Last flight to the Stars.

Two noteworthy contributors to Science Fiction Films have passed away during the weekend.

Do you know who Irvin Kershner is?  No, then you are one of the following:  you populate the age range between 0-18, have lived as a hermit since 1980 or consider yourself so counter-cultured that force is nothing more than a physics concept.

Irvin Kershner directed the Empire Strikes Back, second movie of the Star Wars Trilogy – that’s right people, TRILOGY!

Know as the darkest (and best) of the three movies, its use of stop-motion animation was considered a breakthrough the time. (I respect Ray Harryhausen and Willis O’Brien but my animation God is Phil Tippett).  I mean really, Empire’s Yoda kicks CG Yoda’s ass any day of the week but the argument is moot.

Empire also taught us all (well, all of us kids in the theatre) that a Rebellion is not without defeat, bloodshed and death. I was so terrified by this that my vision of the Apocalypse will have AT-ATs coming over the horizon…I won’t accept anything less!

Famously, Irvin Kershner declined the directorial seat for Empire until his agent pushed him to accept!  I can’t imagine what a legacy we, the Fans, might have missed had he not accepted.  Thank you sir.

IMDB Datasheet

Irvin Kershner (1923-2010)

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Our esteemed Editor-in-Chief, Johnny ‘J. Jonah’ Canuck,  was actually surprised that I didn’t jump at the chance to eulogize M. Nielsen, something that I usually do for other performers of the 7th Art.  Truth be told, I didn’t know what to write.  The first paragraph will deal more with the movie Forbidden Planet as a whole and the second paragraph can easily be lifted from any good biography sites.

I was first introduced to Leslie Nielsen (b.1926, Regina, Sask.) as Cdr. John Adams, the lead character in the Sci-Fi film Forbidden Planet.  I was about ten years old when I sat down with my father, uncle and cousins to watch the movie on TV.  It became my first ‘real’ foray into Sci-Fi fandom and begat a lifelong appreciation for the genre.  I have so many emotional recollections with this film that it sometimes reflects in my everyday interests (the more I go on, the more I think I should do a separate piece just for the movie…)

A few years later, the Airplane movies came out and made everybody bust a gut.  Nielsen, who played doctor Alan Rumack, rose to fame with his “I am serious and don’t call me Shirley” quote.  It should be Hall of Famed as one of the best deadpan deliveries in cinematic History.  Following this, he played hapless police detective Frank Drebin in the infamous Naked Gun series and had a several television appearances on Due South as Sgt. Buck Frobisher. He was a prolific actor, playing over 200 different characters in his career.  He was honoured with a star on both the Canadian and Hollywood Walk of Fame (1988 & 2001) and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2002.

Leslie Nielsen does have a place in my heart because he played a believable, straightforward commanding officer in a movie that defined my visions of the future, technologies and the Human Mind.  He cracked me up in Airplane but strangely; I couldn’t get into the Naked Gun series.  I think that it was during those years (early twenties) that I completely lost my suspension of disbelief and steadfastly refused to check my brain at the movie theatre doors.

Regardless, he made me laugh and was part of something that makes me think and keeps me curious to this day.  I thank him for that…

…nah, that’s not enough.  I can hear our Editor right now… “You call that a story, I’ll have you know that in my time…blah blah blah…”

Ok, I’ll do a piece on Forbidden Planet. I realize that a person’s subtle impact on one’s psyche can’t be fully explained in just a few lines.

IMDB Datasheet.

Leslie William Nielsen, O.C (1926-2010)

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1 comment

  1. Ben, my old friend, you’ve done them both a real honour and now I have to go and see Forbidden Planet again. I had completely forgotten about it.
    “Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
    And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”
    –A guy with a wobbly poking stick and small pig.