Words: Chris Booth
“Stick around, chief. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”
– What Dreams May Come
The world wept when it lost one of its greatest comedic geniuses, Robin Williams. A prominent figure in the childhood of many growing up in the nineties, Robin Williams made us laugh and smile with such roles as Mrs Doubtfire and Genie from Aladdin. But there’s one lesser known role of his that has always been a part of my life. It wasn’t one of his funny roles. It didn’t make me wet my pants from laughter. No, it is actually one of the saddest, yet most beautiful, movies I have ever seen.
What Dreams May Come is a well told story about life, love, and the afterlife. The movie tells the tale of a doctor (played by Williams) who has lost both his children in a serious car accident. Soon after, he meets a similar fate – leaving his wife behind on Earth. But the story doesn’t end there. Christopher (the main character) finds himself in his own personal version of ‘heaven’ – a painting that he and his wife had painted before his children had passed away. He is met by the kind figure of an old mentor (played by Cuba Gooding Jnr.) who explains the concept of ‘heaven’ to him.
But apart from being amazed, Christopher is also worried that he has not met his children yet. But soon he is informed that his wife has died too. At first, joy consumes him, but when he finds out that she has gone to ‘hell’ due to her suicide, Christopher makes every attempt to save her – even following her into the pits of hell.
This gem of a movie is filled with beauty, sadness, joy and pain. It beautifully composes all of these elements into a movie that will leave no dry eye in the audience. But this movie isn’t only beautifully sad – it also gets you thinking… it makes you wonder what the afterlife will be like. It makes you think about how your own personal heaven will look and feel. Who will be there? Would you live in your favourite painting? Would you be surrounded by your lost pets? Will you fly? Will it be permanently sunny? Who knows? It’s all for you to think about.
But it also gets you thinking about the beauty and sadness in life. What makes life worth living? Who in your life means everything to you? Who would you sacrifice yourself for? Who would you die for?
The title is based on a quote from Hamlet’s soliloquy about suicide, so it is no wonder that the movie touches on the topic. But what makes this movie so poetic isn’t the harsh reality of suicide, but it’s how the people that you love can really make a difference in your life. Indeed, Robin Williams isn’t here anymore to make us laugh and cry in his amazing movies, but I like to think that we can watch his movies over and over again – allowing us to see the beauty in this mad, mad world.