The news of actor Robin Williams’ passing, allegedly by suicide, is a tragedy that has struck millions of people around the world incredibly hard. We are used to waking up in the morning and reading the obituary of somebody famous – this year it seems to be happening more frequently than ever – but it very rarely strikes right at the heart of us. It seems impossible to truly feel sad about the death of someone we never personally knew, apart from as a face on television or the cinema screen. The fact that Robin Williams death has left so many of us in a genuine state of shock and sadness is not only testament to what an incredibly powerful and eclectic performer he was – we each of us, regardless of our age, regardless of the kind of movies we enjoy, all have a favourite Robin Williams film – it also underlines how great a human being the man was and how honest and truthful talent (and an absolute joy in sharing that talent with others) can touch the universal human heart. On this sad day, with rain quite appropriately spattering against the windows as I write this, it seems that Steven Spielberg’s casting of Williams as the melancholy ‘boy who never grew up’ in ‘Hook’ was never so completely on the money.

With ‘Movie Ramblings’ love of all things horror, it’s worth noting that Robin Williams made a few tentative forays into our favourite genre. Christopher Nolan’s ‘Insomnia’, although not actually a horror film, had its nasty claustrophobic moments and ‘One Hour Photo’ is probably Williams’ best known turn at playing psychopath. ‘One Hour Photo’ is a particularly interesting entry in the Robin Williams’ canon because it is so emotionally truthful, and watching him portray the quiet supermarket clerk whose obsession with a young housewife and her family drives him into madness is truly affecting, and disturbing to watch. I remember that seeing Robin Williams transformed in that way was a little like waking up Christmas morning to find Santa Claus had left my parents heads in my stocking.

He also made the much less well-known ‘The Final Cut’ and ‘The Night Listener’, which contained their own unsettling creepy elements.

Away from the horror / thriller genre, but staying apart from comedy, Robin Williams also made several films that examined the darkness of the human soul. ‘What Dreams May Come’, in which he played a widower who descends into the afterlife to rejoin his dead wife, was criticised for its maudlin tone and its muddled storyline but has some impressive visual effects and Williams gave a fine central performance. ‘The Fisher King’, Terry Gilliam and Richard LaGravenese’s modern retelling of the Grail legend, in which Robin William plays a deranged street-person whose life disintegrates after his wife’s murder, is a beautifully poignant film and still one of my personal favourites. And then, of course, there is ‘Good Will Hunting’, ‘The Awakening’ and ‘The Bicentennial Man’ all of which – in their own quite separate ways – are stories about man’s quest to discover himself and his purpose on Earth.

Just considering those handful of examples, it does feel as if Robin Williams was a gentleman who was as much interested in what makes a human being tick as in what makes a human being laugh.

Of course, laughter is what we shall all remember him for and the films in which he made us laugh are too numerous to list but let’s just a remember a few – ‘Good Morning Vietnam’, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’, Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ (of course!) and Woody Allen’s massively underated ‘Deconstructing Harry’, another Allen film (like ‘Husbands and Wives’ but a lot funnier!) to suffer adversely from the Mia Farrow / Soon-Yi Previn debacle.

I also have to admit a sneaking like for a 1997 film Williams made with Billy Crystal called ‘Father’s Day’, which I originally only went to see because Nastassja Kinski is in it. Let’s not also forget his turn (alongside seemingly the rest of Hollywood) in Kenneth Branagh’s epic ‘Hamlet’.

Robin Williams was – is – will always be – one of the very few actors and comedians who truly deserves the accolade ‘Genius’ and his genius will live on, and resonate through not only entertainment but also human history, long after we have all joined him in the sky.

It is absolutely heartbreaking that a man whose work and laughter enriched our lives in so many ways was ultimately (as we currently understand) incapable of overcoming the personal demons that pursued him throughout his life. This isn’t the forum to talk about depression, anxiety and mental illness, how absolutely and awfully debilitating and destructive they can be to so many of us, how those conditions can be an absolute blight on the lives of the people suffering from them and the lives of the people they love, and how sometimes – as seems to have happened with Robin Williams – the battle can be too hard to survive.

But we all need to keep fighting. We can’t ever surrender. And the loss of Robin Williams, that even a man who was as accomplished and as loved as he was could not win out against this horrifying, insidious disease, should not only be a warning to stay on our guard but we should also remember the joy in life his work gave us and redouble our efforts, however hard today is, to stay focused and believe in tomorrow.

About The Author

Ian White is an author, screenwriter and journalist. His book ‘Witchcraft and Black Magic in British Cult Cinema’ was recently published by Hemlock and he is a regular contributor to ‘Paranormal Underground’ and ‘Starburst’ magazines. He’s currently writing a new book and screenplay and his embarrassingly out-of-date website can be found at