The Haanta Series venerates the inimitable Gene Wilder

The horrors of the year seem ceaseless. I know death, especially for the old and ailing, is not an evil, but it must be an evil to all the rest of the world, to everyone who will look on at the passing of such an exceptional artist and be ruined by the loss.

I must love anybody who can employ the word 'swell' with such easy fluency as Gene Wilder did, and indeed, I did love him, in my own quiet way, extolling his efforts, lauding him as one who remained steadfast in the face of a changing industry, as one who saw his art and passion move in a different circle, and as one who looked at parts and films offered him in this new style and said, "Good day, sir." When asked why he had remained out of films for the better part of the last twenty years, he replied that so few films these days have any artistic merit, and that he should have valued merit over money is a quality which shows his higher character: he would rather write, he said, than act, if there was nothing out there worth acting. He turned to novels in his later life, and when illness surmounted him, he scarcely was seen again in public but to do the odd interview.

I will never forget the very first time I saw him in Willy Wonka. He was such a strange character, I had no idea what to make of him. Was he mad? Was he cloying? Was he sincere? Was he acting a part to set aside those who deserved to know him more intimately? I had never come to a decision on this point until I was older. The dark comedies of that era, and especially those Wilder produced with Mel Brooks, shaped a part of my character, the part that laughs at seeing wanton children being sucked down drainpipes, the part that laughs at dancing Nazis sing about springtime, the part that laughs at Yiddish-speaking chieftains, and due to the state of the world, we will probably never again see films of such creativity and artistic excellence. I suppose Wilder understood this, in his own way, after decrying the many unnecessary remakes that are now in circulation. I admire his style of integrity, and it is all my ambition to achieve at least half of the sagely dignity he cultivated over his eighty-three years of life.

I have nothing else to say about bereavement: this year has claimed all the words I had on the subject, and now, whenever I hear that a personal hero is gone, I merely sink into a heap of misery and stare at the wall for a day, wondering whether all these men and women of artistic majesty have made some clandestine pact to all leave at once. I cannot blame them, surely, but the vacancies they leave behind, married with the reminder of our own evanescence, are grim realizations for a spiritless and digivating generation.

Good day, sir. Good day.