October 17, 2004
Christopher Reeve, the actor best known as Superman, passed away on Sunday, October 10, 2004.
Since I was a little kid, I have been inspired by Superman, whether in comic books or in the 1950s TV series. Actually, compared to the somewhat cheesy production values of the '50s TV series, the Superman of the comics much seemed more exciting and (literally) more colourful. (Sorry to you George Reeves fans, that is just my personal opinion.)
But for me, and many other fans of my generation I'm sure, Christopher Reeve was the definitive portrayal of Superman. Next to "Star Wars", 1978's "Superman: The Motion Picture" was probably the most inspiring cinematic experience I had enjoyed as a 12 year old boy. In a number of ways, the big red "S" was so much bigger than Luke Skywalker and the Star Wars world. It really resonated for me, probably due in no small part to the fact that the character was already such a huge part of our culture over the previous 39 years up until the time when the movie came out.
The theme of a young demi-god landing on Earth and living with and helping his human co-inhabitants is as old as the Hercules of Greek legend. The line uttered by Jor-El (Marlon Brando) that said "That is why I sent you, my only son..." has an obvious Biblical reference. I think these dramatic aspects, combined with the huge scope and beautiful production quality of the original film made it practically a modern masterpiece that still holds up today.
Back in 1978, after seeing the movie at the Capitol Six Theatre with my friend Curtis, we had to run to catch our bus home. As we darted through the crowds of Granville Mall towards the bus stop, I heard John Williams' Superman theme music in my head and felt high as a kite with some kind of inexplicable elation. I felt like I could run faster than the bus if I really tried. It was so inspiring to believe in a hero again! I think I really wanted to believe that Superman could fly.
The way Mr. Reeve survived his tragic accident and paralysis, and struggled for almost 10 years to heal and to reach out and inspire others with spinal chord injuries, he reminded me of that inspiration again as an adult. I wanted to believe that Christopher Reeve could walk again.
Christopher Reeve Links:
The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation
Christopher Reeve: 1952 - 2004
blogcritics.org: "Why did Christopher Reeve die?"
Other Superman Links:
Posted by E. John Love at Sunday, October 17, 2004