Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1981: Paul Freeman in Raiders of the Lost Ark

Paul Freeman did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Dr. René Belloc in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The only acting nomination Raiders of the Lost Ark received, outside of the genre based Saturn Awards, was a BAFTA nomination for Denholm Elliot. All I can say about that nomination is that, boy did the BAFTA voters love Denholm Elliot as his turn as Marcus Brody in this film consists very little more than him knocking on a door and giving just a little bit of exposition, he actually got to do something with his reprisal of the role in The Last Crusade. If BAFTA was going to nominate someone from the film they should have nominated Paul Freeman in the largest and most important performance out of the supporting actors in the film.

Belloc is the main villain of the film and essentially an anti Indiana Jones. Like Indiana he is archeologist who is looking for rare artifacts, but unlike Jones he takes basically a passive approach where basically lets Jones do all the work then stealing it afterwards. Also instead of doing everything himself, Belloc likes to use various allies he wants to exploit in someway including joining up with the Nazis since they meet his needs. Even his moral alignment is a bit like Jones, Belloc is evil but not purely evil just as Jones is good but has some rough qualities in his personality.

Paul Freeman in turn plays the role in a manner that again reinforces Belloc as a shadow to the heroic Jones. Freeman plays the role with a nicely placed ease, and general smugness as Belloc. In the opening scene of the film when Belloc steals the artifact from Jones Freeman adds vinegar to the wounds by showing just how much joy Belloc gets out of screwing over Jones. It is not just about getting the artifact for Belloc as Freeman makes a nice ego in Belloc that not only wants to gain the reward from theft, but the idea that proving himself the smarter of the two seems to be the even greater prize for Belloc.

Freeman makes Belloc easy going and even slightly detached at times as he lets others do the work, which is the much the opposite of Ford's very driven and sometimes rather emotionally intense performance. Belloc and Jones do share a few traits although even these they share at opposing ends. Freeman makes Belloc actually a charming fellow when he attempts to seduce Marion (Karen Allen), but unlike the down to earth charisma of Ford, Freeman brings a more refined style to Belloc's charms. Their other shared trait is their love of archaeology but again even though it is their shared profession they still have differing attitudes when it comes to the subject.

Indiana Jones in a few important scenes has a wonderment of the ancient treasures, Freeman shows that Belloc shares this although in a strangely selfish fashion. Freeman's best scene is when he calls Jones's bluff to destroy the Ark of the Covenant, but adds the importance of it as he encourages him. Freeman's delivery is terrific as we see that wonderment that Jones had in Belloc, although Freeman adds just the right hint of an elitist indulgence to it, to reinforce the idea that all important mysterious should be found and discovered by him and no one else. Freeman foil of Ford's work is nicely handled right down the line and provides the film with a good dignified villain, even if his demise is decidedly most undignified.


koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

This may sound silly (in fact, it is silly) but can you review him for 1995 Supporting? He was a RIOT in The Power Rangers Movie.

Matt Mustin said...

koook: He was the only one in that film who realized EXACTLY what kind of movie it was.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

He pulled a Raul Julia.

Anonymous said...

Always loved him here , and molla ram in Temple.

mrripley said...

And he swallowed a fly without missing 1 beat.