Margaret Thatcher: 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013 (UK Prime Minister 4 May 1979 -28 Nov 1990)
She was important in my life in that I was born in 1979 so my first 11 years were tainted by her being at the helm of British politics. I even remember where I was when she was ousted - first year History lesson with Mrs Jones – and it was a monumental time of political awareness for me.
I hate a lot of what she stood for, I hate her attitude to feminism and I despise the vast majority of her politics. She did however achieve the remarkable feat of being the only ever British female Prime Minister and to date the longest serving. Her policies have left me with a bitter aftertaste so all in all my only tribute to her is to encourage you to watch this film about one of her less fine moments, The Fawklands, and I may get around to watching The Iron Lady at some point soon.
Jane Henson : 16 June 1934 – 2 April 2013
Another lady who influenced my early years, however little I knew of it at the time, was co-creator of The Muppets Jane Henson. Apparently they “were mostly doing it just to entertain ourselves” , but it there is no doubt they enchanted and delighted the entire world too. So I pay tribute to her not just for helping bring Miss Piggy, Kermit, A Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet babies and many other unforgettable characters to life, but with deep gratitude for my Henson favourite Farscape and for founding the Jim Henson Legacy, which continues to publicise his creative influence through exhibitions and presentations. Watch this and I dare you not to smile.
(Juan José) Bigas Luna : 19 March 1946 – 6 April 2013
Not such a direct influence on my life, but as a huge fan of Spanish cinema and Javier Bardem as an actor it would be a huge shame not to mention this extremely talented director who helped promote the talents of many of Spains greatest actors.
Given that he was a man who espoused great cinematic vibrancy I will direct you to the Guardian photo gallery - http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/gallery/2013/apr/08/bigas-luna-best-films-pictures
Richard Griffiths : 31 July 1947 – 28 March 2013
A couple of days after his death King Ralph was on TV and even in a film which is a guilty pleasure you get a sense of Richard Griffith’s great affability. He had a true talent for playing genuinely warm hearted characters. James Corden wrote this moving piece about him and he was not alone in the acting community to fall over themselves to laud and praise him. My first filmic encounter with him was of course as the larger than life Monty in Withnail & I a role filled with comedy, gravitas and amazing enunciation!
Roger Ebert : June 18, 1942 - April 4, 2013
Dear reader we would not be here together had I not loved this man’s way with words. He championed great filmmakers and his personal philosophy was one of kindness. He was articulate, embraced emergent technology and wouldn't shirk at taking on the living breathing organism of bigotry that is the Westboro Baptist Church in his dying days. He is a man I continue to respect, trust and revere. If you’re not sure if you should watch a film you can never fail to get a better understanding than reading his considered reviews. My film life has been richer for him and will continue to be for years to come. I leave you with the man himself, his own review of himself and his considerable legacy. http://www.rogerebert.com/rogers-journal/a-leave-of-presence
Here he is reviewing The Shawshank Redemption with his long time collaborator Gene Siskel.