Began watching Good Will Hunting last night. Immense. If the essence of a great film is it’s great lines, or great scenes, Robin Williams’ lines to Matt Damon on the bench, where Williams bares his soul are so very powerful. It could be any elder speaking to any youth. Bigger than life…. a great series of lines. “Have you ever been inside the Sistine Chapel? Do you know what it smells like?” Yes, young people can learn a lot from books, but Michaelangelo is not experienced in a book. It is a vastly different thing to see it, to be there… to look up beneath that canopy of shapes, colors, forms.
My next thought: Could I write something like that? Could I write such heartbreakingly beautiful dialogue?
How did these men produce such incredible beauty? Men like Rilke, Chekhov, Chopin… for so many years, such consistently high quality. Chekhov was also a doctor and supported a family.
January 15, 2000
What follows here is the passage that I cited in my journal entry above, when Sean (Williams) confronts Will (Matt Damon) in Good Will Hunting:
“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 orientations, the whole works, right? But I'll 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 ask you about women, you'd probably give me a syllabus about 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. And I'd ask you about war, you'd probably throw Shakespeare at me, right, "once more unto the breach dear friends." But you've never been near one. You've never held your best friend's head in your lap, watch him gasp his last breath looking to you for help. I'd ask you about love, you'd probably quote me a sonnet. But you've never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes, feeling like God put an angel on earth just for you. Who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn't know what it's like to be her angel, to have that love for her, be there forever, through anything, through cancer. And you wouldn't know about sleeping sitting up in the hospital room for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes, that the terms "visiting hours" don't apply to you. You don't know about real loss, 'cause it only occurs when you've loved something more than you love yourself. And I doubt you've ever dared to love anybody that much. And look at you... I don't see an intelligent, confident man... I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you're a genius Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine, and you ripped my f--king life apart.”