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DVD Review

DVD cover

I am Heath Ledger


Starring: Heath Ledger
Distributor: Spirit Entertainment
Certificate: E
Release Date: 22 January 2018

On 22 January 2008 Heath Ledger was found dead of an apparent accidental prescription drug overdose. Despite his youth Ledger left behind him a significant and memorable body of work including roles in The Patriot (2000), Brokeback Mountain (2005) as well as his standout performance as the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight (2008)...

I am Heath Ledger (2017 1 hr, 27 min, 41 sec) directed by Adrian Buitenhuis and Derik Murray is a documentary which uses archive film and pictures juxtaposed with original contributions from his friends and family.

The documentary was particularly blessed as Ledger, being interested in the art of film making, shot a lot of home movies which are interspersed with family pictures and snippets from his films. What is noticeable about the piece is just how positive it is. Of course, there will be people who would like to make more of the manner of his death, probably hoping to uncover a dirtier, dark side, but Ledger seems to have ben a very positive person. He had fame, wealth, a loving family, good friends and the rest of his life to look forward to.

If you’re looking for negativity then the documentary will disappoint, but if you’re honestly looking to see how Ledger touched the lives of those around him, then the documentary does not disappoint. I don’t think that there has been a concerted effort to whitewash either his personal life or the manner of his death, sometimes accidents just happen to good people.

Unlike similar documentaries, this is a very personal film. Watching his home movies and listening to his friends and family almost feels like an intrusion into a very private part of Ledger's life. As an audience we still have the option to watch his movies but the love on display here for a young man makes for a poignant piece of film making.

The film presents mostly a linear narrative from his birth in Australia, to making it big in America and his untimely death. A lot of his earlier acting career is not touched on, but I think this is because the film is not trying to portray Ledger the actor, rather we get an insight to Ledger the man which ends up as a rather moving and fitting tribute. Likewise, you never get the feeling that any of the participants are there in the hopes of getting their faces known, the focus always remains in Ledger even when you cannot see him.

The DVD comes with a couple of extras. The Feature Trailer (2 min, 27 sec) obviously does not show you anything you have not seen in the main feature. More substantial is the More Stories from Friends and Family (23 min, 04 sec), presumably cut for time. Like the film the new material covers the length of his life and are presented in chronological order.

In the end its just like Tyrell said, "The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long".


Charles Packer

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