M. SCOTT MORRIS: Robin’s Red Knight and Holy Grail



Forgive me, but I’m late for the party, or in this case, the wake. Like many of you, I’ve lost a much-admired celebrity.

My wife came with crying eyes and told me Robin Williams had died. I didn’t react much at the time, and I was puzzled by that.

Where was my celebrity grief?

I’d been a fan since before TV’s “Mork & Mindy,” when Williams appeared as his Mork character for an episode of “Happy Days.”

I’d pulled for him in early, overlooked movies like “Moscow on the Hudson” and “Survivors,” and I enjoyed his success in “Aladdin,” “Good Morning, Vietnam” and “Good Will Hunting.”

But there was only one movie to watch the day he died: “The Fisher King.”

I’ve owned a copy on VHS for nearly two decades, but I’ve been afraid to watch it because the VHS player ate the last tape we tried.

It was Netflix to the rescue. With a few clicks on a screen, I was transported to New York City in June, when greed was so very good.

“The Fisher King” is by far my favorite Williams movie. It’s also my favorite Jeff Bridges movie and my favorite Amanda Plummer movie. I would say it’s my favorite Mercedes Ruehl movie, except it’s the only one I can think of.

I have an overall appreciation for the madness Terry Gilliam made with Monty Python, and I’ve been entertained by his directorial work on “Time Bandits,” “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and others, but nothing compares to “The Fisher King.”

Bridges plays Jack, a self-centered, radio “shock jock” who unwittingly badgers a meek guy into unleashing a shooting spree at an upscale eatery. Williams is Parry, who loses his mind and the love of his life in the shooting.

A year later, the bungled and botched pair battle the Red Knight and their own inner demons, while also chasing after the Holy Grail on the Upper East Side.

Sounds gut-wrenching, doesn’t it?

It’s also kind and sweet – lyrical – and it builds to a powerfully redemptive moment that hit me hard the day Williams died.

“The Fisher King” always makes me want to be a better person.

The feeling passes somewhat quickly, because it’s only a movie, after all.

But for a minute or two, I pierce the veil to see the underlying beauty and goodness that are always there, if often obscured by fear and pain.

After watching that night, I ordered a copy of the screenplay. It wasn’t the same as sending flowers to Williams’ family, but they don’t need to be bothered by me anyway.

I also went ahead and bought a DVD copy, just to have it ready for the next time I have to face down a Red Knight, or when someone I know is thirsty and in need of a cool drink.

So long, Robin Williams. Thanks for the metaphors.

M. Scott Morris is a Daily Journal feature writer. Contact him at (662) 678-1589 or scott.morris@journalinc.com.

Click video to hear audio