Wide Range. Cultural Focus. Editor Patrick Neithard
by Patrick Neithard
Hollywood actor and comedian Robin Williams dies age 63
The 1951 born Actor was known as a talented, genius-like personality going by his fluid changeability jumping from Shakespearesque to Film Noir within seconds. He died August 11th, says the Hollywood Reporter quoting the Police in Malin County, at a young age of 63 leaving behind his third spouse Susan Schneider along with three children. It has now been confirmed that he suffered from severe clinical depression, yet it is utterly sad that this led to the now confirmed suicide.
Mr Williams`career lifted off with his role in the 1982’s John Irving adaptation “The World according to Garp” as the son of a feminist woman ( Glenn Close). As a nurse in a hospice during WWII she encounters brain damaged Technical Sergeant Garp whom she uses to impregnate herself. She then names the child after his biological father, T.S. Garp (Robin Williams), raises the child alone and discovers and studies his promiscuous gender-bound male behavior.
The widely acclaimed success was followed by numerous appearances peaking again first when he embodied Vladmir Ivanov in “Moscow on the Hudson” in 1984. Heartfelt, the ability to act in a tragicomedy and unravel, unfold earned Robin Williams a Golden Globe Nomination for best actor in a time when there was still a wall, still an iron curtain and the russian soul a myth, possibly unveiled by Mr Williams’ interpretation of a russian immigrant. But not the kind of performance where only fleeing was allowed in movies. Much more a shy critique on both systems there – and there. Yet the massive breakthrough followed when performing in the political 1987 war veteran movie “Good Morning Vietnam” as Adrian Cronauer. He was again honoured with several nominations on both sides of the Atlantic, such as the Golden Globe Award and the british BAFTA Award as best actor in a leading role. These came along with the American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Leading Role which was more than well earned. Adrian Cronauer himself co-wrote the original story of “Good morning Vietnam” based on his experiences as a Saigon – based DJ where he served from 1965 to 1966 on the Armed Forces Radio Services. Most of Mr Williams` radio broadcasts were improvised on set, while the Soundtrack used to concoct the radio show contained over 30 Songs along with Louis Armstrongs “What A Wonderful World” of the 12 final tracks being issued on vinyl. It was a huge success for a movie being based on music and radio in the field of politics and warfare, and it happened during a period in which MTV and its cultural impact on generations was just about to hit off.
Oh Captain, my Captain!
With less hilarious over-the edge personifications, however astonishinlgy solid and reflective roles Mr Robin Williams should baffle Hollywood for example as John Keating in “Dead Poets Society” 1989. The Drama depicts a conservative, male-only, aristocratic Welton Academy in 1959 where Keating begins teaching poetry. Once introduced briefly by name, he has one of his students read the introduction to the mandatories of poetry, a big black book so to speak, suggesting the analysis of poetry by sole mathematical measures. He then, probably still introducing himself, asks the scholars to tear out these pages, asking the class to follow him by analysing poems more accurately by emotional and illogical means. Based on a Walt Whitman poem, he suggests students to call him “O Captain, my Captain” as if guiding a ship through an adventure at sea. Later when the amazed students find out that this John Keating himself had been a former student at Welton, they decide to revive the Dead Poets Society Club once founded by precedessors such as Keaton himself. Tragically, one of the scholars` thus awakened passion for acting collides with his fathers preexisting career plans. Star-crossed and foolishly consumed by a high-pitched, broken romance, his first love, in addition. the young adolescent shivers in vain, and sees no future. He commits suicide. Keating gets expelled.
The versatile man
The latter Robin Williams has been seen in various versatile settings. He shone softly in a double role as “Mrs Doubtfire” (1993) appearing both as a divorced father seeking closeness to his children and does so as the very same wainscoted as their Nanny. 1996 he played the gay Cabaret owner Armand Goldman in “Birdcage” where, after a gentle portrait of gay coexistence in a heterosexual, partly homophobic world, his son marries the daughter of an ultra-moralist Politician. Again, switching roles within one single movie was a prerequisite in order to perform an outed gay persona ‘going back into the closet’ – to save his son’s luck. However Mr Williams was not only a man for main roles, he is well remembered as supporting actor in the role of Sean Maguire in “Good Will Hunting” along with newcomer Matt Damon 1997, which should finally win Mr Williams an Academy Award.
Mr Williams appeared in several supporting roles until 2002, when he again should excel as the main figure in the into-deep character portrait “One Hour Photo”, playing a secretive, peeping, obsessively stalking Seymour “Sy” Parrish, some long forgotten One Hour Photo lab employee. Developing photos for the neighborhood at the mall, Sy`s lonely existence is often rooting in phantasies based upon stolen duplicates of picture souvenirs. Yet his passion to concoct participation on society AKA dull reality with an immanent passionate imagination based on stolen footage hamstrings Sy (along with his hyperdimensional ability to love, one must say) and consequently steers him dramatically and way too close into one real family and, of course, into shipwreck.
A soothing fact might add to Mr Williams’ legacy to live on. There are still four movies of him to come, of which fortunately none is unfinished.