Well-Deserved Honor
03/04/2013 - 12:20
Steve Lipman
Anne Hathaway: big honor, small role. Photo via Biography.com
Anne Hathaway: big honor, small role. Photo via Biography.com

At last week’s Academy Awards ceremony, one of the favorites was Anne Hathaway.

As predicted, she won the Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.

Hathaway, a beauty who had built a solid A-list Hollywood resume for starring a in a series of light comedies and two Princess Diaries films, took home the statue last week for her portrayal of Fantine, the ill-fated single mother in Les Miserables, a 2012 musical hit based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel about the early 19th-Century student uprising in France; Les Mis earlier was a hit Broadway play and worldwide cultural phenomenon.

Hathaway certainly deserved the honor bestowed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. She nailed the role of the indigent woman who was forced into prostitution; Hathaway had her actual hair shorn for the role, part of the character’s degradation that had her sell her locks before she sold her body; Hathaway’s lachrymose rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” set the standard by which all future versions of the song will be judged.

She was truly a star of the film.

In very limited time.

Hardly noticed was the fact that Hathaway appeared on screen for only 18 minutes – early on, when her character was introduced and then died; and later, at the end of the production – in a film that exceeded two and a half hours.

She defined and dominated the film in limited screen time.

So strong was her performance.

Hathaway won on quality, not quantity.

She earned her reward.

Which is a lesson that Judaism teaches.

Throughout Jewish literature, particularly the Talmud and more-recent compilations of inspirational stories, are tales of men and women who accomplished much, who garnered praise or earned their eternal reward, for greats deeds done in small time. Either these people died young, or their great acts were committed quickly.

All these acts serve as inspiration. As did Hathaway’s performance.

steve@jewishweek.org

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