much in Sex and the City and her other comic roles. Maybe she is actually better suited to be a dramatic actor. Certainly she disappeared into that role in a way famous actors can seldom do, and my hat is off to her.

I also didn't clue in that Daniel Radcliffe and Carey Mulligan were in the movie (and they were also very good in their roles), but then I didn't think that was so remarkable given that I've never actually seen any of their movies, though I know who they both are. Another fun fact is that the actor who played Rudyard Kipling is the author of the play the movie was based on.
Great performances. The kind of TV only the Brits seem to be able to pull off.
posted by arse_hat 22 January | 02:09
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