Monday, March 29, 2010

Fan-Boy Icon #7

He's one of the world's great actors, but is not afraid to step down to the "Every Man" realm. Max von Sydow was the knight Antonius Block in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal, portrayed Jesus of Nazareth in The Greatest Story Ever Told, and Father Merrin in The Exorcist. Yet, he was also Ming the Merciless in the Dino de Laurentis Flash Gordon, Brewmeister Smith in Strange Brew, the voice of Vigo in Ghostbusters II, King Osric in Conan the Barbarian... The man gets around. He was even one of the string of Ernst Stavro Blofelds, appearing in Never Say Never Again.

Then, there is Dune, Dreamscape, Rush Hour 3 (really?), Minority Report, Judge Dread, Needful Things, The Ice Pirates... I mean, he's like the white Morgan Freeman, because the man is in everything. If they ever make The Life and Times of Max von Sydow, guess who will play him? He will!

Now, despite all the roles he has played, none stand out like the Emperor Ming. In Flash Gordon, von Sydow puts on the smarmiest display I have ever seen. Ming is a man who is both god and devil. He is all powerful, and is played with this incredible aloof malevolence that makes the movie. If you have never watched Flash Gordon, yes it is hokey and stupid at times, it must be watched just for Ming the Merciless. Hell, fast forward through any scene he is not in, if you want. Watch it. Do.


Wings1295 said...

I never thought about how much he has truly gotten around! And yeah, he took Ming to incredible heights of villainy!

Lockwood said...

I have always enjoyed von Sydow, pretty much in everything I've seen him in. But I hadn't realized (or didn't remember) that he played Ming. However, it's been around 25 years since I've seen that film, so this may not be surprising.

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Wings - He was so majestically sickening. :-)

@Lockwood - I always thought he was Skeletor in the He-Man movie, but I think that was Frank Langella. If you don't remember the '80s, you are lucky ;-)

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