There is no denying the genius of Robin Williams. Whether it be his dirty stand-up, his rambunctious energy, or his world-renowned heart, he has an immensely impressive assortment of movies that have imprinted many generations. 70s kids might remember him from his big break on Mork and Mindy, 80s kids will remember Hook, Aladdin, and Mrs. Doubtfire, 90s kids have Jumanji, and Flubber, and the 2000s offsprings heard him in Robots and Happy Feet. He is a transcendent figure, who was filled with tragic pain, and ultimately a heart shattering death, yet his work lives on. Some of his films provide face-contorting laughter, and others tear-soaked pillow cases. This article will discuss three films in the latter category.
1. When Dreams May Come
This is one of Robin Williams' less seen films, but still one of his most poignant ones. The premise is that after he dies from a car crash, the same way his kids passed, he ascends to heaven leaving his wife as a widow. Overcome with grief, his wife who has lost literally everything she has loved, commits suicide, which causes her soul to go to hell because her life was not hers to end, it's Gods. Robin Williams' character, Chris Nielsen, has none of this and goes to the depths of hell to pull her out. He will not accept an afterlife without her. Chris questions the whole system, asking why every suicide is considered the same and why isn't there understanding for that person's pain. It's a tough ride. There's so much emotion, so much heartbreak in the characters and story. If Chris Nielsen's rejection and voyage to save his wife from hell wasn't enough to break out the tissues, his speech to save her will:
"Thank you for every kindness. Thank you for our children. For the first time I saw them. Thank you for being someone I was always proud to be with. For your guts, for your sweetness. For how you always looked, for how I always wanted to touch you. God, you were my life. I apologize for every time I ever failed you. Especially this one..."
It's a momentous expression of true love. It's a person risking salvation just to be with his soulmate, and if you look at Robin Williams' track record of depression and films with a similar theme, it's awfully enlightening in regards to Robin Williams' own pain and perspective on suicide.
2. Dead Poets Society
Many know this film, especially how "Oh Captain, My Captain" became a symbol and moniker after his death. All the late night shows pay homage, with Jimmy Fallon standing on his desk like the final scene. This movie has two points of emphasis for when a shower of water may erupt out of your eye-sockets: when one of the students commits suicide, and when John Keating gets a standing desk ovation after essentially being blamed for it. The reason these moments are so impactful is because of the boys' growth and how Robin Williams' character, Keating, is pushing them to go for their dreams and express themselves. Each personality is strong and complex, which makes this movie's resolution completely and utterly overwhelming.
3. Good Will Hunting
These last two may be obvious choices, but there is no way around how important and emotional they are. Good Will Hunting is essentially about damaged people with unfulfilled potential. Matt Damon and Ben Affleck may have made their mark with this film, But Robin Williams cemented his legacy with one of the best performances ever. His dialogue as Sean Maguire to Will Hunting breaks down preconceived notions of the characters and shows their inner souls. It's a masterpiece of humanity, pain, and how individuals deal with their respective pain.
These movies show Robin Williams' dynamic stance on pain, and trust me his career is filled with so many more films that also explore depression, suicide, and mental illness. He expressed his soul through art and comedy. His passing certainly adds emphasis to these moments, at least for me.