The Magnificent Andersons

No, this isn’t a sequel to Orson Welles’ butchered classic starring Joseph Cotten – it’s about the strange phenomenon of the surname ‘Anderson’ and how it’s produced some wonderful artists, actors and musicians.

Take the always fragrant and dazzling Gillian Anderson who showed her mettle, poise and authority in the BBC crime drama The Fall (pictured). This was a performance of subtletly and skill as she played a London detective diving into a hornet’s nest of politics, murder and intrigue in Belfast.

Generally her TV work (The X-Files, Bleak House, Hannibal etc..) has overshadowed the cinematic sweeteners but the criminally underrated The House of Mirth, where she plays Lily Bart, felt like the best performance of the lot. A scintillating actress.

Next it’s those three amigos in the film world: PT Anderson, Wes and, my personal favourite, Lindsay, who was once dumped by Wham to make a film in China (it went ahead with another director).

PT Anderson has a style of his own: a distinctive, semi-epic mosaic seen in the likes of Boogie Nights, Magnolia and There Will Be Blood and it’s this kind of singular vision that makes him stand out from the Hollywood crowd.

Wes Anderson too is a class apart, although some of his so-called best works like The Royal Tenenbaums left me a little cold. However, Moonrise Kingdom was a woozy, head-swirling treat and, again, he is a true original.

Which brings us nicely to Mr Original himself: Lindsay Anderson – the director of the blistering, scathing trilogy of If, O Lucky Man and Britannia Hospital. These films have a unique quality to them – a brutal social and satirical sensibility – that makes them stand apart in British cinema. Some people may find them messy and sprawling – they’re all those things – but they also humane and majestic. Anderson was crushed by the British response to Britannia Hospital (released in 1982) but he’s still one of this island’s true visionaries.

Another visionary, but this time in music, is Kenny Anderson, otherwise known as King Creosote. The Scottish singer blends lyrical depth with delicate melodies and his albums, including Diamond Mine and KC Rules OK, are wistful and utterly compelling.

So the spooky artistic prominence of the Anderson surname is alive and well. How about cheating and putting a trio of Scandanavian supremos like Benny Andersson (Abba), Hans Christian Andersen and Roy Andersson, director of the brilliant You The Living and other weird and wonderful pictures?

Or what about brilliant Suede frontman Brett Anderson, Thunderbirds supremo Gerry Anderson or acclaimed classical composer Julian Anderson? Or delving further into absurdity and enlisting two sportsmen like Jimmy Anderson and Viv Anderson (one will become England’s greatest wicket-taker barring injury and the other was England’s first black player to start an international for his country)? Is that going too far? Probably. And I haven’t touched on the celebrity juggernaut that is Pamela Anderson yet.

But the point, barring a stray Clive Anderson oddity, is that this surname offers some sort of artistic integrity in a spooky, X-Files sort of way.

Who knows they could be part of one, huge dysfunctional family?

Just like in Welles epic The Magnificent Ambersons.

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