Monday, December 10, 2007

Stellar Observation of a Master

"Much water has flown under the Tiber's bridges, carrying away splendor and mystery from Rome since the pontificate of Pius XII ..."

"The banalities and translations which have ousted the sonorous Latin and Greek are of a supermarket quality which is quite unacceptable. Hand shaking and embarrassed smiles or smirks have replaced the older courtesies; kneeling is out, queuing is in, and the general tone is like BBC radio broadcast for tiny tots ..."

Sir Alec Guinness (1914-2000)

courtesy Matthew Doyle

Alec Guinness converted to the Roman Catholic faith in 1954 while filming his famous Father Brown (based on the stories by G.K. Chesterton) He attended Mass with Grace Kelly while he was working on a film in Los Angeles. His wife and son also became Catholics. Sir Alec is famous for his part in Star Wars (1977) as the old mentor, Obi wan Kenobi, who trained Luke Skywalker. Yet, his career spanned more than 70 years. He played Emperor Marcus Aurelius in The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964); an Arab Sheik in Lawrence of Arabia (1962); a Cardinal behind the Iron Curtain in The Prisoner (1955); Pope Inocent III in Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972). My favorite Guinness film is Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) second only to his George Smiley spy films, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) and Smiley's People (1982).


Anonymous said...

I had no idea he was a convert. Very cool.

Anonymous said...

He is fantastic in "Bridge on the River Kwai" and deservedly won an Oscar.

He was very scathing of the "Star Wars" scripts describing them as infantile. The rumour in the film world is that he decided to settle for a cut from the profits rather than an up front salary for the first in the series. Arguably the smartest decision in cinematic history!

Phil said...

I had the pleasure of meeting Sir Alec a number of times, as he lived just 'up the road' from me. An absolute gentleman, and one who wouldn't even consider reading in Church without prior preparation.

Anonymous said...

He was a very humble and unassuming man. I remember seeing him on his way to and from Mass at Westminster Cathedral London. He (like Ralph Richardson) was drawn to a Catholicism that few have seen in the UK in recent years but is reviving. The both loved the Traditional Latin Mass.

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