A whole human life is just a heartbeat here in Heaven. Then we’ll all be together forever…. Robin Williams – What Dreams May Come
Many years ago I watched the Robin Williams movie What Dreams May Come. I have always admired Robin from the moment he burst into our lives in Mork and Mindy, blinding us with his comic genius. So, any movies he was in just had to be watched. It was 1998. I wasn’t in the best emotional state that year. My precious daughter had been killed just 3 years earlier and while still grieving, my beautiful mum was told she was dying, so I’ll admit I was not thinking or even acting with any great clarity of mind.
With a few friends around, I sat and watched it. I can honestly say I hated it. I hated it with every breath in me. In fact, I hated it so much, I was angry about having wasted money on hiring it. I’ve never, in the last 20 years watched it again, until tonight. Remembering that there was some beautiful artwork in it, I’ve been considering giving it another try as I accepted that perhaps my judgement was clouded at the time due to the grieving process. The fact that the movie was about death wouldn’t have helped my initial assessment of it, so tonight I gave it a second chance. I’m really glad I did.
It was so glaringly obvious on the second viewing that this was not a movie I could ever have enjoyed back then. The subject of death, grief, the afterlife and mental health was all way too much to have been able to deal with while I was in the midst of such trauma. Of course, back then, I thought I was handling everything just fine, so wouldn’t have put my rejection of the film down to my own traumatised state. Watching again tonight, I understood myself so much better and forgave the movie for the transgressions I felt it had.
For those who haven’t seen it, it is a movie about a man who dies and goes to his own version of heaven, then sets about searching heaven and hell for his wife. I wouldn’t want to tell you much more of this if you haven’t seen it. It is quite compelling but also so confronting. For someone like me who believes strongly in the afterlife, it tested a few of my long held beliefs. I don’t agree with a lot of the theories put forward in the movie, but it did make me think hard. In fact, the movie’s theory on suicide had me gritting my teeth again tonight, as I didn’t agree with what was talked about in the film. It did sadden me though, to think of how Robin ultimately died in that very way. Tragic!
What struck me most tonight though, was the beauty of the film. The imagery was very much the sort of work I love to make. Slightly surreal with both darkness and light in every scene. In one part of the movie, it was like stepping right into a Van Gogh or a Monet.. Some of the artists who inspired the artistic backdrops were Caspar David Friedrich, Hieronomous Bosch and many of the Old Masters. It is visually beautiful, though I’d love to see it remastered now as it seems a little faded and dull when it should be jumping off the screens.
I was so inspired by the beauty of it, that I wanted to pick my camera up and start creating, regardless of the late hour. I snapped photos of the tv on my iphone of some of the moments that made me catch my breath, just so I could look at them afterwards and be awed by them. It also gave me a few ideas for an upcoming series of images I’m doing.
I have been so busy over the last few months with creating a series of work on my childhood. This series can be seen on my photography page, Livonne Imagery It touches on how I dealt with sexual abuse as a child, by escaping into fantasy. I guess that’s why I made the art reminiscent of a fairy tale. The rest of this year will also be spent putting together another 3 parts of the same series, dealing with other events in my life. With my need to escape into fantasy still quite strong, this movie took me away from my lounge room and had me walking through heaven.
I’ll go to bed tonight, dreaming of stepping into paintings and living in that world where I create my own reality. A reality that is dripping with every colour of the rainbow, huge, bright angel rays of sunshine and big gnarly trees that bend with the weight of their own wisdom. Exactly the dreams I love to invite.
Happy dreaming….Livvy xxx