Monday, April 16, 2007

Mr. Bean is Really Popular

How did Mr. Bean become Britain's unofficial ambassador?

The lastest Bean film, Mr Bean's Holiday, is a global smash hit, No 1 in 21 countries and top of the international box office. And if you ask a non-Brit to describe Mr Bean, these are the words they deliver back: hapless, awkward, self-conscious, childlike, disaster-prone ... and British. Resplendent in geeky tweed, the Mini-driving Mr Bean increasingly seems to be a symbol of Britishness around the globe.

One of the many ironies in this story is that Atkinson says his quintessentiallyBritish creation was in part inspired by a French comic character, Monsieur Hulot, invented by French actor, director, writer and producer Jacques Tati, who released a series of films, including Monsieur Hulot's Holiday. Mainly, however, Bean was the result of decades of the comic studying himself.

That's an excerpt from a really interesting article in The Guardian probing the multi-cultural impact of Mr. Bean. The Tati influence is striking, when you think about it, but I think Rowan Atkinson takes the whole uncomfortable thing beyond the realm of idiocy. But what is most interesting is the impact Mr. Bean has had worldwide, particularly in the middle east.

The character has been popular across the Middle East, from Israel to Iraq, for years. The new film is currently the No 1 box-office attraction in Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. There have been more than 14m Mr Bean videos sold worldwide; many have been sold in Tehran's shops and stalls.

Rowan Atkinson's lack of fine motor skills once again proves that brain-damage-adventure is still Britain's funniest genre. - I Watch Stuff

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