Robin Williams Fans Turn Toward Visions of Him in Heaven in 'What Dreams May Come'
As the world mourns the death of Robin Williams, the body of work left behind by the talented and much loved comic-actor is being celebrated and shared. Fans are revisiting films like Mrs. Doubtfire and Dead Poets Society and Hook. One movie, though, has emerged as a surprising talking point: the 1998 drama What Dreams May Come.
The spiritually themed (and visually stunning) drama began trending on Twitter within hours of Monday’s news that the 63-year-old Williams had died of an apparent suicide in Marin County, California.
The movie was among a group of titles from Williams’s roughly 50-film career that quickly rose to the top of the charts on both Amazon and iTunes, nestled among bigger hits like Good Will Hunting, The Birdcage and Patch Adams. As of this morning, What Dreams May Come was the 45th most-downloaded movie on iTunes, and the 40th top-selling movie on Amazon — ahead of Hook and Aladdin.
By no measure could Dreams be considered among Williams’ biggest hits – the film made a modest $55 million at the box office, just a shade less than Jack and Bicentennial Man, both films regarded as box-office busts. And though the drama received two Oscar nominations in the technical categories (and won for Best Visual Effects), it was met with mostly middling reviews.
But 16 years after its release, What Dreams May Come has slowly, quietly acquired a loyal following; it boasts a strong 85 percent audience-approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. And given the film’s themes of love and sacrifice, it’s easy to see why the actor’s fans would gravitate toward Dreams in the wake of Williams’ passing. The movie, based on a 1978 novel by noted sci-fi author Richard Matheson, tells the story of Dr. Chris Nielsen (Williams), a loving father and husband who experiences the pain and horror of having his two children perish in a car accident. Chris and his artist wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) are heartbroken and struggle to make their marriage survive.
Having just restored some stability to their relationship, Chris dies (in yet another car crash). After a short spell lingering on Earth to keep an eye on an emotionally devastated Annie, Chris eventually reawakens in heaven, where he finds a companion in a gentle and kindred spirit (Cuba Gooding Jr.). Annie, unable to cope with the loss of her family, takes her own life. When Chris learns that Annie’s fate, as a victim of suicide, is one of eternal damnation, he ventures into Hell to rescue her.