Great DVD Commentaries: Brian Blessed on ‘Flash Gordon’

A moment of appreciation for a British monument whose unconventional style seeps through into his DVD commentaries...


Fairly recently here at DoG we ran a few communal features, including The Movies That Cheer Up Den Of Geek. One that I wanted to include there but felt that it was outside the remit, was the Brian Blessed commentary on the Silver Anniversary edition of Flash Gordon (1980).

You’ll learn a lot more about the making of the film from the main commentary by director Mike Hodges, which in itself is fascinating. But it must be confessed, you’ll have a hell of a lot more fun with Brian. The actor’s indefatiguably sunny and optimistic disposition rides roughshod over any conventions of DVD commentary, and if you’re hoping to hear Blessed repeat his immortal catchphrase from the film – “Gordon’s alive!’ – you are just so in luck, because he says it about twenty times, and closes the commentary with it as well.

But the real appeal of this commentary track is Blessed’s trademark spontaneity – a thought comes into his head and instantly barges past whatever few filters his mind has, and before you know it, he’s said it out loud. Excellent.

Everything is ‘wonderful’ in Blessed-land. Or fantastic. Or superb. Or marvellous. The man, superlative himself, lives in a superlative world and he cannot summon a bad – or a tepid – word for anyone. If he likes you, you’re great and if not…well, God help you. He’s Brian Blessed after all. He’ll climb up a mountain and then dive on you from a great height…

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One delightful reminiscence occurs in the commentary when Blessed recalls acting out the parts in Flash Gordon as a child with his mates after they had all gone to see the repeated RKO serials at the cinema on Saturday morning; the actor-to-be would always choose the role of Voltan, king of the hawkmen – which he was later to entirely make his own. His joy at getting such a lavish opportunity to live out his childhood fantasy in Hodges’ cult hit is patently still a source of pleasure for him, and he’s big enough in every sense to both weather and enjoy the type-casting that has people yelling ‘Diiive!’ at him all over the world.

There’s only one Brian Blessed. Could we handle two? He continues to demonstrate that we probably couldn’t, as evidenced by his tumultuous appearance as host on Have I Got News For You some weeks back.

To return to the point I started with, Mr. Blessed’s effulgent comments on the Silver Anniversary Flash Gordon DVD continue to be a reliable boost to me; if I should ever lose faith in human nature, it’s comforting to put the track on and know that in some remote corner of the world, this enormous and truly great man is squeezing some timid tourist half-to-death and ‘doing Voltan’ on request…

If you don’t have the commentary, there’s always YouTube for a reliable dose of Blessed madness…

Blessed on his lust for Flash Gordon co-star Melody Anderson…

Brian Blessed has trouble with a palm-pilot on a TV show (language is NSFW)

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Find the Silver Anniversary edition with the Brian Blessed commentary here.

The Brian Blessed Ready ReckonerBrian Blessed on Have I Got News For You