Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams, RIP

The Oscar-winning actor and stand-up comedian Robin Williams, whose range extended from manic mimicry to understated character portrayals, was found dead in his California home on Monday [11 Aug 2014]. In a statement, the local sheriff’s office said that it was treating the death of the 63-year-old star as a suspected suicide.

The White House released a statement by Barack Obama, who said: “Robin Williams was an airman, a doctor, a genie, a nanny, a president, a professor, a bangarang Peter Pan, and everything in between. But he was one of a kind. He arrived in our lives as an alien – but he ended up touching every element of the human spirit.”

Obviously his huge talent will be missed - but his talent lives forever on in the films hinted at above (presumably Good morning Vietnam, Patch Adams, Aladdin, Mrs Doubtfire, Man of the year, Good Will Hunting - or maybe Flubber, Hook), all of which (save Mrs Doubtfire) I have in my collection. Unfortunately, most of them are from quite some time ago.

Not being American, I never saw any of his appearances as Mork; I first became aware of him when he was seriously miscast in 'The world according to Garp' but he really only made his mark (and how!) in 'Good morning, Vietnam', 1987. I have a memory of seeing this in a cinema in Rehovot, with the audience rolling on the floor and crying from laughter. Repeated viewings have awarded this film a mixed reputation: Williams as the DJ is excellent but the Vietnam parts are naive.

He cemented his comic reputation with all the films up to  'Aladdin', but I also liked very much some of his dramatic roles - 'Man of the year' comes strongly to mind. Thinking about it now, there is quite a similarity between this film and 'Good morning' - in both, he starts out as a comic but is forced to take part in a very sombre reality. Is it simply coincidence that both films were directed by Barry Levinson? The latter film is the lesser known but probably the better of the two.

No doubt we will shortly have a Robin Williams retrospective on our satellite TV channels, which will give me the opportunity of plugging some holes in his extensive filmography - IMDb lists 102 credits of an actor of which I have about 18.

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