The cultural moment of Benedict Cumberbatch

October 23, 2013

In its cover article this week (October 28, 2013), Benedict Cumberbatch featured in Time magazine.  As readers of this blog may have noted, I am a fan of “cultural moments”, and Cumberbatch may well be the current man who captures the moment.

(In fact, my PhD thesis at Macquarie University, is entitled The Making of a Cultural Moment: Mel Gibson’s ‘Passion’ Goes to the Movies.)

The Time article author Jesse Dorris has a neat paragraph capturing both Cumberbatch’s “moment” and defining the nature of what a “cultural moment” means in film:

Sometimes an actor captures a cultural moment in a film.  Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction, for example, embodied the fever dreams of the feminist backlash in a single sociopath, a woman whose sexual power threatened to destroy all it touched.  and sometimes an actor’s body of work provides a kind of historical shorthand:  Dennis Hopper’s shift from Easy Rider‘s wide-eyed radical to the shell-shocked journalist in Apocalypse Now to the suburban, Reagan-era rot of Blue Velvet captures almost 20 years in under seven hours.

In a single year’s clutch of performances, Cumberbatch has channeled half a dozen shades of zeitgeist.

His latest is playing Julian Assange in the film The Fifth Estate… as well as Star Trek Into Darkness, August: Osage County (with Meryl Streep) and 12 Years a Slave. Can’t wait.

Benedict Cumberbatch Time cover

 

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