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Beginning, Kenneth Branagh

I’m in love with Kenneth Branagh–no! Not that way! I’m in love with the talent and the drive. And the love is mixed with equal parts envy and recrimination. Oh, how I would like to be Branagh, aged 28, and directing himself in Henry V, or, even before that, just as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, filming a movie of the early life of D.H. Lawrence in Australia. Yes, I would like to be an actor, but for ever much a dream it may be in Britain, even more so in America. Here, there are only two places where one can gain recognition–New York and Los Angeles. Even more so, those are probably the only places one could make a living at it. But it’s envy of the man’s energy just as much. Sure, it may be the case that becoming an actor is easier in Britain, but then how does one explain Branagh’s writing his own one-man shows, or his first play. No, this is truly a man with talent and drive, probably equally strong. And so the recrimination. I am 27, only a year away from the magic age at which this book was written, and what do I have to show for it? I finally have my Bachelor’s degree, I’ve published two stories and written a few more, I’ve been involved in one magazine of note, and I’ve lived in several places besides where I grew up. And that’s it. Not really a lot. Wasted time? Some of it, and yet, on the other hand, I wouldn’t exchange it, either. I just with that I had something more tangible to show for it. Branagh’s young to write an autobiography, even a first volume as this undoubtably will turn out to be, and he comments as much. Even for all his accomplishments, he isn’t content to rest. There’s a moral there, I believe. What Branagh has to show you is that greatness, which I do believe he has already obtained, is not an ephemeral quality, but elusive and rare. It can be had, through hard work. I heard someone recently on NPR–a poet, I think–talk about writing. He said, attempt greatness, because if you fail, well, then, it may simply be good, which isn’t bad. But if you only attempt to be good…. I will attempt greatness.

[Finished 1 January 1994]


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First Impressions Copyright © 2016 by Glen Engel-Cox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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