“I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.” – Robin Williams
The next few weeks at Filmera we are exploring comfort films. These can be films that we always have watched around this time of year or the films we watch when we feel alone or scared, or just need to be reminded there is joy and happiness in the world. Comfort films are the films which are able to move past the medium, move past the screen and emotionally touch us in some positive way. For me, when I was brought the prompt for what are my comfort films, I instantly thought of Robin Williams. He had a presence on the screen, and indeed off it, that transcended the medium. He is human, he is hopeful, he is zany, he is crazy. I think the above quote shows best why Williams is a comfort actor. Many comedians speak about this idea of fighting their own sadness with comedy.
He was a revolutionary to the comedy world, and he is someone whom I can say brings a light and joy for me whenever I saw him on screen. Whether it was in his classic comedies like Mrs. Doubtfire or revered dramas like Good Will Hunting, Williams stood out for his charisma and charm. He has a magical way of touching so many people with his humor and the characters he played.
The ideas of comfort and love almost bleed from his movies. What I will explore these next few weeks is how Williams was able to transfer these emotions and intangible feelings from the screen and to our hearts. That is something I have come to appreciate about film. It can work in a way to emotionally destroy you, like Moonlight, or it can be constructive and shed light into the darkness, like Hook.
As fires burn up California, The Bay Area—Williams’ hometown—gets shrouded in smoke, as mass shootings turn from breaking news to just news, as the world seems to be getting worse, I feel even more now than ever we need comfort films and actors like Williams to give us hope and to not look at the darkness in despair, but to look at the darkness with a light and fire for hope and change.
I will be exploring each week a Robin Williams film I have seen and a film of his I have not yet seen. Through this, I hope to understand Williams as an artist and person and exploring him through the above quote. How Williams worked to create happiness and tried to make none of us feel worthless. How and what emotions Williams was able to transmit from his work to his audience.