Our cable provider’s pay-per-view offers trailers for many of the films that are available to watch. For the last few weeks there’s been a category called “Robin Williams”. It’s a broad assortment of films even if it really only scrapes the surface of a large body of work, from the man whose passing started a huge outpouring of grief in social media. Maybe it’s just the people I know (because after all we’re all stuck in our own little groups of shared interest), but I’ve never seen anything like it, at least not since I fell down the wormhole of social media:
- There was this little tidbit that re-surfaced, from CBC and This Hour Has 22 Minutes.
- Norm Macdonald –another Canadian—gave it all a slightly different spin.
- Russell Brand, another very complex comedian, offered this.
- And then there’s also Michael Moore, a man –don’t forget—who calls himself a comedian.
The others who passed away that week had enjoyed long full careers. I was quite upset about the death of Franz Bruggen, whose passing August 13th came just before his 80th birthday. But like Lauren Bacall (who was roughly a month short of her 90th birthday when she died August 12th ) or Licia Albanese (who was over 105 when she passed August 15th ), I felt Bruggen left behind a complete body of work, even if 80 is not necessarily the end for conductors (recalling several who worked well into their 90s, such as Klemperer). An untimely death is so much more than just the loss. We’ve also witnessed discussions about depression and how to respond. That’s probably a good thing, even if Williams would have been the first to mock his own re-framing as the poster-boy for an illness. And on top of that, he’d just discovered that he was developing Parkinsons.
But that’s not how we have to remember him.
The assortment of films I alluded to earlier often come with a trailer. The funny thing about trailers is how often they totally underestimate or misread the actual nature of the film. Hindsight is 20-20 of course. It’s wonderful to see the occasional trailer that actually shows you what the film looks like, rather than what the studio thought would be the best way to get you into the theatre, often totally distorting the film in the process.
This trailer for Adventures of Baron Munchausen has little to do with the film. No wonder that the film performed so poorly at the box office, considering how they promoted it. I’ve long wondered why Williams is credited as “Ray D Tutto”, not himself. I wonder if the studio wanted the film to fail, and so –given that Williams’ real name would have helped sell the film—they removed his name. Or maybe it was that they expected Terry Gilliam to be funny because he’s from Monty Python and they’re comedians (hm…reminds me of Robin Williams).
There’s a funny error, too, in the inclusion of A Prairie Home Companion among the films of Robin Williams. Why? Because there’s a bluegrass performer in the film who happens to be named Robin Williams, and he’s no comedian. Hmm well his name IS Robin Williams. I don’t think he’s dead though (and thank goodness).
Okay, we’ll set those two aside.
But there are also trailers that are time capsules, such as the one for Dead Poets Society, including that corny phrase “you’ll stand up and cheer”. Remember when trailers addressed you that way?
And there’s also the trailer for World According to Garp, a film that seems to come from quite another world than this one. But of course Irving’s novel and the film were prescient.
My favourite trailers are the ones that seem to capture some of the magic of their films & their times.
- Fisher King
- Good Will Hunting, a very understated & humble piece of work, from the time before Matt Damon & Ben Affleck were household names.
There’s so much more out there, whether we mean freebies on youtube or the actual films themselves. While Williams died an untimely death he still had a huge career, and leaves a colossal body of work. The man may be gone but my God there is so much left for us to see & to celebrate (as with Bacall, Albanese & Bruggen come to think of it).