24 September 2007

Do not the most moving moments of our lives find us without words?

The great mime Marcel Marceau has died.

Marceau's signature style - the white face with clownish eyes, the striped pullover, baggy pants, and flower-trimmed top hat - grew out of the tradition of the 19th-century harlequin. That tradition, in turn, had its roots in Italian commedia dell'arte, with its stock characters and broad physical comedy. Some of Mr. Marceau's work, particularly the longer pieces he performed with his company, also showed the influence of such diverse theatrical traditions as the masks of ancient Greece and the stylized movements of Japanese Noh performers. But his cinematically concise gestures, Mr. Marceau said, were inspired in part by his childhood idols, Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin.

He was 84.

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