Ian Holm (1931-2020)

I’m gonna watch it tonight!

Every time someone mentioned another movie I thought “yeah he was in that one too!” I had forgotten his role in The Fifth Element. I have Big Night on my list of shows that I want to watch sometime… Sounds like I’m watching it tonight!

Sad to see him gone but he left such an incredible body of work.

Players did some tributes in LOTR Online in memory of Ian.


@Sharpe thought you might appreciate this paragraph from Anthony Lane’s appreciation in the New Yorker:

Given the chance, he could filch an entire film. Whenever moviegoers I’ve talked to mention “Chariots of Fire” (1981), they always, without exception, mention Holm’s performance as the trainer Sam Mussabini, which brought him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. It is Sam who prepares Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) for the hundred-metre sprint at the Paris Olympics of 1924, and who, on the day, can’t bring himself to watch the race. Instead, he waits alone in a nearby hotel room, from where, at last, he hears “God Save the King” and sees the Union Jack flag ascend. His boy has won. And how does he signal his joy? By sitting on the bed and punching a fist through the top of his straw boater. He laughs at his own audacity, then quickly stifles the laugh. Again, it’s the clarity of Holm’s movement that stays with you. Any more would mean less.

Although, I thought that in the film he was actually banned from attending the race. Either Anthony or I has misremembered…

For millions of viewers, Holm was Bilbo, in two of the three parts of Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings,” and again in the two halves of “The Hobbit.”

Did Holm appear in framing scenes in the Hobbit movies? Otherwise, check your facts, Anthony. Also, there were 3 Hobbit movies, more’s the pity.

Yes, he is in framing scenes and thus only appears in the beginning of Hobbit 1 & end of Hobbit 3.

Ah. My bad.

I’ve been rewatching bits & bobs of Fellowship and the scenes I keep getting pulled back to are the early ones with Holm. He’s really excellent in the scene after the party with Gandalf as he struggles with the prospect of letting the Ring go.

He also gets the biggest jump-scare in the trilogy.

I hated that scene. It just felt too much like Peter Jackson putting his own stamp on Tolkien, didn’t fit in at all for me. Same with the Galadriel bit.

It definitely wasn’t Tolkien (like a great deal of the movie, btw), but it still scares me, and Holm beautifully pivots to pathos IMO.

The Galadriel bit is canonical, isn’t it?

IIRC Tolkien describes her as transforming in some way when she makes that speech, but of course Jackson’s interpretation of said transformation is… Jacksonian.

I enjoy the movies overall, and at times (e.g. the Bilbo/Gandalf scene I mentioned above) I think they come close in tone to the books. But they are very much their own thing and many of my favorite parts of the books aren’t in there at all. Two different mediums, yada yada.

For sure every now and then the movies remind you that this dude also directed Dead Alive.

Let me clarify: I take issue with the physical transformation bit that happens with both Bilbo and Galadriel’s moment of temptation. Not the fact that they were tempted. It just seems over the top to me.

I guess the text is always open to imagination, but:

‘And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!’

She lifted up her hand and from the ring that she wore there issued a great light that illumined her alone and left all else dark. She stood before Frodo seeming now tall beyond measurement, and beautiful beyond enduring, terrible and worshipful. Then she let her hand fall, and the light faded, and suddenly she laughed again, and lo! she was shrunken: a slender elf-woman, clad in simple white, whose gentle voice was soft and sad. ‘I pass the test,’ she said. ‘I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.’

The apparent transformation is in the text.

I think Jackson got the “feel” right a lot of the time. But the films are compressed, both in time and space. Things happen too fast, and the scenes are too crowded. I didn’t get to really enjoy the films.

Having just re-watched Fellowship, I think you’re right. It’s odd to say of a 3-hour movie. But for example, they’re climbing Caradhras, and Gimli says “we should go through Moria” (which is the first time the word Moria has been said in the movie). Gandalf gives an ominous look and says “that is only a last resort”. And two minutes later, they’re at the gates of Moria.

I also think the films were “framed” for standard definition TV. Nothing really important happens outside the 4:3 box in the middle of the screen.

Every time an RIP thread is bumped, even this slight two week bumpage, I think, OMG [insert name] died! Even if I already knew. Such as the Harlan Ellison thread and this one.

Same here, and specifically I keep thinking “oh no, Ian McKellen!” in this case.

Yup. Every time.

Guess he had many lives!