Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Judi Dench: Scenes from My Life - John Miller, Editor

Judi Dench is one of my favorite actresses, especially in the PBS series As Time Goes By.  So when I saw this collection of photographs, Judi Dench:  Scenes from My Life, featured on the new non-fiction shelf at the library, I just had to bring it home and was very happy to spend several hours in the company of this wonderful woman.  Whether you know Dame Judi as M in the James Bond movies, Mrs. Brown, Elizabeth I in Shakespeare in Love or from her many stage roles, you will want to sit with this book for awhile.

Product Description (from
This marvelous collection of images, many of which are drawn from Judi Dench’s personal photo albums, offer the actress’s many fans a rare insight into her life. John Miller, her biographer, has augmented Judi Dench’s own photos with images depicting 50 years of distinguished work in film, theater, and television. From her childhood in York and her first work as an actress in her teens to recent informal shots backstage and private family photos, these images show Judi Dench as never seen before. Judi Dench is the foremost actress in contemporary British theater. She has also won acclaim for her films, with memorable performances in Shakespeare in Love, for which she received an Oscar, as well as Iris, Chocolat, Mrs. Brown, and Mrs. Henderson Presents, all of which garnered her Oscar nominations.

On selecting roles
All my life I have tried hard to avoid being typecast or pigeonholed, and whenever anyone says, "Oh, you shouldn't play that part," it only makes me much more determined to try.  ...other friends were nervous about my doing musicals, or against moving into television sitcoms.  At the same time, whenever I have had a particular success in one role, especially in films, I am immediately offered several more exactly like the last one.  After Mrs. Brown and Shakespeare in Love I turned down several other queens in rapid succession!

From the editor's Introduction
In Judi's own account of her life and career which follows, she characteristically makes light of her success, but it would be a great mistake to think that she is more concerned with the jokes than the quality of the work.  The one makes the other possible, and I know from watching her at work on-set and stage how essential it is to her that she can laugh in rehearsal.  It is that release of humour which enables her to give such searingly intense performances as Lady Macbeth, Queen Victoria or Iris Murdoch, to name but three.

The pictures she has chosen for this book capture her many moods, at home and work, and encapsulate what it is about her character that has gained her such a multitude of fans, of all ages and all walks of life, and now in so many countries of the world.

Scenes from My Life definitely falls into the coffee table book category, especially so because there is a definite feeling of having Dame Judi sitting beside you on the sofa exclaiming, "Oh, I remember when this picture was taken!"  I am eagerly looking forward to her autobiography, And Futhermore, which is scheduled to be released later this year.

Rating:  4/5 (Non-fiction scale)

1 comment:

Nan said...

I hope my library offers this, and the coming autobiography. A much beloved woman, that's for sure.