In tribute to a man who touched my life and the lives of countless others in brilliant and lasting ways, I am repeating my blog post from last year (with slight modifications). Blake — your work lives on, but you are greatly missed.
There is nearly a full shelf of DVDs in my bookcase that stand as a lasting tribute to a man who was brilliantly funny and darkly discerning; who held a mirror up to us and made us see the bleak and disconcerting elements there as well as the farcical and the purely delightful; who dug deep past the locked doors of our psyches, but also celebrated moments of sheer joy and delight.
Today, July 26, 2012, would have been Blake Edwards’ 90th birthday, the second commemoration of his birth since his death in December 2010. Such a day moves across the movie screen that is life like an actor wearing two masks, the mask of Tragedy and the mask of Comedy, turning first one, then the other toward the audience. There is sorrow, deep sorrow, that he is no longer here, but there is also joy that he was here for the time that he was, and that he left his mark indelibly upon each person whose life he touched.
Anyone who has known me for any length of time, or who has read this blog for any length of time, will know how deeply I admired Blake — and not just for his brilliance as a writer, director, producer. His self-acknowledged struggles with depression and with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and his ability to work through those struggles by turning to that characteristic black humor of his, has inspired me in my own struggles. His staunch, though quiet, support of the humanitarian efforts of organizations such as Operation USA reminds me to look for the needs of people around me and further away, and use my own resources creatively and willingly to help where I can. The way his talents spilled over in a multitude of ways — painting and sculpting as well as writing and directing, to name just a few — nudges me to seek out my own talents and give them expression. His continued interest in how things were done, and the fact that he was still working on new ideas in the last years of his life, encourages me to keep questioning, to keep thinking, to keep working, as long as there’s still that spark of life in my brain and heart.
You may be aware that one of my current writing projects is a novel dedicated to Blake’s memory. It is not in any way meant to portray him, it is simply meant as my attempt to say “Thank you, Blake” and to serve as a tribute to the bright, black genius that was Blake Edwards.