attends the GREAT British Film Reception at British Consul General’s Residence on February 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.
ManOfTheCenturyMovie Film Julian Sands and Don’t believe in the inevitable until it hits you in the face

Julian Sands and Don’t believe in the inevitable until it hits you in the face

attends the GREAT British Film Reception at British Consul General’s Residence on February 22, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

The news that the remains of Julian Sands, an actor of extraordinary sensitivity and awareness, were identified in the San Gabriel Mountains in California on June 27 closes a sad and uncertain chapter. Sands will not have a confirmed death date. He simply disappeared on January 13 while hiking near Mt. Baldy amid severe storms, icy conditions and possible avalanches. It took five days just to find his car. Yet the place where he disappeared, a rugged wilderness, was only about 10 miles from the urban sprawl of the Inland Empire. This is California for you: the most densely populated areas overlook what is truly “wild”.

The nature of his passing was such that many of Sands’ admirers, myself included, did not grieve his loss at the time. There was always hope, however remote, that he might be found. He was an experienced and avid hiker, after all. Maybe he found shelter or put on his own makeup and was cut off. By January 25, however, his brother Nick Sands told the BBC“I’ve come to terms with the fact that he’s gone and to me that’s how I dealt with it.”

Sands’ death is not only a tragedy, but a terrible loss to the arts. Though he was from Yorkshire, his long, lean face and slim build didn’t look strictly English. He easily played a Russian separatist character in Season 5 of “24” in 2006: He was trying to assassinate the president of Russia, who in that show’s universe was someone other than Vladimir Putin.

Bad guys came easily to Sands. One of his last notable roles was as a pedophile in the wretched chic WWII drama “The Painted Bird” which is considered one of the most brutal films of the recent season. Although it was an arthouse film and the Venice premiere, Sands has spent a good portion of his career in genre roles, especially horror films like ‘Warlock’, ‘Arachnophobia’ and Dario’s ‘The Phantom of the Opera’ Silver. Whenever he wore his hair long, the fact that he hadn’t been cast in “Interview with the Vampire” underlined an absolute shock.

Her genre work is one thing. It’s his whimsical, romantic turn in his hit film, “A Room with a View,” that most people will immediately picture when thinking of Sands. As George Emerson, a young Englishman from an ascendant middle-class family (“I’m on the rails” George says simply of his profession), he is uptight, tense, naïve, forceful – and given to unique responses such as, in one fluid movement , falling to his knees in a mock prayer when approached by a street vendor in a Florentine cathedral. Sands’ George is a character whose inner life oozes from his pores, and it’s not hard to see why young Englishwoman Abroad Lucy Honeychurch would be attracted to and confused by him on a tour of Italy reserved for English travelers . He will barely say a word at dinner at the boarding house, but the next day he climbs a cypress tree overlooking a heavenly Tuscan field to shout “Beauty! L’Espoir!” It is he who “recites his creed” and invokes “the eternal Yes” says his father.

That moment, an explosion of unbridled naïveté towards the world and nature, is so pure, even if, or especially if, it’s a little awkward. (Imagine that something so strange has happened to almost every other period costume drama with romantic comedy-tinged comfort food period dramas since then.) But all expressions of genuine wonder are, to some extent. That moment left its imprint on my heart, and I was even known, when I crossed a particular high bridge to the beach near my house to say, when I reached the top and was overwhelmed by the incredible beauty of the water , sand, and sky revealed below, to say “Beauty! L’Espoir!” Also. But I’m not sure I’d be bold enough to literally shout it from the treetops to a crowd like the George of Sands does. This is a model of naïveté and emotional purity worth aspiring to.

It’s that openness to the universe and anything it might throw at you that I’d like to think Sands brought to his way of communicating with nature through his hikes — and how he met his demise. He died doing what he loved.

For my part though, when his passing was announced it was hard to believe that he was really gone. My IndieWire colleagues and I first heard the news that he was missing while we were having dinner in Park City, Utah the night before the first day of Sundance. In hindsight, we could have made an obituary at the time. But just like the international media’s four-day obsession with the submersible Titan, in which everyone imagined that the five travelers on the bottom of the North Atlantic might still be alive and at risk of running out of oxygen, this story was over at the very beginning. We just didn’t realize it – or want to make it happen. Of course, in hindsight, the most obvious explanation was that the submersible simply imploded early in its journey, its passengers also losing their lives doing what they loved to do. Of course, in hindsight, Sands was immediately lost.

Perhaps our collective denial of the tragedy of these accidents until there is incontrovertible proof that these they were tragedies is a kind of innocence of George Emerson. In his own way, Sands, with his unforgettable performance as one of cinema’s greatest expressions of optimism, had set the stage for how we would approach his death.

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