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A Tortured Soul: The Films of Heath Ledger

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Last week Heath Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment. At 28, he had created a career based on risky roles and shunned the heartthrob characters he could have played. In his last film, The Dark Knight, a sequel to Batman Begins, Ledger plays the deranged villain, The Joker. It is due out in July of this year. Below are the best films available on DVD of his short, but notable career.

Candy

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Ledger and Abby Cornish are stellar in this bleak tale about two artistic souls tumbling down the road of self-destruction from heroin use. Tragic and sad, these characters are the poster children for staying far away from recreational drug use.

Brokeback Mountain

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There's no discussing Ledger without mentioning Brokeback Mountain. By far his most challenging role was his heartbreaking performance of Ennis Del Mar, the sexually conflicted cowboy never able to allow himself the freedom to be happy. Accolades were mounded on Ledger as well as the rest of the cast and the film as a whole. This is where Ledger met Michelle Williams, who later became his romantic partner and the mother of his child. Ledger had recently separated from Williams.

 


The Patriot

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This role pricked up the ears of "serious" directors as it showcased the fact that Ledger could act. The son of a colonist fighting the Red Coats in the Revolutionary war, Ledger has a strong role even if the movie is Hollywood epic mush.

Monster's Ball

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A small but definitive part as the ill-fated son of a bigoted prison guard, Ledger shows his stripes in this intense film by Marc Forster. Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Barry star as an unlikely couple that are thrown together by tragedies that somehow draw a trajectory toward one another. Ledger jumped at the chance to work with Billy Bob Thornton.

The Four Feathers

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For some, this is Ledger's finest work. Visually brilliant, this period piece stars Ledger as a disgraced British Empire lieutenant during the heyday of colonialism. War, honor, loyalty and redemption play heavy in this tepid epic.

10 Things I Hate About You

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This entry into the teen genre based on Shakespeare's Taming of the Shrew stars Julia Stiles as Kat (the Kate character), the rebellious social pariah who must date before her pretty popular sister can. Ledger is the bad boy, Patrick (the Petruchio character) who must win over the stubborn shrew. This is the role that catapulted Ledger into many young women's heart as well as every studios heartthrob A list.

Two Hands

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A tense little Aussie crime drama starring Ledger as Jimmy, a strip club door man looking to move up in the crime world. This was the beginning of Ledger's career before he tackled Hollywood. Also starring Rose Byrne and directed by Gregor Jordan.

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