Yesterday Robin Williams tragically passed away, and the CC staff has spent the hours since the announcement reflecting on the presence he and his iconic roles have had in our lives. It seems that all of our favorite childhood movies, from Aladdin to Mrs. Doubtfire to Hook, featured Williams’ irreplaceable brand of comedy. Today we’re choosing to remember his life through one of his most moving film roles, Good Will Hunting.
Good Will Hunting is the breakout movie, written by Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, that solidified each of them both as actors and writers. The film was about a custodial worker, Will Hunting (Matt Damon) who happened to be a genius. A professor (Stellan Skarsgard) discovers Will’s gift after he solves a difficult equation left on the classroom chalkboard.
The professor arranges for Will Hunting to study mathematics and see a therapist, Sean (Robin Williams), to avoid incarceration after having beat up a childhood bully. Good Will Hunting is about the value of a college education. Not in that conventional, “everyone needs an education way,” but it really explores what it means to have the privilege of an education and what it actually means to learn. Will would have been a genius no matter what, but if he hadn’t gone to college no one would ever have known the glory and power of his gifts or abilities. Sure, he could have kept going to library but without the institution he wouldn’t have been able to touch and teach those around him. This raises all kinds of questions about, well, why things have to be exactly this way. Why does a genius need the validation of a very expensive and privileged institution just to be heard? Moreover, what does it mean for an underprivileged person to go through college when he is socially surrounded by those from a different background.
In the film Sean is able to inspire Will, not by coddling him but by challenging him Will had a great head on his shoulders, definitely, but it was the chip off of his shoulder that was closing him off to others and the possibilities of life and his potential. Although he was his therapist, Sean was basically his surrogate professor who taught him things he couldn’t learn in a classroom.
The story is about overcoming circumstances in order to reach your fullest potential and serves a discussion about class privilege and higher education. Good Will Hunting is one of those movies you watch for three reasons: to get inspired, to have a good cry or
to bask in Ben Affleck’s Boston accent, the legacy of a great, comedic and dramatic, actor Robin Williams. It’s a triple threat, if you will.
This post originally appeared from Emerald Pellot.