Richard Attenborough – Brighton Rock
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Richard Attenborough today stars in the 1964 drama, Guns at Batasi, which aired from 12pm on 5 Action. Alongside Richard are the likes of cherished Hollywood star Mia Farrow as well as Jack Hawkins. It follows the story of rebellion in a newly independent African state and how the sergeants’ mess becomes a home for refugees.
Describing the film — which saw Richard claim a BAFTA for his role — film magazine Filmink said it was “a subject like this is a political minefield, with its hot topic subjects of imperialism, militarism, race, emerging democracies, etc”.
It added: “It works best as a siege story, on which basis it is very exciting.”
Of course, Richard was not the only person in his family to find fame: his brother, David Attenborough, has become one of the BBC’s most successful employees ever.
A beloved, naturist, David has often opened up on his brother’s death which occurred in 2014.
In one heartbreaking confession, David admitted his sibling was left heartbroken after having to leave the house he had loved for many years of his life.
In 2012, David spoke about his brother’s health, which had become a growing source of concern for those closest to him.
The concern was not new, however, as in 2008, Richard fell over at Christmas, his family believing it may be time for him to move out of the home.
He lived at his £11.5million south-west London home — complete with its own sound-proofed cinema in the garden — with his wife Sheila Sim, whom he wedded in 1945.
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Reflecting on the need for Richard to move out, David told The Daily Telegraph at the time: “He and his wife both loved the house, but they now need full-time care.”
“It simply isn’t practical to keep the house on any more.”
The house in Richmond Green was originally purchased four years after the couple wedded, and as Richard once recalled: “Everything is nice about living in Richmond.
“It hasn’t really changed over the years. Except the aircraft. They are dreadful. They come over about every minute.”
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Across the years, Richard’s health panicked those closest to him, including son Michael.
According to The Telegraph, Michael noted how his father was briefly placed into a coma over Christmas, and that afterward he “found it very hard to get around and very difficult to communicate”.
He added: “Taking activity away from my dad is like taking a bottle away from an alcoholic.”
In a 2013 interview, with the same publication, Michael noted how as his health continued to deteriorate, Richard was moved to a care home alongside his mother in December 2012.
A year later, in 2014, Richard passed away aged 90, survived by his wife Sheila who passed in 2016.
Meanwhile, In 2001, Historian Wendy Webster, writing for The Journal of British Studies about Richard’s Guns at Batasi, opined that the “film continuously asserts the racial superiority of the British and at the same time shows that such superiority no longer provides any guarantee of authority or power”.
She concluded: “Guns at Batasi is an elegy for the soldier hero, particularly the imperial soldier, and is infused by imperial nostalgia.”
By Guns at Batasi’s release, Richard was already a household name and would go on to cement his legacy in film with appearances in blockbusters such as Jurassic Park and The Great Escape.
He would go on to achieve universal acclaim for his direction in 1982’s Gandhi, collecting the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture the following year.
Guns at Batasi started today from 12pm on 5 Action.
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