Now I’m sure you’ve all already heard of Gene Wilder’s passing, and you’ve also probably read more than enough from other websites and news outlets to know pretty much everything you could ever need to know about it. So rather than just repeat what all of the others have been telling you, I thought I’d get a little soppy and share what Gene Wilder’s movies meant to me.
Growing up my father tried to do as much with me as possible, but we were very different personalities and so despite our best efforts we didn’t always connect on the level that I knew he wanted. But there was always one thing we could do that was guaranteed to succeed; watching Gene Wilder movies.
There was something about them that just left us both in heaps on the floor laughing together. Gene Wilder had this natural way of acting in a serious manner but being comedically perfect through doing so. No matter what movie we watched with him in, we were laughing almost uncontrollably.
From Stir Crazy, to Blazing Saddles, to See No Evil, Hear No Evil, to Young Frankenstein. Any time we watched one we shared a moment of pure laughter and fun effortlessly. The skill in which he performed his roles made it so that we could reach that level of connection that we both sought but otherwise couldn’t reach.
When my father tragically left us a little over a year ago I didn’t know how to react. For hours I just sat there, silent. The man that had raised me was gone. It was a moment I’ll never forget when my mother called to tell me that I would never have the chance to see him or hear his voice again. So I sat, silent, unable to think what to do next. Then, almost without realising what I was doing, I put on Young Frankenstein.
For the next two hours and twenty minutes I sat watching our favourite movie. Laughing at the jokes we had heard together hundreds of times. I was alone, but not really alone. All the wonderful memories I have of watching these movies with my father came flooding back, and continue to do so every time I sit down with my wife and watch them.
That. That, to me, is how Gene Wilder will be best remembered by the masses. Not for his awards, his personal accomplishments, his contribution to movie industry, but for the smiles and laughter, and the memories that he so effortlessly created for millions of people.
Thank you, Gene Wilder.