Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2008

Young Ian McKellen

By David Luhrssen
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Ian McKellen, one of cinema's grand old men, was once young. This obvious observation was brought home by the DVD release of “Country Matters,” a 1972 British television series starring McKellen as an Edwardian art instructor in an idyllic rural setting.

McKellen's character is admittedly a mediocre painter but is an artist at romance. Avid for his female students, he lays a discrete hand on their shoulders during lessons and kisses them madly in the studio after class or in the seculsion of nearby wooded glens. The production values seem quaint, like elaborately furnished stage sets; the editing is sometimes clumsy but the acting is first rate throughout. McKellen was a very young man when “Country Matters” was made but was already an accomplished thespian, even if age had not begun to lend gravity to his form.

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