When Robin Williams died in 2014, the world lost a legend. No scene better encapsulates his brilliance than what must be one of the greatest monologues in entertainment history: the park scene in Good Will Hunting.
After being horribly verbally assaulted by his patient and boy genius, Will, therapist Sean makes one last attempt at getting through:
“So if I asked you about art you’d probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written. Michelangelo? You know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations, him and the pope, sexual orientation, the whole works, right? But I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You’ve never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seen that.
If I asked you about women you’d probably give me a syllabus of your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman and feel truly happy.
You’re a tough kid. I ask you about war, and you’d probably — uh — throw Shakespeare at me, right? “Once more into the breach, dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap and watched him gasp his last breath, looking to you for help.”
What Williams’s character is doing, though it may not seem like it at first, is giving Will a chance. A chance to say “I don’t know.” An opportunity to admit that he’s scared and talk about his feelings.
We can see that it’s working, because Will, for an on-screen eternity of four minutes, does not say a word. He just sits there, petrified. Here is a scene in which the main character doesn’t do a thing, yet it is pivotal, not just in the movie, but also for our lives.
Whether you show this scene to someone born ten years before the movie came out, or ten years after, they can relate. We, too, have been given plenty of chances to say “I don’t know” in our lives so far.
But, like Will, we keep missing them. This makes us miserable deep inside.
The Shattered Self
Maybe it happened after you graduated college. Or entered. Maybe when you started your first job, or even after…