-Robin Williams (Dead Poet's Society)
Robin Williams' characters spent their words wisely. Mr. Williams knew how to choose roles that taught us lessons through dialogue that was written for him, but spoken through the voice of a man who believed them. One only has to look at the outpouring of love and grief to know how many lives he affected. Perhaps in the silence of death he can teach us the lessons of mental illness. Not until we accept it as an illness and stand supportingly by those who are stricken, will a cure be found...a life be saved.
One of his strongest roles was that of a teacher trying to form young minds. In "Dead Poet's Society", Mr. Williams played a teacher who dealt with things that teachers deal with every day. His character faced the horror of helping students through the suicide of a promising young man around the same time I had to face the same thing in my classroom. Ironically he did a masterful job helping others through fiction, but mental illness robbed him of the ability to save himself.
N.H. Kleinbaum turned the screenplay into a novel that captured the words of the movie beautifully. I definitely recommend seeing the movie first (quite a testament to the only actor who has EVER made me say that) but adding the book to your library after the fact may not be a bad idea.
I am going to end today's blog with several quotes from the movie. Though the character of Keating said them, it was Robin Williams who made us believe them.
John Keating (as played by Robin Williams) :
We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer: that you are here; that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
There's a time for daring and there's a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.
Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
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! break out now is the time!