Tuesday, 12 August 2014

O Captain! My Captain! RIP Robin Williams

It may be late in the night here in the UK but the breaking news of the death of Robin Williams at the age of 63 takes me back to the cinema in Richmond where along with a group of friends from Kingston University Polytechnic we watched Dead Poets Society.

I sat there in the dark and really recognised with the character of Neil Perry (played by Robert Sean Leonard). For those who have seen the film but can't place him, he was the artistic one who wanted to be an actor and on the night of his Puck in A Midsummer's Night Dream took out his father's revolver and took his own life. He stood out, he was different from those around him, he was considered a sensitive sort, all of which I had been at school. But then I also knew that there was something more about me, I knew even back then that I was gay, but I was just not open about it then (that would come a few years later).

But it was William's portrayal of John Keating the English master urging his class to Carpe Deum, Seize the Day that was the inspiration. Back in 1989 of course it was pre-blogger, pre-Facebook, pre-Twitter but I wrote my own review of the films I had watched and put them on index cards. I looked out those cards just now. I gave the film 5 stars but as well as the review I wrote at the end "Carpe Deum, Seize the Day, Be Yourself!" cryptic enough for me to know what that meant, but also coded enough not to let anything out of the bag.

You see it was partly from Robin Williams and the young men including Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles as well as Leonard that I started to become the person that I now am. Able to stand out proud of who I am. Able to seize the day everyday.

Like Neil Perry from the film, and as it turns out Robin Williams himself though I have also fought depression, I have also though of killing myself, but unlike both of them I know I want to seize more days ahead and haven't followed through. Of course there were other films that showed both his comic genius and ability to play it straight, but in the immediate aftermath and in light of the way he died this is a poignant recollection for me just now.

Mental health is a serious issue and can affect even the brightest and most intelligent and brilliant of those amongst us. So if you are affected by it you should know that you are not alone, but don't go through it alone if you life here in the UK and feel suicidal reach out speak to a friend, or if there is nobody else call the Samaritans on 08457 909090, someone is always there to listen to you.

Also from that film his character said:

"No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world"

The words and ideas from that film certainly had some part in changing my world and for that I will always be grateful.

O Captain! My Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the bugle trills;

For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths—for you the shores a-crowding;

For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;

Robin Williams 21 July 1951 - 11 August 2014

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful post, Stephen, which truly moved me to tears.