Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams-“What Dreams May Come;” When Art Becomes or Transcends Life

The review I wrote that was published in the Malibu Chronicle in 1998 on “What Dreams May Come,” the movie starring Robin Williams,  that gets its title from a line in Hamlet's "To be, or not to be" soliloquy deserves deeper contemplation in context with Robin Williams crossing, and the incredible life he shared with us all.

When I reflect on the body of work that Robin Williams has contributed to our world, his compassion, humor, and zany child-like innocence that beckoned to choose roles in films that dealt with the core issues of being human, focused on life and death, either profoundly deep, or with the simplicity we all find relative. Robin certainly lived more than most in one life time.  Of course we are all thankful for the laughter, his incredible imagination, and his Zeitgeist for being Zany and outside-the-box. 

Personal memories of roller skating as a youth at special events and parties at Roxy Roller Rink with both Christopher Reeve and Robin—fueled my young imagination, causing a school girl to blur the boundaries between fantasy and reality, as we rolled around the circle to music, with laughter ingraining that life is indeed a big circle, where anything was possible…Both of these iconic acquaintances’ crossing hit a primal nerve that is quite profound in evaluating the body of their work with the roles they chose to play reflecting within the context of their lives and deaths.

Wishing the loved ones Robin left behind that they don’t have to go through the journey Robin Williams did in the role of Dr. Chris Nielsen in "What Dream May Come," to cross beyond life into the realms beyond Earth, Heaven and Hell--to realise the ultimate mystery of unconditional love.  Yet the power of unconditional love is the message, and surely love can transcend, even a life lived as a work of art. 

Robin’s works and the plethora of humanity he embraced with his person evokes the wonder about the phenomena of when art transcends or becomes life, and life transcends or becomes art? Is there validity to the concepts, theory and premise lived out in What Dream May Come?  If so, Robin’s crossing is merely the second act of the three Act play that becomes or transcends the cycle of life, and yet remains eternal.  Again, to those who live on with his personal love inside, the deepest sympathy for the journey love causes us to undertake to transcend the pain of loss and change of form.

Here is what I wrote for The Malibu Chronicle published in 1998 

(Review Essay)
Movies to the Maxx
What Dreams May Come.... Beyond the time, space, continuum...

Every once in a while comes a film that breaks the standard genres and enters a new dimension of entertainment. For those willing to enter into another paradigm of possibilities and explore existential questions, you will be crying with joy at the opportunity to dance in the abyss of experiencing a most special journey, into the real world- where the continuum of time and space occurs like a dream, in What Dreams May Come, directed by Vincent Ward.  

Just the way life reflects art and art reflects life, this movie will challenge your core beliefs about life, death and love and God.  What Dreams May Come is a romantic drama that experiments with the idea that soul mates, and soul connections really exist beyond what is seen.   It beautifully demonstrates the possibility of cause and effect and how everything in your life “Is,” because you cause it to Be- in alignment with something higher...God? 

After Chris Neilson (Robin Williams) dies, his heaven is actually, a beautifully painted world.  As explained to Chris Neilson in the film; “We all paint our surroundings here, but you’re the only one who’s chosen real paint.”   The relationships of the soul extends past the present time as demonstrated by the commitments kept in life with family and friends that extend into eternity.  Chris Nielson’s love for his wife and family, transcends time and he is willing to go beyond the duality of Heaven and Hell to fulfill his soul’s connection with his mate.

Coloring What Dreams May Come is a very talented cast.  Robin Williams demonstrates his flexibility and multidimensional skills that balance his powerful serious side, with his natural gift for humor and play.  Annabelle Sciorra authentically deals with the aging and shifts of time the film explores.  Max Von Sidow brings a depth of consciousness into his character, who once again is reminiscent of life and death with other- world- like accuracy.  Cuba Gooding, Jr. takes on the physicality of being a child in a man’s body with ease.    

What Dreams May Come demonstrates the power of thought as it creates our perception of reality and time. “Thought is real, and physical is the illusion,” as expressed in the film.   Awake our perspective of the dream state diminishes, compared to dreaming, where the dream feels like reality.  We see our physical worlds as we choose to see them.  If reality lies in perception and one doesn’t believe in the possibility of dreams coming true, than in reality-- their dreams die. 

If reality is malleable than how is it that we, as human beings, come to choose dark instead of light?  Each person’s Heaven and Hell is their own creation.  “Everybody’s Hell is different, the real hell is your life gone wrong,” as explained in the film. The concept of Heaven and Hell and the personification of the internal world, thus becoming the external reality, is executed quite adeptly.  What Dreams May Come takes us into a world to explore these questions on a journey where the fear that lives in the mind, can do visual battle with the soul’s higher purpose. 

What Dreams May Come causes reflection as to what is real and what is a dream?  These questions are presented with authority coming from the novelist Richard Matheson who brought you Somewhere In Time and Incredible Shrinking Man.  Can we expect anything lighter from Academy Award winning, screen writer Ron Bass (Rainman) who adapted the novel?  What Dreams... explores what is beyond the physical body, the mind, and how the Soul is challenged to blend this trinity of energies into one.

“For those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous for they may act their dreams with open eyes and make it possible”...
  -T.E. Lawrence--

Like the dreamers of the day, What Dreams May Come is a transformational film in that,  it deals with the premise that just like the dream of the night is to the day, our lives as we understand them to be, are small in the scale of eternal life... Should we chose to become aware and dream in the eternal realm, then there are no limits.

Through the reflection of the journey Robin William’s character makes the question as to whether everything in life is connected; through a purpose, a grand design, beyond time and space and the material world as we know it to be or exist, is raised.  Do we choose our parents and thus the psychological dynamics we grow up in, to provide the structure and familiar patterns to help bring us to our soul mate, where we can work out the karma of the past with love, play in the future and create a new possibility beyond our mind’s ideas? 

We all have experienced the feeling of meeting someone for the first time and having an automatic response to that person that transcends the reality of the present introduction.   We recognize this person from what feels like the past, there is something familiar about them.  The challenge is to find out where this person fits in your present life.  These soul connections are the makings of notions such as, “love at first sight”.   Is there just one soul mate for each being?  What feels like your soul “mate” may be a soul connection. 

What Dreams May Come plays with these relations in a profound way, and answers these questions with a possibility of life that is quite refreshingly new, yet perhaps is quite appropriate for this “New Age” as we come into the millennium. The movie brings the audience on a journey of faith without confronting the fundamental principles that usually divide religions.  Early in the film Chris Neilson asks, “Where is God in all of this?”  The answer is brushed off with, “He’s up there, somewhere...”   Yet God’s works are presented, especially at the end, where there is Divine Intervention regarding the rules and paradigms of Heaven and Hell. Time does not exist, as this movie expresses. What Dreams May Come artistically blends the laws of karma from non -western philosophy, with Christian believes of heaven and hell, painting different possibilities taken from world religions, and the theories recently demonstrated in quantum physics, from people such as Stephen Hawking.

What Dreams May Come artistically creates a collage of the complexity of life that is dramatically compelling and engages the senses to embark on journey where each breath captures the beauty of life in language and through vision.   That old cliché about life being a “blank canvas,” is demonstrated and layered throughout What Dreams May Come, both literally and figuratively.  The movie dances between the actual and the metaphorical gracefully probing the mind to question what “Is?” 

The lines in Ron Bass’s script may leave you in introspection, or the powerful language could cause you to go in the opposite direction.  In this regard What Dreams May Come’s premise is quite interactive with the ultimate mysteries of life.   Lines like, “Never give up, never give up...”.and “At least you are willing to see yourself.”  And contemplating, “What do you mean by you?”  And also, “You see your body because you like seeing one, you chose to see what you chose to see.” Cutting to the core is; “Sometimes when you win you lose, sometimes when you lose you win.” This dialogue moves us beyond duality, and identity, showing how it’s all relative to perspective... 

This movie exposes the cyclical pattern of life in an extraordinary way in multiple dimensions, and with unprecedented effects.  If you are not ready to confront this primal inquiry of beliefs that are usually reserved for the dream state, than at the least this film, frame by frame, will reveal a work of visually entertaining art.  What Dreams May Come is where past,  present and future occur in no time, or the same time, just as life does with death, it’s all cyclical, it’s all related, it means everything and Nothing at the same time, beyond time. 

-Suzanne Maxx is a Writer/ Producer/ Actress/ Athlete/ Instructor/ Public Speaker who is presently working to develop the World Team project.  Her other business,  Sports to the Maxx trains people to go beyond what they believe to be possible, balancing the physical techniques with a psychological inquiry and fundamental spirituality while training in; In Line and Roller Skating, Down Hill Skiing and Horseback Riding.  Suzanne has spoken internationally on topics such as “Zen and the Art of Extreme Sports” and “Media and Planetary Transformation”.  Suzanne is based in Malibu, California.