Robin Williams and Jeff Bridge’s modern take on the Arthurian tale revolving around a wounded king is a fun trip for anyone interested in analyzing the ups and down of cinematic culture; for example, the film displays a social awareness of the violence, but also fetishization, the homeless population faces: Bridge’s character is nearly murdered early in the film after being mistaken as such. Later, we see him reject the corporate fantasy revolving around the alleged freedom homeless people possess. Along the way, we glimpse how he received this enlightened state– he personally spent time with homeless people, people who were homeless not because they wanted to– the corporate fantasy– but because they were mentally ill and Queer and were forced out by the cold logic of capitalism. But, while this progressive take on the homeless is to be appreciated in today’s culture, which has regressed to fascistic standards against the homeless, including erecting “homeless spikes” to prevent them from sleeping in dry areas, in another respect, the film fails; when it comes to Williams and his lady crush, for instance, the film falls back on the cringe-inducing “stalkers are hopeless romantics!” stereotype which forcefully reminds viewers of the film’s age. Though the film has some Ableist overtones with the way it portrays William’s character, the writing and acting is otherwise well done. Combined with the poignant, if not self-serving plot of Bridge’s journey, then one has a story complete with a climactic reveal which will make one think of the price “free speech” entails. In all, The Fisher King is a fantastic take on a classic tale which should be mandatory viewing for any Neo-Arthurian scholar.
The Fisher King (1991)