Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dead Poet's Society (1989)

Although I found the acting to be forced and the characterization a bit cheesy, the Dead Poet’s Society is a film that has stood the test of time. The message is simple: Carpe Diem.

This movie takes place at a prestigious, all boys boarding school where each high school student takes on an overwhelming and practical academic load in hopes of carrying on the Ivy League legacy. However when a new English teacher, professor Keating (Robin Williams) comes to the school, his unconventional teaching stirs up controversy and thought-provoking debate amongst the student body. The theme of Keating’s lesson is “carpe diem”, also known as seize the day. He made the boys rip out pages to their English book in order to defy the scientific way a piece of writing would be judged. Keating encourages his students to be who they want to be, and say what they feel. His message penetrated the soul of the students, two in particular.

Todd Anderson was one of those students. He was an extremely shy boy and the younger brother of a valedictorian and roommate of Neil--- a well liked student who had his fut
ure laid out for him since he was in a cradle. Neil did not want to join his father’s career but instead
wanted to act. After defying his father’s who forbade him to act in the play where he was the lead, Neil was punished harshly. Due to Keating’s teachings Neil knew he would never be happy and took his own life. Keating was eventually fired and blamed for Neil’s death, but the Dead Poet’s Society, a group originated by Keating while he was a student but reinstated by Neil, stood by their teacher and mentor.

I don’t think this film was distinctly a 80s film. I feel as if a popular theme in 80s films when concerning schools was to fit in, not stand out. I would, however, definitely recommend this film to others. The
message was strong, especially the last scene when the students stood on the desks and said “O captain my captain” to Keating, showing their irrefutable support. Not content with just one opinion on this movie? Click here for a different opinion.

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