It’s been a year since the sudden tragic death of Heath Ledger, when the film industry mourned the passing of an aspiring young actor, proving his talents in a wide variety of testing roles that have delighted audiences in their individuality and passion.

Following from his earlier roles, in Australian soap Home and Away and as a small character in Paws, Ledger’s big-screen break came when he landed one of the lead roles in Gil Junger’s adaptation of the classic Shakespeare play, ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. 10 Things I Hate About You saw Ledger in a quirky romantic role alongside Julia Stiles, providing him with a rugged, bad-boy edge, that later saw him play a soldier alongside Mel Gibson in The Patriot, a character who defies his father to join the fight and suffers hardships in the battlefield. The film won several awards, and helped to catapult Ledger into the spotlight on a different level to his previous roles.

This was shortly followed by his casting in the lead role of A Knight’s Tale, a comic adaptation of medieval times, with some heartfelt moments mixed in with parodical modern twists, such as the jousting crowd performing a Mexican wave and chanting an adaptation of Queen’s infamous hit, ‘We Will Rock You’.

This film became an iconic role for Heath Ledger, but he still remained as versatile as ever, working his way through numerous characters until his casting opposite Jake Gyllenhaal in Ang Lee‘s Oscar-winning masterpiece, Brokeback Mountain. Released in 2005, the film follows the lives of two cowboys, played by Ledger and Gyllenhaal, who embark on a secret, forbidden relationship. The passionate love affair is represented beautifully by both actors, highlighting once again Ledger’s skill as an actor, and cementing him as a household name throughout the world.

However, it was Ledger’s performance in Christopher Nolan‘s sequel to Batman Begins that many considered to be his most powerful and breathtaking performance. The Dark Knight followed on the story seamlessly, showing Bruce Wayne’s battle against a terrifying new villain. Although Christian Bale was fantastic in his role, it was Ledger’s performance as The Joker that really made the film stand out, acting as an emotional roller-coaster for the audience and creating a delicious tension that kept everyone on the edge of their seats.

Sadly, this film was to be Ledger’s last. He died of an accidental overdose on 22nd January 2008. The release of The Dark Knight was almost a tribute to his passing, as he has been nominated to receive an Oscar for his performance.

Heath Ledger’s death was extremely saddening for his fans. In his 28 years he showed true potential as an actor, and it’s clear his premature death ended what was set to be a spectacular career.

On a personal note, I shall be lighting a candle for him tonight. Prayers for his soul, and may he never be forgotten.

Kirsty Watkinson

Stu-Ents Archive
The Dark Knight – Review


The shock of Heath Ledger’s tragic passing increased the excitement for his role as the joker in The Dark Knight ten-fold. What was already set to be a great, iconic performance would now become the actor’s swansong. As the prospect of a post-humus Oscar looms with near-certainty, the quality of Ledger’s performance is difficult to ignore.

Despite this, the film isn’t called The Joker, and leading lad Christian Bale is the guy we should be focusing on. Rightly so, as Bale’s performance, aside from the questionable ‘gravely’ voice, is nothing short of outstanding, bringing more depth to the character than the teenage brooding of Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins.

The story follows on from the teasing ending of it’s prequel, with The Joker’s clowns robbing a mob bank, only to be taken out one-by-one after they’d done their job. The opener owes a lot to Michael Mann’s Heat, which also features William Fichtner in a bank robbery, and sets the tone of the film exquisitely.

Director Christopher Nolan, who also co-writes, has pitched the balance between action and character perfectly, giving the audience just enough explosions and acts of mayhem from The Joker to spice things up, but leave the audience wanting more.
The returning supporting cast enhance their performance, and Aaron Eckhart is masterful as twisted attorney Harvey Dent, but newcomer Maggie Gyllenhaal‘s efforts as childhood friend and romantic interest Rachel Dawes falls short of the mark, and it soon becomes clear that the role was written specifically for Katie Holmes, who donned the dress in Batman Begins.

The film earns its record-breaking reception, delivering one of the most nail-biting comic-book action flicks for a generation, rivalling Richard Donner’s original Superman in terms of impact.

There have been numerous parallels drawn between The Joker and terrorism, none more apparent than in the Gotham Hospital scene, which destroyed the actual building as its climax, but to limit The Joker’s larks as mere reactions to world-wide terror would be unfair, Ledger’s Joker is sarcastic and personal, pushing the Batman’s buttons and providing the most convincing scene of the film with his ‘magic trick’.

Hi-def Blu-Ray does this film the justice it deserves, but this is a film that everyone should own, since it sublimely transcends it’s genres to offer a comprehensive cinematic experience.

James Parry
Entertainment Editor
Pluto Student Newspaper

I’d like to use my first post to offer prayers for Morgan Freeman.

For those who haven’t heard, Morgan was in a car accident in Mississippi on Sunday. The news so far is that he is recovering from surgery to repair nerve damage in his left arm and hand, but he is reportedly in high spirits.

Oscar-winning actor Morgan has an impressive filmography to date. One of his most memorable roles was as Ellis Boyd Redding (“Red”) in The Shawshank Redemption, based on the short story by Stephen King. He later starred in another Stephen King film adaptation, this time as madman Col. Curtis in the big screen version of Dreamcatcher. His Oscar came from his work as a supporting actor in the 2004 film Million Dollar Baby, alongside many other key roles of his career, including a detective in Se7en, the President in Deep Impact, and his portrayal of God in Bruce Almighty and Evan Almighty.

His most recent film, Batman adaptation The Dark Knight, is still showing in cinemas, a continuation of his role as lovable ex-board member turned business manager Lucius Fox in Batman Begins.

With such an impressive media presence, I’m sure many of you will join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.

Kirsty Watkinson

(with thanks to James Parry for research assistance and creative input)

et cetera