Monday, March 01, 2010

Dead Poets Society

The Dead Poets Society is a classic coming-of-age story, timeless for generations to come. It opens with a lecture from the ancient headmaster at the strict preparatory boys school, Welton Academy. The audience soon meets the main group of boys the film follows, young, bright boys all preparing for a future as leaders of their respective fields. They are enrolled in a poetry course taught by the new teacher John Keating (Robin Williams), where he focuses on the idea of independent thinking and the dangers of conformity--namely, a life less lived. "Carpe Diem" is the main theme of Keating's class.

Each of the boys internalize this lesson differently, which drives the plot of the film. Our main protagonist, Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), is painfully introverted because he doesn't feel others value him or his thoughts, a result of his family dynamics. Throughout the course of the film, Todd learns to open up to others and to even (occasionally) lead others to defy authority. For Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), "carpe diem" means to pursue Chris, the girl of his dreams who is seriously dating a lead member of the football team of the local high school. Knox writes her poems, brings her flowers, gets punched out by her boyfriend, brings her to a play, all in an effort to win over her affection. For Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), Keating's lessons inspire him to stand up to his controlling father and to audition (and accept) the lead role in a local play. He pursues his passion for acting instead of obeying his father, who pushes him to drop electives to pursue his goal of having his son go to Harvard to be a doctor.

The title of the film is adopted from the secret club the boys form—the dead poets society—inspired by Keatings, who founded the society during his tenure at Welton. The movie is full of drama and character development, sure to be a timeless piece given its lessons and quality.

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