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Monday, November 22, 2010
Films Worth Seeing: Stormy Monday and Windprints
I wrote the post below for another blog I contributed to at one time. I was thinking about it because Sean Bean is currently filming "A Game of Thrones" and he will be playing the role of Lord Eddard "Ned" Stark, a man of honor and justice. Those that only know him from his Hollywood film career as the British Baddie may be wondering if he's ever played a "good guy" before. Well, he has. That's why I'm reprinting the post below with a few edits:
Early in his film career Sean Bean played the male ingénue in two films he made in the late 80’s: "Windprints" and "Stormy Monday".
"Windprints" (The Killing Wind) 1991 - is a politically charged mystery that took a snapshot in time of the political realities of apartheid in South Africa and Namibia. The film was written and directed by South African director David Wicht. This film is unique because the political story is told through the story of mysterious Nhadiep (Lesley Fong), who may or may not be terrorizing white farmers, and his own people, the Nama. This film is almost impossible to find since it’s not out on DVD and the video is difficult to find. I was lucky to finally see it a couple of years ago when one of the US cable channels showed the film for a few weeks.
Sean plays Afrikaner Anton van Heerden, camera man and journalist conflicted about his role in fighting the injustices in his country. He joins jaded veteran British journalist Charles (John Hurt) to cover the story. I believe the plot was based on a real story, and the mystery and the characters’ lives end in a rather unresolved way, just like real life. Sean’s character, Anton, is the conscience of this film, and he proves his ability to transform himself in a role, South African accent and all.
I have a sentimental connection to the second film, "Stormy Monday", 1988. It was the first time I saw Sean Bean and I've been a fan since that day. I still remember sitting in that small downtown art house movie theater, sadly now a drugstore. I had gone because I was curious to see Sting and Tommy Lee Jones and because I do like the Film Noir genre. I remember the small screen, and the image of the rain, and windshield wipers, and the sounds of modern jazz. Then there he was, looking out a window at Newcastle. It was Sean as young Irishman Brendan, looking for a job in the big city. Jazz lover, he circles an ad for a janitor in a well known club owned by “big man in town” Finney (Sting). Sean Bean barely utters a word in these first scenes, but he controlled the movie from that moment on.
Mike Figgis, who would later direct Oscar winning film "Leaving Las Vegas", directed and wrote this moody film about corruption on both sides of the Atlantic, American cultural and financial power, music as international ambassador,and the power of love. The only one not yet touched by corruption, not yet compromised by money, is Sean’s character of Brendan. He falls in love with Kate (Melanie Griffith) the good time girl of American gangster/businessman Cosmo (Tommy Lee Jones). Events take a violent turn as Brendan helps Finney fight the takeover of the nightclub by Cosmo. In the midst of all this, the two lovers, Brendan and Kate, plot their escape from corruption’s clutches. Bean’s character of Brendan is a transformative character in this film, from innocence to revenge.
Both films are two small gems in Sean Bean’s career, and little known by the general public. They are worth seeing.
(pics from compleatseanbean.com, cultfilm.com, oldnovocastrian.com, internet.je)