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Robin Williams: Thanks for the laughter

I’m a child of the nineties so, like many, the tragic death of Robin Williams came as a shock and, truly upset me.

His loss has been felt deeply around the world by friends, fans and colleagues. In a year that has seen the passing of so many talented individuals, Robin Williams stands out among them as the one talent whose presence changed the lives of men, women and children the world over. As a child of the nineties I grew up in the depths of Disney’s golden age, till this day I can count a number of Disney titles among my favourite films. Some of the earliest films I remember watching – before the concept of loving an actor became known to me – were films to which he so graciously lent his unfathomable talents.

I adored the Genie in Aladdin from the second I watched it, I honestly thing if anyone other that Williams had provided the voice Aladdin would have been rather lack luster. I’ve even seen Aladdin: Jafar’s Return – which didn’t feature William’s as the genie, but Homer Simpson voice actor, Dan Castellanera – and I wasn’t impressed. Williams brought the flawless comic timing and flamboyant voice talent to the character that made people fall in love with him. He brought that unique, indescribable quality to everything he did. Mork and Mindy may have been where he started – I’ve only ever seen a few episodes – but for me his later roles are in films that define my childhood. Of course everyone has seen Mrs. Doubtfire, if you haven’t at this stage you’ve been missing out on of the most timeless comedies ever produced. I can watch it over and over and still laugh. When it was released I was too young for its certification so, I had to wait until a friend got it on tape and, sleeping over in hers we sat together and watched it after her parents had gone to bed. Our roaring laughter woke them up. To this day I can’t listen to Aerosmith without thinking of Robin Williams.

Another film that I often forget I love is Hook. Peter Pan has grown up and has his own kids and, has rather forgotten who he is. It’s a brilliant story of reclaiming your youth for the sake of your kids and embracing your past. Starring Dustin Hoffman, Maggie Smith, Gwenyth Paltrow and, the late Bob Hoskins the on screen talent in phenomenal but Williams outshines them all. Jumangi was another childhood favourite that I still love watching, I never get tired of Williams’ performance or the story.

Another film, which I fell in love with quite late in my life is a Kenneth Branagh piece called Dead Again, not everyone’s cup of tea it stars Williams in a bit part but, he is still fabulous. Acting against British greats like Branagh, Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia and Derek Jacobi he holds his own as a shamed psychiatrist. It saddens me that it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I sat down to watch Dead Poet’s society. I was unnerved by how serious he was but brilliant nonetheless. It was a film that earned it’s cult game and Williams’ performance as the inspirationally different English teacher is heart-warming and beautiful. Although I adore his comedic roles I’ve found a true respect and adoration for Williams’ after watching some of his more serious performances. I’m saddened that in the wake of his loss I am only now aware of how few of his films I have seen, seeking out Patch Adams and Good Will Hunting now I have realised that I’ve missed out on his finer performances while he was still alive.

His death also struck me because I suffer from depression, as does my immediate family. In my teen days suicide had crossed my mind, I ever wrote a suicide note or two but I could never work up the courage to do anything about it. A friend of mine in those days hung himself and, I watched as his death devastated my group of friends. We were so young then and everything seemed so beyond our control. I’m relieved I never went through with it because having seen the damage it does to those left behind and knowing that I would have missed out on so much between then and now I can’t imagine how I let myself get so low I would have ever contemplated it.

William’s made no secret of his addictions and battles with depression and it saddens me that he had over come so much, made so many people happy and influenced so many peoples lives that he found himself so low that a permanent solution to a temporary problem was needed. I know he will be missed and his death will be headline news for a few weeks but his memory and, what he meant to me will remain. Every time I watch one of his films I will fondly recall the man behind the characters I love, I will smile as I remember that feeling of watching him perform for the first time and, I will say a prayer that this troubled genius who has no equal has at last found peace.

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