The Movie World is Mourning a Hero. We are ALL in shock.
CHADWICK BOSEMAN. Star of BLACK PANTHER. Dead, aged 43, from Cancer.
I woke to the sad news of Chadwick’s death. The name, trending, online. Your first thought, in a damning indictment of social media is perhaps..has this star been arrested? Shamed? Cancelled? Not here, because I can hand on heart say that we all knew this man to be without blemish on a beautiful character.
But I did think, no wish, that the death notice was one of those hoaxes one sees with alarming regularity. One sicko out there makes it their business to announce the deaths of Morgan Freeman, Clint Eastwood and Rowan Atkinson on an almost annual basis. Sadly, this news is all too real.
It speaks volumes, doesn’t it? NOBODY seemed to know Chadwick was ill, let alone terminally so. We all assumed that his recent weight loss was down to role preparation and indeed, had Black Panther 2 been going ahead, on schedule? A leaner figure made sense, given that the titular hero is more about sleek stealthy surveillance than he is jacked up super muscular power.
This is a guy who was, up until recently, visiting other cancer sufferers, especially sick kids, in hospitals. Not once did he mention his own struggles, let alone whinge or whine or issue any self pitying statement. Boseman died as he lived: with dignity and privacy and a perfect balance between the public profile of his work and his right to live as a man outside of his identities onscreen.
A fiercely talented individual, his breakthrough part is arguably the sports biopic 42. Indeed, I felt that film was underrated and overlooked, criminally so. It’s a great turn from Harrison Ford, too (HOW did they not win Oscars?).
A Harvard graduate who also studied in Oxford and at the New York Digital Film Academy, Chadwick had a probing intellect and versatile skill-set. In a sense, it’s a shame that he was not born to a different cinematic age and idiom. He acted in and produced 21 Bridges and that feels very much like the kind of movie they used to make in the 1970s. Action, thrills, star power all onscreen. But with a measure of adult grit and philosophical, mature reflection.
No doubt he had plenty more to say and so many more great pictures to make. In that sense, a truly tragic loss in terms of missed opportunity. On the other hand? This is a truly great legacy of work left behind, for all ages. His character arc in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was arguably finished, though of course we all wanted sequels and there were endless stories left to tell with him in the lead. There is no hanging plot thread, though. And it’s genuinely moving that this wonderful leading man lived to see his super-heroic franchise property gross over a billion at the Box Office and lead the charge in Oscar nominations.
We live in turbulent, tumultuous times. Racial tensions are now a sadly political currency when they ought to be anachronistic and beyond debate in a more enlightened age. I do hope nobody tries to hijack the tributes to Boseman for personal ends or to foment tension.
If anything? This great young talent was a reminder of how the sheer joys in movie-making, story-telling and community building transcend all distinctions of race, gender, sexuality, creed and age. Chadwick’s magnanimous, modest, moving, motivated movie magic is an example to ALL. I for one, will always be charmed by his surprising fans at Cinemas in the opening weeks of the release of Black Panther.
Though you will be much missed, Mr Boseman? You are immortal, immediately. WAKANDA FOREVER! x