15 January 2009

the wrath of the reaper

Ricardo Montalban, the man who brought superhuman villain Khan Noonian Singh to life so expertly in an episode of original Star Trek ("Space Seed") and the best Star Trek movie (as opposed to Star Trek movie - there's an important difference there), Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, has died. He was 88 years old.

Burned forever into my brain will be his performance as Khan. He was so powerful that he just took over the screen whenever he stepped onto it (which is no small feat when you're competing against William Shatner). He was always totally in the moment, and absolutely in command of his performance. Montalban was a star in the truest sense of the word (to dust off a fairly old cliche that possesses a lot of truth), and never would he shine more brightly than when he played Kirk's nemesis on the silver screen (look here; he shows up at about the 4:50 mark).

Khan was so perfectly diametrically opposed to James T. Kirk, from the first moment to the last. Khan took (or attempted to take) what he believed was his by virtue of his superiority as a perfect man, while Kirk accepted his imperfections and used that acceptance to strengthen himself. Khan was ruthless, unbending and evil; Jim Kirk was nothing if not a man who knew how to improvise, and, at his core, the sort of man every little boy who saw the show aspired to be.

Regardless of the fact that he was able to play such a brilliant villain, he always seemed like the sweetest of men when I saw him interviewed. Gracious, even eager to talk about his work in Star Trek, or the two Planet of the Apes films in which he acted (who better to teach a superintelligent ape born in the wrong era of all that could be good in an awful world than Ricardo Montalban? No one).

I didn't know that he'd written his autobiography; I'm going to track it down and attempt to educate myself more thoroughly on the subject of Mr. Montalban. I wish him a safe journey, and hope that he doesn't have to commandeer a spaceship to get him where he's going.

1 comment:

timd said...

dude, he fucking rules in the apes flicks.

i really love the apes movies. want 'em on blueray.

it's back before everyone had a big LOST style endgame, so none of the movies are filler - they're all super creative, makin' up worldly arcs as they go along.
they're also awesome.