Thursday, August 14, 2014

Return to Never Never Land

Aug. 12, 2014

Robin Williams is dead.
After a month of depression and a life time of drug and alcohol abuse, he took his own life out at his California home.
The fact that he and I are the same age makes this a bigger tragedy for me since his life has many of the same markers as mine, out lives mapped out with the same historical and social events, and shaped by the same powerful forces even though we never met.
I had one brief brush of shoulder in 2005 when he came to the edge of Bayonne to film a move.
Sharon, younger than both of us by several years, however, had more significant contact with him since she attended Julliard with him and other prominent stars of that time including Kevin Kline and the Superman actor I later came close to meeting while I was a reporter.
But actors and musicians tended to live in separate circles even at that prestigious school, and her meetings with Williams and Kline tended to be one of regret rather than celebration since the comics stars tended to work out their routines on unsuspecting subjects – particularly musicians and dancers.
Williams' arrival on TV as part of the Mork & Mindy show was a milestone as significant against the bland backdrop of the 1970s as Star Wars was, although I was never as big a fan as my friends were.
I gravitated to his later movies such as The World According to Garp, Good Morning Vietnam, and Dead Poet’s Society. The Fisher King remains one of my all time favorite movies, and strangely seems to have foreshadowed his later life and his despair. He did not get the same hope out of it as I did, seeing that sometimes small victories mattered more than big ones.
I was less enchanted some of his other movies, including for a time, his Never Never Land remake, Hook, but grew to like the movie over time as it also served as a metaphor of our lives. He really was Peter Pan and in the last hours of his life had to face what we all must face at some point in our lives: the concept of growing up. His mirrored all our aging faces, and the dreams we all ached to have, and while our dreams have not come true, his dead. But clearly, this was not enough.
I went back to The Fisher King and the resurrection that his character underwent, and how love managed to save him and the other characters in the film, even when the dream turned out to be something other than he thought.
I’m sure some day, I’ll meet him in Never Never Land, and as he did in Julliard, he will test out one of his routines on me. And after all this time, it will be a celebration.

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