Our review of the documentary Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony: La chance d’un dunce on Arte

CRITICISM – Over a beautiful portrait signed by the sisters Clara and Julia Kuperberg, all the complexity of the actor who became famous thanks to the silence of the lambs. Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthonya documentary not to be missed this Sunday, November 27 at 10:45 p.m. on Arte and arte.tv

Late recognition. Born on December 31, 1937, Anthony Hopkins waited almost thirty years before becoming famous and feeling legitimate in the profession. The comedian from Wales, currently playingArmageddon Time, James Gray’s last film, only achieved world star status in 1991. Thanks to his role as a cannibalistic psychopath in Thesilenceofthelambs by Jonathan Demme. Upon receiving an Oscar for his masterful performance, this only son immediately thought of his parents: “First of all, I would like to say hello to my mother… My father died, eleven years ago, maybe it is also thanks to him…“Later, amused, in an interview found by the sisters Clara and Julia Kuperberg, he lets go: “Now I can make turnips and I didn’t miss it!»

baker’s son

The two directors and producers reconstruct her trajectory in a very rich and relevant documentary, illustrated with archive footage and excerpts from interviews. Entitled Hannibal Hopkins and Sir Anthony, this new film insists on the complex character of the actor. The result is a lovely portrait that received the Best International Documentary Film Award from the AmDocs Festival in Palm Springs.

Sir Anthony presents himself as a happy person “in its own way”, but he doubted himself from childhood. “I was stupid, today it looks dyslexic… Retarded, slow.Dunce, the boy stays in his corner, but already dreams of being famous. The black and white photographs which represent him as a kid in a suit and tie with his parents are moving: “They worried about me, but strangely I had an idyllic childhoodSays this baker’s son who plays Beethoven on the piano and helps his father in the bakery.

Stage fright problem

Anthony Hopkins will take time before loving himself and finding a balance in his existence. “I don’t know what my role is in this world”, he points out. Before finally finding the answer: to be an actor. In 1965, Sir Laurence Olivier hired him at the Royal National Theater in London, but “his” pupil did not find his place in the theater and even less in an institution. “I was my own enemy”, believes the one who tried to escape reality by drinking. Stage fright must have been part of the problem. “To succeed in this job, you really have to be disturbed”, laughs the actor who, at 37, decides to change his life, radically. He leaves his wife and their daughter and goes to Hollywood to make movies. He discovers tequila there, gets carried away on film sets. “I felt very unhappy and very unstable and had no self-confidence“, he confides.

A fragile and touching character

The artist takes care of himself, works like a dog. In 1978, Magic by Richard Attenborough, where he is a more real-life ventriloquist, gives him wings. He is convinced: “Acting has been therapeutic for me.. If I hadn’t been an actor, I wouldn’t have become a good person.” His role as a physician Elephant Man by David Lynch inspires Jonathan Demme. Anthony Hopkins will be his monster of the silence of the lambs. “Playing the madness of a madman is ridiculous, I chose to play his super sane side“, explains the actor in an archive of the time. Jodie Foster has not forgotten how much he had destabilized and … frightened her.

The star will then be on familiar ground for the Dracula by Francis Ford Coppola, then began to work with James Ivory, Back to Howard Ends, Today’s Remains… Until Nixon by Oliver Stone. “I have been very lucky”observes the one who embodies a fragile and touching character, suffering from senile dementia, in The fatherFlorian Zeller’s film released in 2020. But isn’t it also and above all the seventh art which is lucky enough to have such a phenomenon in its ranks?


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