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Friday, June 21, 2013

A Stunning Tragedy

Good morning. Today--well, two days ago to be more accurate--marks a truly devestating event, one that causes the ordinary individual to take account for this little thing called life. James Gandolfini, an actor renowned for his work on The Sopranos and several films, passed away from a supposed heart attack while on vacation in Rome. That's the capital of Italy; a few people don't know that. I found out about his death yesterday when I was talking with my dad about current events. He mentioned it as if I already knew, which, in all fairness, I should know considering my pseudo-intelligence of the cinematic universe. I was stunned by the news, thinking it to be a mistake or misconception on my dad's part. How could James Gandolfini die? He was only fifty-one, and it is just so out-of-place and unexpected. This event brings me to reminisce about Heath Ledger's death, back in 2008. Nearly six years ago. Time flies. As shocking as that was, for he too was too young to die (though not as young) and it was out-of-place and random, his passing was not as upsetting and unfortunate as James Gandolfini's. While that may be cruel to compare the intensity of my reaction to certain deaths, it is nonetheless true. Heath Ledger died of a drug overdose, and I highly doubt it was "accidental". Call me cruel, but I feel it was a, dare I say, publicity stunt. Awful for me to think so, but he received an Oscar posthumously shortly thereafter. Just a twisted thought.

This is not about him. I am here to mourn the tragic loss of James Gandolfini, a man I really did not realize how much I appreciated him until this sudden occurrence took place. I didn't watch The Sopranos, so, unfortunately, I cannot look fondly back on what must have been his greatest achievement. For his role as Tony Soprano, he received three Emmys and one Golden Globe, as well as the recognition of being one of the best Mob characters on television. (Or only Mob character on television. Really, who else is there worth mentioning?) I remember James Gandolfini for his lesser roles in film. By lesser, I do not mean less important or inferior, rather I am referring to his status in film. People may recognize him on the silver screen, but only as Tony Soprano. Not me. I know him as James Gandolfini, the lovable "big bear" of a man who brought a smile to my face in films such as The Mexican, where he portrayed an adorable yet intimidating hitman who bonded with Julia Roberts; in Surviving Christmas, where he played a disgruntled yet warm family man who tolerates a (rotten-acting) Ben Affleck; and in Get Shorty, portraying the aptly named "Bear", who was an affectionate father despite his career as a bodyguard to the Mob. He was a kind man, from what I've read in recent articles, who was absolutely nothing like the violent, vulgar Mafia boss he portrayed on television. James Gandolfini was a fine gem of an actor, one that I will miss dearly and sincerely.

Condolences to his friends and family, who knew him for the warm man he surely was.

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