Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Ron Perlman, Films and Poems, and the Favorite Poem Project

Ron Perlman is, I suppose, the ultimate character actor, meaning "one who predominantly plays unusual or eccentric characters." In fact, I was a fan of his from several movies without ever having seen what he looks like. He was a protohuman of some type (Neanderthal, perhaps?) in Quest for Fire (1981):

He was an odd, rat-eating hunchback named Salvatore in Name of the Rose (1986):

He was a noble Beast named Vincent, a golden-hearted sex symbol and romantic leading man, in the TV series Beauty and the Beast (1987):
And he was the easy-going, testosterone-loaded Prince of Hell in Hellboy (2004) and Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008):
This man of  a thousand faces does have a face of his own, though:
Now, the reason that I am introducing Perlman here is that he also recorded himself, in character as the Beast, reading classic poems, including Shakespeare's Sonnet XXIX.
When, in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featured like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee, and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings. 
Here is the reading (starting about halfway through the video, after music).

I think it would be more effective with only his voice and no music, but tastes differ. Some other poems he reads are by Robert Frost, Rainer Maria Rilke, William Wordsworth, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron. The CD is called Beauty and the Beast: Of Love and Hope and it is still available on Amazon.com.

A very different recital of Sonnet XXIX, without soundtrack, is offered on the Favorite Poem Project website.  Look for Daniel McCall on the Videos page. I am impressed by the depth of meaning the words have for him. While on that page, you may also want to listen to "On a Quiet Night" by Li Po (Li Bai), read by Hui Xia, "The Sloth" by Theodore Roethke, read by a 5th Grade Student, and "My Papa's Waltz" by Theodore Roethke, read by William Van Fields, a Retired Corporate Executive from Stockton, CA.

It is unfortunate that the phrase "at Heaven's gate" in this poem gave names to both a suicidal UFO cult and a famously unsuccessful film.

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