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.