Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oh, dear Mr. Bean

Did you watch the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremonies? Did some of it leave you baffled, full as it was of British in-jokes and references? If it did, I am sure there is one segment which you understood and enjoyed (and maybe laughed out loud at, like I did) - the appearance of Rowan Atkinson in character as the one-man disaster zone, Mr. Bean.

In Mr. Bean, Atkinson created a character who spreads chaos wherever he goes, leaving the normal folk around him either confused, aghast or infuriated, and often all three. The small miracle of this is that the complicated vignettes that comprise Mr. Bean's adventures happen almost entirely without dialogue of any sort.

The result is a character whose shenanigans are accessible to practically anyone, anywhere. People who have known me in real life or online for a long time know that I spent many years working for an organization that provided services to immigrants to Canada. One of my great joys during that time was sitting in on viewings of Mr. Bean videotapes by staff and clients. People from far-flung countries around the world, with a dozen different mother tongues and wildly varying capacity to speak English, would sit together and laugh until we literally cried at the appalling misadventures of Mr. Bean. People who couldn't exchange more than five words with each other would catch each other's eyes and nod knowingly. This fellow, everyone could understand - if not understand. Who changes their clothes while driving to an important meeting? And how does a grown man end up with a Christmas turkey on his head, anyway???

Well, we knew how, actually - we watched him do it. And in my second life as a deaf person I also now understand what a treasure this comedy is to deaf and hard-of-hearing people - especially those without access to closed-captions. Rowan Atkinson, Mr. Bean, you are a wonder and a terror and a blessing.

And in case you happened to miss Mr. Bean's tour-de-force performance as a distracted keyboardist playing the theme from "Chariots of Fire" with the London Symphony Orchestra during the Olympic opening ceremonies, enjoy.

Well, that was nice while it lasted. Apparently everyone who posted the relevant video from the opening ceremony has been made to take it down. How very un-Mr. Bean of them. :(



Blogger Sherwood Harrington said...

I can't see or hear of Mr. Bean without thinking of my mother -- she absolutely loved him!

10:44 p.m.  
Blogger Brian Fies said...

I did miss the Beanolympics, so thanks for that. I'm a fan.

2:53 a.m.  
Anonymous Brandon McBride said...

I do love Mr. Bean's comedy - he's great! I never really noticed the lack of dialog until now, though - and I think the fact that anyone can appreciate it makes it that much greater.

5:48 p.m.  

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