Robin Williams was an actor who selected his film roles very carefully. Despite his ironclad station as the greatest American comedian of his time, Williams appeared in dramas nearly as much as he appeared in comedies. One need only look to the shy Dr. Sayer of AWAKENINGS or to the chilling villains of ONE HOUR PHOTO or INSOMNIA to see the acting mastery Williams commanded.
Tag: Robin Williams
Most Robin Williams movies are exactly that – they’re movies about Robin Williams, built around an explication of his outsized public persona. POPEYE, by the great Robert Altman, is a bit of an outlier in this regard. Williams plays the titular sailor with eccentric aplomb, but he rarely serves as the sole focus of his own movie’s frames. That’s thanks to the aforementioned auteur. For Altman, each actor was but a color he could smear onto his images; and though he seldom obtained a splash of paint as vibrant as Robin Williams, he never allows the performer to overwhelm the film itself. There’s only one author of this film, and his vision is overwhelmingly clear.
By Peg Aloi
The Fisher King -1991 – dir. Terry Gilliam
Filmmaker Terry Gilliam’s version of the Fisher King legend posits a Manhattan where knights joust in Central Park, a thousand strangers waltz in Grand Central Station, and courtly love lives alongside dementia, decay and death. The ancient tale has been analyzed by scholars like Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Jessie Weston and Robert Graves, and is a central aspect of the Arthurian legend. The wounded king is Jack (Jeff Bridges), a popular radio talk-show host whose brash, arrogant misanthropy leads indirectly to a mass shooting that claims a number of victims; his ensuing guilt and shattered reputation leave him unemployed and depressed, riddled with guilt and self-loathing. In a scene slyly reminiscent of It’s a Wonderful Life, Jack meets a sort of guardian angel in Perry (Robin Williams, in one of his most enjoyable and eminently watchable screen portrayals). Perry is a former professor of medieval studies, who was personally affected by the shooting and who ends up homeless and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. When the two men cross paths several times, it seems inevitable they will both bring about the other’s rejuvenation, and the roles of wounded king and questing knight are often reversed and overlapped: which of these men is more wounded, and which one is most capable of selfless compassion?