“CARPE DIEM. Seize the day. Make your lives extraordinary.” The time we have in the world is shorter than we think, so we must not let time pass us by. For one man, he captured the essence of this quote by making his life exceptional until the very end. Robin Williams, a man with unmatchable presence, grew to be one of the most brilliant performers to ever grace the screen. Starring in various movies that touched upon sensitive subjects such as trauma and mental illness, Williams served to guide the troubled and inspire them to overcome their obstacles, no matter how bleak the present may seem at first. The news of his untimely death was powerful enough to stir the entire world with shock and sadness, and his death ultimately revealed that he himself needed a guiding light. But the legacy he had created endures as does the many impactful movies that showed Williams as a mentor, teacher, and captain for those in need.
”Our job is improving the quality of life.”
Patch Adams makes his case, pleading in front of a panel of judges who are close to expelling him from medical school. Throughout his school career, he had seen with angry eyes how his professors never saw their patients as human beings but only as illnesses written on a clipboard. They had actively distanced themselves from the people they were treating, making the hospital atmosphere dreary and suffocating. Seeing the lack of happiness in these hospitals, Patch had thus made it his responsibility to show his fellow doctors that conversing with patients and giving them the time and energy to learn about their joys in life was much more effective than their current treatment. But now, he was facing trial for what many claimed was buffoonery and foolishness. Patch isn’t deterred, however. He faces the judges with a determined look and appeals his case with a simple notion: laughter is the best medicine.
Based on a true story, Patch Adams is about a man who finds new purpose in life when he realizes that humor can change a person’s life around, especially those who cannot escape the enclosed walls of the hospital building. His first encounter happens when he admits himself to a mental institution for having suicidal thoughts. He meets other “mentally insane” patients and bonds with them, truly listening to their stories and using humor to alleviate the somber mood. The patients roar with laughter, and even the most paranoid of the bunch is able to break out from his shell. From this revelation, Patch continues to promote this belief in medical school and strives to make meaningful relationships with others in hopes of learning what truly makes them happy. Children with cancer eagerly await his visit, nurses cannot help but chuckle at Patch’s antics, and even the most disgruntled patient thanks him for making the last few moments of his life so joyful.
For the audience, Patch Adams, played by Robin Williams, shows the need to find humor even in the presence of tragedy. Williams’ performance embodies the small but impactful moments of joy that make pain bearable. In the face of loss and heartbreak, finding that small bit of happiness is crucial because it gives people hope to live in the moment. By giving us laughter, emotion and heart-warming scenes, Williams reminds us to always try to find humor in times of hardship to help you appreciate the life you are blessed with.
Good Will Hunting
”It’s not your fault.”
Sean Maguire takes the struggling boy in his arms and refuses to hear any excuses the boy makes. He repeats those words until the phrase finally goes through the boy’s head and he starts crying on Williams’ shoulder, a burdensome weight finally lifting. Sean had been able to realize early on that the boy carried a heavy burden in his heart, having been abused by his father as a child. He thus made it his duty to offer Will the father figure he always deserved. His therapy methods are a bit unconventional, but he shows that, though it may be easier to forget the pains of the past than face them, there are always better ways to cope with them.
Good Will Hunting follows a genius named Will Hunting who cannot escape the troubles of his past. In comes Robin Williams, who plays an unconventional therapist named Sean Maguire, who sees past Will’s aggressive façade and guides him to loosen up and ultimately let go of his trauma. Both are troubled with heavy burdens, but they work together to build trust and dependence. At its core, Good Will Hunting demonstrates that childhood trauma might feel long-lasting, but even if the past can never be changed or forgotten, you should not let it affect the present “you,” who is so much stronger and can be so much more accepting of others.
At the climax of the movie, Will finally comes to terms with his traumatic memories and breaks down in tears as Sean embraces him tightly. The movie provides the much-needed message of seeking out professional help without feeling weak or criticized. Sean symbolizes healing as his therapy methods dare us to confront our inner demons and ask the questions we are always afraid of asking. His role as a therapist allows us to see the helpful impact it can give to our mental health because therapists are able to guide us to become more in tune with our minds, truly helping us to understand where the pain is coming from and how we can tackle it in the most effective way.
Dead Poets Society
“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.”
John Keating, the school’s new English Literature teacher, boldly stands on top of his desk, and his students are both baffled and mesmerized by his action. The desk he stands on is no longer a tool for their studies but instead an instrument for change. Keating tells them that the view from above is so much newer than the boring view they are currently exposed to and encourages them to stand on their desks as well. In other words, take the ordinary and strive to make it extraordinary. There is something in their teacher’s words that prompts them to think differently for once. All their lives, they had been chained to their parents’ expectations, walking down a planned future they had no say in, but this vision was now breaking. In a world in which everything must fit into a mold and stepping out of line will make you a lifelong outcast, John Keating reminds us that being the odd one out can be the more rewarding.
A group of students living under extreme amounts of pressure in a school that cold-bloodedly refuses any and all uniqueness is swept away by the ideals of Keating, whom Robin Williams embodies fully. He helps his students realize the suffocating life of conformity and the excitement of being different from the rest in his classes. He once takes his students out to the field and asks three of them to start walking without any explanation. They begin to walk at their own pace, all having distinct qualities in their stride, but when Keating starts clapping his hands and they begin to march uniformly to the beat, Keating demonstrates the exact moment individuality is stripped away in the face of conformity. He motivates this group to look past societal expectations and find their own path, regardless of how “abnormal” it may be.
Williams’ role as Keating is inspirational because it caters to anyone who wishes to do something extraordinary but is afraid to step out of their comfort zone. We constantly live in fear of rejection and uncertainty and believe that it is better to live through a predictable, planned out life. Keating ardently fights against this by constantly reminding us that unpredictability is what makes life so interesting. This is a reminder that everyone needs, during a time in which society favors conformity immensely. Keating reassures the audience that, while it may be more difficult, it is ultimately rewarding to go against the system and work towards a goal that you wish to live for.
At the end of the film, Keating is fired because his unique teaching methods have caused immense chaos in the school’s system. He goes back into the classroom to retrieve his belongings with a melancholic look, but the shyest of the class suddenly bursts into action, standing up on his desk to pay homage to the captain that inspired them to seek their own path. Others follow in his step, ignoring the principal’s screaming threats. In this bittersweet ending, Keating smiles at the legacy he has created and thanks the boys for paying heed to his words and standing up to see what different view await them.