As all of you will know by now, Alan Rickman passed away this morning at the age of 69, and as I was trying to think of what his first role that I saw was, I realized how many absolutely iconic characters that Alan Rickman played throughout my life.
Alan Rickman always put himself entirely into a role, whether it was playing Marvin in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or King Philip in King of the Hill, and that made him so amazing to watch. I think that the first movie I saw him in would have been Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, but the first role that I consciously knew he was in was probably Galaxy Quest. Of course he became incredibly famous in my generation for playing Severus Snape, but I think my favorite role of his was Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.
When I watched Sense and Sensibility for the first time, I’d never read the book. I was in third grade, and really sick with mono. If you’ve never had mono, it’s a really draining disease, especially when you stay sick for a while. I didn’t have the energy to really focus on anything for long periods of time, and I spent a large chunk of my days sleeping. I was out sick for probably three months, and I needed to do something with my day that didn’t matter if I fell asleep in the middle of it. I wound up watching nearly every movie in the house with one of my parents. Among other things, my dad and I watched his entire collection of Shakespeare movies, and my mom and I watched the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries, Anne of Green Gables, and Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility.
I remember watching Colonel Brandon fall in love with Marianne so entirely that I couldn’t believe she’d been taken in with Willoughby. As an adult, I recognize that that’s not how the heart works, but I couldn’t believe it as a child. I loved that he simply wanted her to be able to live joyfully and passionately throughout her life, similar to what he’d wanted for Eliza, so long ago.
Now that I’ve read the book, I think that many of the characters could have been more fleshed out in the novel, but watching this version of Sense and Sensibility never fails to sweep me off my feet. The emotional ride that this takes me on is largely thanks to Alan Rickman’s performance, and for that I will never be able to repay him.
Thank you for playing one of the greatest characters as Colonel Brandon, and for several reviled ones as Severus Snape and the Sheriff of Nottingham. Thank you for blessing us with your work, and for bringing so many characters to life. We will remember you always. Rest in peace.