Saturday, August 16, 2014

Thoughts on What Dreams May Come and Mr. Robin Mclauren Williams...


When the news of Mr. Williams broke I didn’t really know what to think. When it was mentioned that he had apparently taken his own life, this was the movie that came to mind.

He wasn’t really known for this movie. It didn’t do very well when it came out. The critics were split down the middle. His fans were split down the middle too. This wasn’t a typical Robin Williams movie. Not even when compared to his other dramatic roles. This was different. The light hearted moments are few and far between. There are no laugh out loud moments, not even one to make you giggle or snicker. At most you’ll probably manage a smile.

Which makes this movie of his stand out. You’d expect of course that after a death of someone of his talent that his fans would flock to watch his works again. And they did. But this movie was the one that his fans went for. More so than his other works that he’s famous for. Yahoo has an article about how this movie was searched for and bought more times than Mrs, Doubtfire, Hook and even Dead Poets Society. It was for a moment the 45th most-downloaded movie on iTunes, and the 40th top-selling movie on Amazon, ahead of even Aladdin. Out of more than the 50 movies he’s done, this was what his fans decided to look for.

Makes you wonder why doesn’t it? That instead of wanting to watch movies where he made you laugh or inspire you and moved them they chose instead, this one. As did i.

So let’s see what i have to say about this visual gem from 1998 which stars Mr. Robin Williams.

But first the usual stuff.

From IMDB :


Chris Neilson dies to find himself in a heaven more amazing than he could have ever dreamed of. There is one thing missing: his wife. After he dies, his wife, Annie killed herself and went to hell. Chris decides to risk eternity in hades for the small chance that he will be able to bring her back to heaven. - Ratings: 7.0/10 from 70,139 users.

So you get the gist, right? Mr. Williams plays a husband who at first loses his two children to an accident and then soon after he too passes on due to an accident. In between his death and his children’s he attempts to bring some semblance of a normal life when his wife is so stricken with their children’s death she drops deep into depression.

Upon his death he lingers awhile and is guided through this period by a phantom, a spirit. He lingers because he has still to accept that he is dead. He is still attached to his soul mate. But his lingering and his attempts at comforting her just push her more into her depression. She’s lost her children and now her soulmate.

When he does let go we are taken to a different reality. I guess you can call it paradise or even heaven. But it’s a paradise of his making, his imagination. And he imagines it as a painting. This movie is visually beautiful from the start. Shot largely using FUJI’s Velvia film which is preferred by landscape photographers, the colours are vivid and that makes for breathtaking views both when outdoors or on set. But this imagined paradise that he has is a visual treat all on its own. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since actually.

The story thus takes you from his understanding and tour of paradise and of his own acceptance of his past with his wife and children. Of what he’s said and done. And with each new destination he meets a new guide who as he talks with them discovers something about himself and his relationship with his loved ones. He discovers for example that an asian woman is his daughter, who takes on the appearance because of his comment to her of how beautiful, elegant and smart asian women are. Things we say in passing sometimes linger and have more effect than ones we actually give thought to.

Not much later though he is given the horrible news that his wife has taken her own life. And that by the rules of this heaven those that take their own life are never allowed passage to heaven. And this sets him on a journey to find her and somehow save her.

So we are taken through heaven and then through towards hell. Each place we are taken to, that he has to travel through is beautifully done. Each is visually spectacular, like something out of a book. Which it is since the movie is based off the novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. But what is done in this movie is not the same as what is written by Mr. Matheson. This seems to come from someone with a far more vivid and literary dream. It is in short, beautiful. Even his journey through purgatory is amazing.

When he does find her, she is in what seems to be a decaying remnant of their old home. And she is lost in her own grief and sadness. She doesn’t even recognize him. And even before he steps into what seems to be his old home he is warned not to be taken in by her grief or he may find himself lost in it, never to escape. But he takes that risk. And when he is unable to sway her away from her grief he instead chooses to stay with her, to join her.

But instead of joining her they both find themselves back in paradise. To be joined by their children and even their dog. After their reunion they talk of trying again, giving life another chance. Another chance to find themselves and fall in love again. So before the credit rolls you see a small boy playing with his sail boat when suddenly it bumps into another and sinks. The other sailboat belonging to a little girl.

This was not the original ending that the director intended. There is an alternate ending. One that Mr. Williams. I leave that for you to discover.

So that’s the movie. Probably Mr. William’s most dramatic and darkest movie. And we almost lost this movie when the original prints of the film were lost in a fire at Universal Studios' backlot on June 1, 2008. A worldwide search was launched for a copy and one was found in Europe. We lucked out.

People have speculated why he took on this movie. Maybe it was a challenge for him to do it. Maybe he was exploring his skills as an actor, a thespian. Or maybe it spoke to him on another more personal level. We’ll never know.

Honestly, for all intents and purposes, maybe we never really knew him. We knew Mr. Williams as an actor and a comedian, not as a person or a human being. We saw what he wanted us to see. Who he really was was just for those he could sit in a quiet room with.

Numerous articles report that he has always suffered from depression and anxiety but it never sinks in with us. Because we saw him as that exploding ball of frenetic comedic energy all the time. Those instances where he took on dramatic roles were just him flexing his acting muscles. So most of us his fans never took it seriously. Reading all the comments from other actors who have worked with him and those who had the privilege to meet him, it would seem he was the perfect human being. He made an effort to make the people around him comfortable, happy and laughing.

Maybe that’s what he wanted us see and believe. Maybe he didn’t want us to suffer along with him? Maybe. We’ll never know. And in this was his true skill as an actor and comedian. He never let on that he was suffering from depression. Most who suffer from depression aren’t that strong. But worse still most of us who don’t suffer from it never take it seriously. We brush it off.

Buck up, son and get over it! Life isn’t that bad, it’ll get better you’ll see.

Apparently it didn’t for Mr. Williams.

So now i’m hoping that wherever he is he is in a paradise of his own making. Where he doesn’t have to be acting for anyone’s benefit. Where he doesn’t have to be the comedian to make anyone laugh. Where he can sit back and shoot the breeze. Be himself completely.

I’m thinking it’ll be a cool and amazing place.

So thank you Mr. Williams for being who you are for us, us fans who only knew you through your amazing work. For making us laugh and think. For moving us with your work on and off screen. What you’ve done off screen is only now slowly coming to light.

You’ve made us laugh while inside you we never really knew what was happening, what was going on.

Thank you sir! You will be missed. But we will always have your jokes and your smile. From a fan.


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