The Death of a Great Vol. 2: Alan Rickman (1946-2016)
It might seem like tempting fate to run a memorial series while we’re only halfway through the year, but Grub staffers are not known for their superstitions (we’re known for our fancy hats). With the loss of so many cultural luminaries in the first half of 2016, writers in the Grub community and beyond needed time and distance to process what those collective losses meant to them. Some of those losses, like Bowie and Ali, were felt across the globe, while others you might not have heard about at all. In this series, writers come to grips with what we gained and lost in the lives and deaths of key cultural figures this year. In the second installment of this series, Katrina Ávila Munichiello reacts to the death of Alan Rickman.
Echoes of Alan Rickman
With a sonorous voice that seemed to echo from every cell in his body, just a few words from Alan Rickman could make my world pause. The more slowly and carefully he enunciated his words, the more terrifying his deep growl became. And I loved every minute.
As for many people, Alan Rickman will always be Severus Snape in my mind. He will sport the stringy black hair and the ever-present glower of contempt. He will be the villain you love to hate, until he reveals himself as one of the most tremendous heroes to grace the page and screen.
It would not be right to limit the acknowledgement of his accomplishments to the Harry Potter movies, of course. He was a brilliant actor who was featured in 68 films and who had been honored with an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA. Upon his death last January, he was described as soulful and funny with a wicked charm — “a real man of the theatre and stage.”
Reading these tributes reminded me of when a musician dies and I realize how much of their body of work I had missed. How would Rickman have felt about the Harry Potter films being the embodiment of his work for so many? Then I read his friend and colleague Emma Thompson’s words at his passing, honoring his “capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word.” And I realized, these films presented the best of him. We got to see power, passion, dark wit, and the deepest emotion. He touched people to their very cores.
Goodbye, Alan Rickman. You may be gone, but your power lives on.
Katrina is a freelance writer, editor, blogger, and author. Her work has appeared in publications including Yankee Magazine, Boston Globe Sunday Magazine, Living Without, and Fresh Cup Magazine.