It just so happened that when I opened my Facebook this morning, the first piece of news that I read was the death of Robin Williams. Initially I thought it was a hoax (some bo Liao people start death hoaxes about celebrities all the time) and I googled about it. To my dismay, the major news channels were reporting it.
“The world has lost a great actor” was the headlines of most news articles (with slight variations). I grew up with Robin Williams’ movies. It was during my “age of freedom” (the beginning of the time when parental approval was freely given to go out with my friends) so I watched a lot of movies and that was the peak of Robin Williams’ acting career. As a result, I watched a lot of his movies, from comedies to inspirational ones.
My favourite Robin Williams’ movie would have to be “Dead Poets Society”.
I love his rousing performance as John Keatings who inspired his students to think, to feel, to live! Perhaps it was because I could identify with the impressionable youths as I was one myself at that time. It was exhilarating to see a literature teacher being so unconventional (I was petrified by my very fierce English teacher at that time. I hope she’s not reading this…). It also helped a lot that the movie had some really good looking actors. I was quite enamoured with Ethan Hawke at that time.
Although when I watched the movie again as an adult, I felt that he was not being totally responsible by being too extreme.
Nevertheless, the movie was inspiring enough that vivid scenes reappear in my mind at the mention of Robin Williams or Dead Poets Society. That is, perhaps, one of the greatest gifts that Robin Williams has given me.
The most memorable scene :
I call it – standing on the table scene.
When John Keatings started standing on the table, reciting, “O Captain my captain!”
“Why do I stand up here? Anybody? I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.” It’s almost as synonymous as Scout Finch “To kill a mockingbird” to wear that person’s shoes and walk around in it.
“Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”
And the final scene when all the boys started standing on the desks one by one, as John Keatings was leaving the school.
That was indeed a moment of courage and gratitude.
Other less well remembered quotes :
“I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.”
“Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”
Thank you Robin Williams for delivering the lessons of life through your movies. Rest in Peace.