Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Messiah Revisited

In 2001 and 2002, BBC Northern Ireland released the first two installments of a drama miniseries, entitled "Messiah - The First Killings" and "Messiah - Vengeance Is Mine". Alongside Michelle Forbes (Susan Metcalfe), Ken Stott (DCI Red Metcalfe), Neil Dudgeon (DI Duncan Warren) and Frances Grey (DS Kate Beauchamp) lead the ensemble of talents in this brilliantly produced TV crime drama. The third episode, "Messiah - The Promise", was aired in 2004.
Unfortunately, Michelle Forbes does not appear in the fourth chapter of the series, "Messiah - The Harrowing".

For in-depth information, interviews and behind-the-scenes videos visit the BBC Northern Ireland website:

»» Messiah II

»» Messiah III

Viewers of BBC crime dramas know that what they see is what they get. No fast paced action sequences followed by visual murder scenes. Instead, with the "Messiah" miniseries, we get a haunting drama in the style of box office hits such as "Silence of the Lambs" and "Se7en".
The story begins with a rather dreary scene of a car driving through London in the pouring rain. The initial sense of uneasiness sets the mood for the rest of the series which may not be entirely for the weak hearted. We watch DCI Red Metcalfe struggle with a case of mysterious and grisly killings. And as the body count rises, Metcalfe must face a ruthless killer who always seems to be a step ahead. Soon enough, Red's work begins to threaten the safety of those around him, especially his loving wife Susan. Seemingly disadvantaged, in her deaf condition, Susan may prove to be the pillar of strength for her husband, as she tries to keep him out of the darkness that the gruesome killings are continually driving him into. Not only that, but Red is also desperate to reunite with his estranged brother which will bring back old memories that he thought to have been able to forget.
Will Red overcome the many obstacles and catch the murderer?

The experience of shooting "Messiah" proved to be very different from what Michelle Forbes was used to in the USA:

"American Actress Michelle Forbes looks on her time working on MESSIAH 2 - VENGEANCE IS MINE as a welcome change from life in the States - where she says there is so much violence. [...] "Back in the States, we concentrate so much on violence and with some of the parts I've played; I'm always knee deep in dead bodies - another day at work!"

Michelle on learning British sign language:

"It makes you realise just how much you rely on the voice and how much you rely on hearing another person's voice in order to get you somewhere. [...] Communicating without speaking - for two people who are hearing - means that you have to go to a completely different place. But to be able to walk into the deaf world is such an opportunity and I feel grateful for it every day and completely honoured. [...] On MESSIAH I, I have had five days to learn sign language and I didn't know that British sign language is completely different from American sign language, so it was an intensive five days."
Source: bbc.co.uk

The acting is superb and the storyline will take your breath away while keeping you in your seats until the very last minute. It is rare in today's TV landscape to find a mini-series which puts its emphasis on the relationship of its characters and not on lavish violence.
Most importantly, as I am probably the laziest person on this planet, I admire and worship the tenacity of Michelle Forbes for learning British sign language in under a week's time and acting with her 'hands and feet' only. Watch out for those kitchen scenes in parts I and II between Stoot and Forbes. Who needs dialogue?

And as one viewer commented:
"To sum up, this was an electrifying piece of ground-breaking drama, every moment communicating mesmerising details about this complex plot and it's highly believable characters."
Source: imdb.com

To see Michelle at her sign-language acting brilliance, watch scenes from 'Messiah - Vengeance is mine':

Messiah 1-4 is available on DVD sets at amazon.co.uk (Region 2, PAL version). Regularly re-airs on many European TV channels, free-to-air and ad-free.

Article written and submitted by Nicole. Thank you :)

We're looking forward to publish more articles about Michelle's work. Please contact us at mirandazero.blog@gmail.com
We'd love to hear from you! --chris

"One of the BBC's prestige shows, Messiah perfectly balances the quiet character moments it needs with scenes of pure Grand Guignol horror and jet black humour [..] Stott as DCI Metcalfe is a unique hero for this kind of story, a man who is calm, rational, well balanced and happily married. He's relentlessly intelligent and punishes himself constantly for not quite being clever enough. The way in which he and his wife (a superb performance by Michelle Forbes) deal with this is contrasted to great effect with the break up of Reid's relationship with his wife and Beauchamp's budding romance with a colleague."
Source: videovista.net

" 'Messiah', which is based on a novel by Boris Starling, is an exemplar of efficiency, a demonstration of just how much story can be put across using layered sound, scrupulous close-ups, broad atmospherics, visual shorthand, a few flashbacks and simple dialogue [...] most striking here are the performances: the pale British faces of all the lead actors, who, with their baggy undereyes untouched by surgery or Botox, look plainly sad and afraid. Those faces tell a story, swiftly."
Source: nytimes.com

"Ein Thriller, der nicht einfach die inzwischen gängige Serienkiller-Routine abspult, sondern seine Handlung mit intelligent konstruierten Nebenhandlungen und lebendig gezeichneten Figuren so gut unterfüttert, dass sich die Geschichte neben dem reinen Krimiplot noch weitergehenden Fragen zuwenden kann: Schuld und Sühne, Verdrängung, Reue und der oft qualvollen Konfrontation mit sich selbst. Nicht umsonst wurde "Messias" in Kommentaren häufig mit David Finchers Genre-Highlight "Seven" verglichen."
Source: zdf.de