When someone as young as Heath Ledger dies an unexpected death, the fact that he was a heartthrob, movie star and well known to the world is pushed aside. This was a young man who was mourned as a father, son, brother and friend. Famous or not famous, Heath Ledger was a young man with a huge life and future ahead of him. Tragically, that future and that life were cut short.
Tribute to Heath Ledger: The Unauthorized Story, takes the viewer behind the scenes of Ledger’s film career, from beginning to end. Starting out in popular soap opera programs in Australia, he was soon noticed for the budding talent that he possessed and was cast in his breakout role as Patrick Verona, a high school bad boy with a soft heart, in 10 Things I Hate About You. After such a sweet performance, he went on to attract attention in The Patriot and A Knight's Tale, after which he was cast in a heavier role in Monster’s Ball, then the well known film Brokeback Mountain, in which he was cast as a homophobic gay cowboy. Brokeback Mountain seemed to be a turning point for Ledger, not only in his career, but in his personal life as well, when he meets Michelle Williams, which leads to the birth of his baby daughter, Matilda Rose.
Things seemed to be going well for Ledger until questions of a drug problem arise around the time of filming Candy, a dark tale of love and spiraling drug addiction. The pressure seems to have created a possible rift between Ledger and Williams, leading to a separation and his move to New York.
Near the end of his life, Ledger portrayed the Joker in The Dark Knight. Sadly enough, this is touted as the best role in his short career, and he was not even alive to shine in the glow of such a great accomplishment.
Tribute to Heath Ledger: The Unauthorized Story is mainly comprised of interviews with fellow actors, as well as a running interview with Ledger, throughout. There are also several clips of Ledger during film promotions, short interviews, clips, and talk of his movies including Two Hands, The Brothers Grimm, Casanova, and Lords of Dogtown, among many others.
I found Tribute to Heath Ledger: The Unauthorized Story to be rather interesting and it shed a bit more light on his movie career, beyond what I had previously known. I found it heartwarming that his fellow actors, even those who may not have worked with him, to be saddened by this unexpected loss. It seems as though this young man made a huge impact during such a short life. I think the part that I found particularly interesting and engrossing was near the end. A friend of Ledger’s had wanted to paint him for a very long time. However, Ledger did not feel comfortable enough with himself to do so. Near the end of his life, he called up his friend, said that he was ready, and so the portrait was done. I had not seen this before and thought it was gorgeous and spoke volumes, in and of itself. In the center is Ledger, from about mid-chest up and on either side of him is another image of himself, both appearing to be whispering in his ear. This is what stands out to me from this entire documentary.
In addition to the main documentary, there are bonus features. Examples include “Ledger as The Dark Knight”, “Ledger’s Ladies” and “The Lost Boys: James Dean & Heath Ledger”. I didn’t feel that the bonus extras were anything special, and they were repetitions of what had already been covered in the film, only with a few little added bits.
Overall, I think that Tribute to Heath Ledger: The Unauthorized Story is informative and interesting, giving a bit more of a behind the scenes look into Heath’s career. Anyone looking for information or a perspective into Ledger’s personal life will not find it here. While there are tidbits and pieces of his life, the main focus is his film career.