From Bob Ellis’s blog, Table Talk, a rerun of a post written back in 2005, in reply to another article written in 2005. The article is very long, I’ll post a couple of excerpts, but go and read the whole thing. It’s grand.
Even more remarkable, though less massively honoured, was what he did in A Beautiful Mind. This was not only to play a man in his teens and his twenties, then thickening and coarsening his waist and face a bit, his thirties, his forties and his hunched, regretful, pensive seventies, but to play him sane, mad, medicated, relapsed, in denial, in withdrawal, homicidal, remorseful, wasted, triumphant and sad. In one scene he is fighting off a schizophrenic episode while greeting old friends and joking with them about his schizophrenia while simultaneously battling its onset, a quadruple-masked display of twitches and sudden revisions unprecedented in cinema. If there is a better acted scene of doubt and inward struggle (in all the screen versions of Hamlet for instance) I want to know what it is……
…..Why is he unique? This 1940s quality offers a clue. He gives, I believe, black-and-white performances on colour film. Such is his precision, his pared-down minimality (we hardly notice, for instance, from role to role his change of accent, his change of body shape, his change of stance and look, so thoroughly does he inhabit his characters), that what you get is a spiritual experience in a way that few screen actors (Laughton is one, De Niro another, Paul Scofield a third) ever give.
The article he refers to in this post, that he is replying to, is here. A long article, even longer than Ellis’s article, explaining why it’s so silly for everybody to make such a big deal about Crowe. I got bored with it before I got to the end. She thinks she’s writing about Russell, but you know, she reveals more about herself than she really says about him. So if you want to skip her article you won’t be missing too much.