Robin Williams

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams is dead. If the ‘50s and ‘60s had Bob Hope and Jerry Lewis, the ‘90s-’00s had Jim Carrey, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller and the ‘00s have Jonah Hill and Seth Rogen with their trashy comedies, Robin Williams was the Comedy King of the ‘80s-’90s. Of course, there were Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy, but Williams was special.

He was an alien in “Mork and Mindy,” a genie in “Alladin,” a Scottish nanny in “Mrs Doubtfire,” a therapist in “Good Will Hunting” and Dr. Hunter Adams in “Patch Adams.” While most relate Williams with comedies, he was beyond that, and he tackled some screen characters that required more than humor, and for me those made him one of Hollywood’s serious actors who gave their best.

I know Williams as the cutter W. Hakman in “The Final Cut”; as android Andrew in “Bicentennial Man”; as lawyer Henry Altmann in “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn” and as physician Chris Nielsen in “What Dreams May Come.”


In the science fiction “The Final Cut,” Hakman is a cutter whose work is to make into digitalized form memories of a deceased from a device implanted in the body. The “film” of the pleasant episodes is shown during the funeral of the person. Williams’s character is tormented by the secrets he learns as a result of his work, and is killed by people who seek memories he only knows.

In “Bicentennial Man,” he is a robot who longs to be a human because of a love for a woman. He attains humanoid form after decades of search, and finds the love of his life. Through research, he is able to grow old and die together with his wife, after having been declared by the World Congress as human.

The last film released before Williams’s death was “The Angriest Man in Brooklyn.” It is about Henry Altman, a grumpy lawyer who is told by a doctor (played by Mila Kunis) that he has brain aneurysm. To get back at him for his boorish attitude, the doctor tells Altman that he only has 90 minutes to live.

Altman actually lost zest in his life when one of his sons was killed in a hunting accident, and the other son did not join him in his law firm preferring to be a dance instructor. With the very short time, he failed to reconcile with his wife and son, and decides to commit suicide by jumping off Brooklyn Bridge, only to be rescued by the doctor. He is able to mend the broken relations as he lived for another eight days.

But I guess the most emotionally grueling film that Williams starred in was, “What Dreams May Come.” It is a tragic story of a couple who lived a happy life that turned sour when their two children died in a car crash. The wife suffered a mental breakdown, while Williams’s character Chris Nielsen was killed in a vehicular accident.

Nielsen’s soul lingers on earth, and later wakes up in Heaven. But when his wife commits suicide, he seeks for her in Hell where people that take their own life are punished. The ending though is unanticipated.

There is much to learn from the less popular films of Robin Williams where he tackled life’s sufferings and mortality. He gave us an unexpectedly sad ending of his life. Say a prayer for Robin Williams.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 16, 2014.


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