My heart lurched as my brother told me Robin Williams was gone. His goofy yet warm smile, scrunched up eyes and gorilla-like arms flashed before my eyes. He was my favorite. All time favorite.
I grew up watching his movies. I grew up watching his magic. If ‘passion’ had a face, it would look like Robin Williams. He showed us humor. He showed us grief. He showed the world his happy feet, his happy hands and his happy eyes. Who knew he had the world’s grief bottled up inside?
A lot of celebrities and famous actors have passed away before him. In Pakistan, Hollywood and the world over. I have felt sorry for many of them. And I never thought I would write about an actor. The act altogether seemed irrelevant. Especially when so much is going on in the world. War. Chaos. Hate. But today I thought to write of nothing else but him. Irrelevant or not.
Patch Adams. I remember the first time I watched the movie. Based on a real life story and topped with Robin William’s larger than life acting, it was as right as sunshine on water. I cried when his girlfriend was killed. I cried when he entertained the sick children with his antics. I cried when he finally became a doctor. I concluded: No doctor should practice without watching this movie.
Then I wanted to become a teacher after watching the Dead Poet’s Society. I had goosebumps the size of small hills when he shook up his class like a tornado. His famous words as John Keating had me in a trance:
We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, ‘O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?’ Answer. That you are here – that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
Who wouldn’t have wanted to become a teacher after watching John Keating?
Jumanji. I watched it as a twelve-year-old when it first came out. And then the thirty year old me watched it again last year. I thought it beat today’s hi-tech graphics and visual arts by an unending space mile. As a child,I never looked at board games the same way. Always hoping my scrabble keys would pop open a secret doorway in my house. Or monopoly cards hinting at an ancient secret only I was meant to decipher.
Robin Williams was known as a comedian before anything else. But to me, he was a passionate man who could bring humor and poignancy in every role he did. Mrs. Doubtfire. She was the most womanly of women with poise and confidence. And just when you thought the finesse was unmatched, she pulled off the cooking scene where her fake breasts caught fire. I remember my stomach and lungs begging for mercy because I was laughing too hard. Mrs. Doubtfire and Jumanji are childhood treasures.
The Birdcage. Just thinking of the movie makes me suppress a laugh. His role as a gay father was so believable that you couldn’t imagine him playing a serious role like he did in Good Will Hunting. Sean, a psychology teacher who made me cry my heart out when he told Will (Matt Damon) about his dying wife and how he fell in love with her at first sight. Then his unforgettable talk with Will on the park bench; Knowing the importance of real life experiences over what you read on paper. No amount of bookish knowledge can equal a real tear, a piercing look or a warm embrace. To me it was the perfect movie.
What Dreams May Come. This was a movie not seen by many, but the emotion and life captured by Robin Williams was unmatched. Only he could have pulled off a role as a dead husband wanting to reunite with his wife in heaven after she commits suicide. He portrayed real, passionate, crazy love that made me believe it actually existed.
Flubber. If all scientists were like Prof. Phillips Brainard, this world would be a better place. Period.
Jack. A 10-year old boy in a 40- year old’s body – suffering from a rare aging disease. I think part of why I was such a crybaby as a child is because of Robin William’s movies. There are many more movies that come to mind. And I think I am going to start re-watching them. Like many fans around the globe will probably do. Sadly, Hollywood has lost its happy feet forever.
Robin Williams, in an ocean of actors, you were a blue whale. Your massive footprints will never be filled. May God have mercy on your soul. And if HE has second doubts, maybe your wit and humor can shake things a little up there:).