“How did you find what my brightest and bravest could not?”
“I don’t know. I only knew that you were thirsty.”
Today’s Key Movie:
This is one of those films that come along once in a lifetime. It hits the question of humanity on the head and gives you a reason to think. Stepping out of the 80’s for just a moment, let’s talk about the 1991 film The Fisher King.
The Fisher King (1991), directed by Terry Gilliam, starring Jeff Bridges and Robin Williams, is a story about a shock jock named Jack Lucas (Bridges). Lucas loves controversy, he loves being the center of attention and, when one of his callers takes his words to heart, he learns that things aren’t as simple as speaking your mind. You see, his words inspire a man to kill resulting in a massacre in a New York Restaurant. Needless to say, this event sends Lucas into a spiral and it is only his fateful meeting with a crazy homeless man named Parry (Williams), that he begins to discover that life is worth living. You see, Perry is a knight on a quest for the holy grail and that quest soon becomes Lucas’ as well.
Why this movie?
I was in junior high when I first saw this film. I don’t think it was in the theater as it was rated R and it isn’t likely that I could have gotten in, although our theater was a fairly lenient one. I do know I rented it on VHS and I was so glad I did.
You see, I was a Robin Williams fan through and through. I would watch pretty much everything he was in and when I heard that he was teaming up with Gilliam again (having been in Baron Munchausen), I was elated. This movie was bound to be a riot.
I wasn’t entirely wrong but I was mistaken. This isn’t a comedy. It has funny moments, don’t get me wrong, but it is not a comedy at all. Instead it is an exploration of life, what it is and also what it takes to forgive not only others but what it means to forgive yourself.
How did this translate to real life?
This movie hits me even harder today, with WIlliam’s suicide a few years back it’s both pleasant and painful to watch him on the screen in any form. To me, and I am sure many of you as well, losing Williams was like losing a close Uncle or Brother. I was somewhat broken for a time after that and, although mostly repaired, those pieces are still cracked. If a man like Robin Williams could suffer without anyone knowing, if he could then give into his demons, how could any of us manage to win that battle. The answer was simple, you just keep on pushing. You keep questing, even if your grail is an impossible task, it is your task and you need to keep moving forward. Find things each day to be grateful for, find things that encourage you to move forward.
This film deals with mental illness, with depression, with coping with loss. It also deals with finding redemption in places you would never expect. It tells you that, no matter what, there is hope and that hope is just around the corner.
Like one of my favorite songs from Gabe Dixon says:
‘All will be well,
Even after all the promises
You’ve broken to yourself.
All will be well,
You can ask me how
But only time will tell.’
Okay, you like this film, but is it really a ‘good film’?
Absolutely. It is one of the most enjoyable, sad and touching films you will ever see. It is funny, it is heartbreaking, it is beautiful. These are the rare films, the ones that matter. This isn’t one of Gilliam’s more ‘insane’ films but it is one of his best. Ironically it is also one of the few of his that none of his fellow Pythons were involved with. It is also, what I consider, to be Williams best role. I know the general consensus is that ‘Good Will Hunting’ was his best work, but I have to disagree. The Fisher King shows all of his range and all of his humanity and it is filled with unforgettable moments.
The entire cast is spot on in their acting and in their moments. Every player is perfect, no matter how small in their part. The script is perfect and although I am sure much of Williams dialogue was improvised, as he was known to do, you wouldn’t even notice it was.
The production quality is spot on. From the minor use of special effects that depicts Parry’s ‘madness’ and it is done beautifully. Every minute of this film is perfect and you should watch it all with a keen eye so as not to miss a moment.
OK, where do I get this movie?
This one is very widely available in pretty much any format. You can find it on DVD, Blu-Ray and even on your favorite streaming services.
You can find a copy on Blu-Ray for around $8 here from Best Buy HERE.
As usual, here is the movie trailer, I hope this sparks your interest even more.
If you would like to read more reviews please check out the rest of the Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday.
For more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here. and, If you dig Music, I have a semi regular series called Stand Out Albums that covers some of my favorite records I have come across in life.
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Late To The Game 12/29/2018