The Man in Black

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The iconic character of “The Man in Black” is Westley in The Princess Bride (a film I saw so many times during my youth that I once embarked on a recitation of every single line, in unison with my clearly equally obsessed cousin, at a family gathering… we eventually ran out of steam, although not out of memory, whilst the rest of our relatives had long since stopped listening to us anyway!).

Along with Westley there are many other movie characters with various “man-in-black” traits: mysterious secrets in their past history, a Byronic persona that is simultaneously unnerving and alluring, an undeclared noble mission, or a certain air of enigma surrounding their words and actions. Some are good guys, some are bad guys, and many are ambiguous. (Motivation-wise, that is… in terms of masculinity, there is nothing ambiguous about these guys!) What they do have in common, as a signal to these aspects in their characters, is their black – or otherwise dark – attire.

A selection of men in black –>

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Westley / The Man in Black / The Dread Pirate Roberts (Cary Elwes) in The Princess Bride

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Zorro (Frank Langella) in my favourite version of the film: The Mark of Zorro (1974)

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Anakin Skywalker (Hayden Christiansen) in Star Wars

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Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen) in Lord of the Rings

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Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in Thor, The Avengers, and Thor: the Dark World

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Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) in the Twilight saga

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Heathcliff (Ken Hutchison) in Wuthering Heights

(This adaptation, from 1978, is the version of WH to watch, in my view, due to its faithfulness to the novel and to Hutchison’s absolutely flawless portrayal of Heathcliff.)

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Count Adhemar (Rufus Sewell) in A Knight’s Tale 

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Edmond Dantes (Richard Chamberlain) in The Count of Monte Cristo (1975)

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Edmond Dantes (James Caviezel) in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002)

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Erik / The Phantom (Gerard Butler) in The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

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Erik / The Phantom (Charles Dance) in The Phantom of the Opera (1990)

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Edward Rochester (Timothy Dalton) in Jane Eyre

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Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) in Harry Potter 

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Severus Snape (Alan Rickman) in Harry Potter

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Victor (Ronald Colman) in Under Two Flags

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