I went to see the Movie Bill W yesterday and I am still moved by what is an excellent portrayal of this remarkable man.
Using old footage and a mix of actors this documentary is very well made. It helped me understand this complex and very human man in a way I had never understood him before despite 15years in this program of AA. The movie starts with Bill’s childhood and the fact that he was abandoned to live with his grandparents by both of his parents at a very early age. This had a profound effect on him as it would on any child. The movie walks us through his life and his journey to alcoholism, despair and the jaws of death. What I loved most about the movie was the way it told the story of AA, its early turbulent days and how Bill got the movement to what it is today. The lack of structure and organization was Bill’s idea and the traditions saved the movement for the rest of us. Bill never took a drink for 35 years and the story goes on to tell of his other struggles with depression which is something many alcoholics in recovery are very familiar with. One surprising part of the story was his very public affair with another member of the program. This was news to me but I was not surprised. I loved the fact that the story showed him a flawed human being just like the rest of us. His god like status in AA did not fit well with him and he struggled to just be another member which he could not as he was Bill Wilson and its founder. His financial and personal struggles are laid out and again I had always thought of him as wealthy but nothing could be further from the truth as being the AA founder put in on the breadline. The way the 12 steps were written can only be described as remarkable their very simplicity is what makes them work. The story covered his relationship with his wife Lois his faithful wife of 53 years.
This is a great story and I wonder if people who are not in AA will go to see it. They should because the claim that Bill Wilson may have been one of the most significant people of the 20th century is understated. Today there are 2 million members of AA and its has saved millions of lives including mine. Any other person who produced a movement which had saved that many lives would be recognized outside of AA. But maybe this is as Bill intended it “Anonymous” I am very glad he had that spiritual awakening and did for us what he did. God Bless this alcoholic who gave me back my life.
This movie is a must see if you are in AA or any twelve step program and it would be wonderful if the greater public especially health care professionals watched what is not just a a great story but one of courage and determination which gave us the gift of the magical 12 steps.