A friend of mine posted a rebuke on Facebook to those expressing sadness at the passing of Gene Wilder, pointing out that Wilder suffered from Alzheimer's and thus his death was something to be grateful for, not sad about, as it was a release for him from that tragic disease and a relief for his family and friends.
But my perspective, as someone who hit the sad emoji over and over again to posts about Wilder yesterday, is that I wasn't expressing sadness that Wilder was finally free of his suffering, but that this genius of unique movie performances no longer existed in my this world. I'm grateful as I'm sure we all are that the purity of his talent lives on in film but it still feels like an iconic presence has departed, and the loss feels monumental.
From the first time I, and most audiences, saw him, in his brilliant brief appearance in BONNIE AND CLYDE, there was no way of denying the power of his original screen presence. I could list other great performances, but instead here's an example of the power of his one-of-a-kind take on his characters' emotional lives. This is an extremely simple song, in every way, and an equally simple scene, and yet Wilder endows it with more complex emotion than Hamlet's soliloquy (oh how I'd have loved to see him do that):