Dead Poets Society (1989) Poster

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A powerful antidote to conformism
fjhuerta-222 August 2001
There are certain films that get under your skin, never to come out. They change your life, subtly altering your perceptions of reality, almost always for the better.

Dead Poets Society is one of those few films.

I saw the movie back when I was in High School. I had a teacher who told us that we really needed to watch it; in fact, it was our "homework" for the day. We didn't need to bring back a report, or talk about it in class. All he asked from us was to watch it, make up our own mind about it, and that was it. As you can imagine, many friends of mine didn't watch it at all; I did. And yes, I feel I changed a bit from there on.

Back when you are young, you never really stop to think what in the world you are doing with your life. You simply live for the day, hope your grades will be enough to pass, and that's it. Long term thinking involves maybe flirting with a girl. Nothing more. What this film showed me was that we have the responsability and the joy of being alive in this planet. That we are dust, and we will go back to it, so we have precious little time to make a difference. That we have a moral obligation to "seize the day, and make our lives extraordinary" (my favorite quote in all movie history). That the world, basically is ours. That the only limitations are within ourselves, and that we owe it to us to fight, to rebel against conformity, to change what we hate and keep what we love. That living in this world is a beautiful responsability, and that only cowards dare not to change it for the better.

The fact that the cast was basically my age, and was passing through the same dilemmas and situations I was facing made it all so much more powerful.

So here I sit, 12 years from that day. I still don't think I have seized the day completely. But I keep on trying; I always will. I wonder how many people were transformed by this gem of a movie; I hope many.

10 out of 10. A definitive masterpiece.
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Seize the Day- One of the Greatest Movies Ever!
fred-kolb17 November 2008
Dead Poets Scoiety. I suppose if you were in High School sometime between 1990-2008, one of your teachers thought I'd be a good idea to watch this movie and I still remember my reaction and the ones of our fellow classmates: Yeah, probably a boring movie that will try to make the school look better and encourage us to do our homework and study for our tests. I couldn't have been more wrong. This movie definitely changed my way of thinking to a certain extent and there are very few films who have moved and touched me like this one.

The movie plays in 1959 and centers around a private academy somewhere in New England. The curriculum is extremely difficult and the teachers have no humor and are very strict. The new English teacher though, Mr John Keating (Robin Williams), who graduated from the very same school, uses unorthodox, but quite effective methods to teach the students about literature, and poetry. During their first lesson, he tells them that they can either call him Mr. Keating or "Oh Captain, my Captain", based on a quote by Walt Whitman. He encourages them to come out of themselves, use their energy to make their lives worth living and beautiful - Carpe Diem, Seize the Day! The plot also centers around two students: Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), who is funny and popular, but fails to gain his fathers pride, because of his wish to become an actor, and Todd (Ethan Hawke), who is very shy and unsure of himself, and is inspired by Keating to use his imagination and eventually we find out that he is very talented when it comes to poetry. After they find out about a club Keating was a member of while he was a student, the Dead Poets Society, which was forbidden by the school, they decide to reestablish it, what ultimately gets them into a lot of trouble.

There are several key factors, that make this movie as brilliant as it is. First of all there is the acting. Robin Williams, who I really like as a Comedian, really proves that he is a great actor, who can get deep into a character and play him with such passion and energy that you will forget he's an actor. Keating, whose teaching methods are indeed unusual and will probably make you laugh a couple of times, is a very interesting role, the teacher we all would have wanted, but not because he doesn't give homework or makes up very easy, open-book tests. No, because Keating shows us that we have to come out of ourselves, make the best of our lives and especially that there is a poet in everyone of us. Then there is the terribly under-appreciated Robert Sean Leonard, who also gives a very moving performance as a student, who is kept back by his father, and therefore fails to make his dreams come true. In my opinion he is very underused as an actor, and should have gotten a lot more leading roles. As for Ethan Hawke, he definitely was the best choice for the character he plays. We can literally feel his fear and shyness when he stands in front of the class and gets no word out, because he's so embarrassed.

Peter Weir, who is probably most known for his recent movie "Master and Commander" shows what a great director he is with this film and it definitely deserved the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and the nominations for Best Picture, Director and Leading Actor for Robin Williams.

Some of you may have heard about Roger Ebert absolutely negative review of this movie and that "he wanted to throw up at the end of the film". I can understand why people might not like the ending (I won't put any spoilers), but I think it just adds to the the beauty and drama of this film, a film that should definitely be on the IMDb Top 250 Movies. This is a movie, you must have seen!!
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Carpe Diem, because the days don't stand still
blissfulmitch4 February 2005
First of all, this is movie is my all-time favorite, out of all the hundreds of films I have seen. However, every time I mention this film, I have to answer most people's quizzical looks with "It's a beautiful little 80s film that stayed in the 80s." After seeing it for the 24th time since I first saw it 5 years ago, on my 13th birthday, I can gladly say that this movie went far and beyond the 80s, and the power and inspiration of the message can be felt every day.

Dead Poets Society is a most underrated film by a most underrated director whose inspiring, uplifting and moral tales firmly grounded in reality are not nearly as appreciated as they should be. Here, we see one of his very personal and cradled projects, and he shows the visual style and concentration on characters in which he is so affluent. His control of the camera and the characters are very strong and very smooth. The cinematography is near perfect, with every shot, along with the editing, seamless. Also very compelling are the color-tones in every scene, perfectly matching the mood and events of the scene. Could you say this is art? Absolutely.

Then we have the performances. Robin Williams continues in stride as one who has to-date remained the most touching, heart-wrenching, awe-inspiring comedians with inarguable acting talent (he still remains my most favorite performer on the film screen). His Professor John Keating is a man who embodies every professor who you thought was cool and respectable, every person who taught or enlightened you in something out of the ordinary. In fact - dare I say it? - he teaches something EXTRAORDINARY! We have the tragically underrated Robert Sean Leonard in his role as the free-thinking catalyst student Neil. Why is this man not a household name/Hollywood heavyweight? His roles are always full of inspiration, energy, and tragic emotion that never fail to move an audience. His role in this movie is fresh, unhindered, and never pretentious as the cautionary tale of the movie. And then we have Ethan Hawke in one of his earliest roles as the point-of-view character. The entire supporting cast is very strong, also, providing the foundation and serve as the various emotional ties that further involve us in the story. Josh Charles's role as Knox Overstreet is a role that almost all guys can relate to wholeheartedly. And of course, all the actors who are in that Dead Poets Society do a fine job.

And lastly, the story. I won't summarize it since it's been summarized many times here, but I will say that it is one of the best coming of age stories for not only adolescents, but anyone. I have personally heard from nine-to-fivers who were inspired by this movie to change the situations of their jobs, careers, relationships for the better. I first saw this movie when I was 13, and immediately stamped, crowned and elevated this movie as my all-time favorite. Now that I am 18 and living on my own, with very different concerns than back then, I turn back to this movie over and over again, to find inspiration, solace and of course, entertainment. It is still my all-time favorite, and it still inspires me to seize the day and make my life extraordinary.
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ijtfalcon20 January 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I have no need to summarize this movie seeing as how most people tend to do that anyway so, therefore, any addition of such would simply be frivilous. However, I am somewhat disappointed to see how people tend to misinterprate this film by proclaiming that the movie's message of carpe deium is derailed by the fact that those who apply it end up losing. This could not be further from the truth. In the beginning, when the young men are first introduced to this idea of sucking the marrow out of life it is applied by the students when its results prove to be fun and joyous. The point really driven home by the movie though is to stand up for one's beliefs throughout all of life no matter how hard it may prove. Now, while the character of Neil, does try to do what he feels he must without regard to his father, in the end, he doesn't stand up at all, but simply accepts his father's authority. Some may not like it but his story serves to prove just how important it is to stand one's ground no matter how hard it may be. It's not only his character, but in fact every character in the film that does not fully understand Mr. Keating's message until the very end by finally doing what they feel is right now matter how much the opposing forces deny this basic truth.

I urge everyone to give this movie a chance and to see it for what it really is. It may just change your life.
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A masterful tribute to teaching at its best
roghache3 March 2006
Dead Poets Society is, to use a cliché, a cinematic masterpiece. I can watch it over and over, absorbing more nuances of meaning every time. As a former teacher myself (albeit of science), I view it as a tribute to the profession at its best...teaching not merely the subject but also the person, and having a lifelong impact on students' lives.

The setting is Weldon Academy, a very traditional New England boys' prep school in 1959. If I can find one flaw with the movie...and there certainly aren't's the underlying premise that seems to worship free thought and implies that ALL tradition is of necessity undesirable and thus to be avoided. Frankly, compared to modern classrooms which are bastions of free expression, I found the Weldon students' respectful treatment of their teachers rather refreshing. (But perhaps that's just the ex-teacher in me coming out!) Some of Weldon's ideals, generally referred to in mocking tones, are actually qualities to which parents rightfully DO hope their offspring will aspire.

Robin Williams plays Mr. Keating, the English teacher we all wish we'd had. He brings warmth, passion, and an endearing quiet humor to the role as he fosters individualism in a school environment of total conformity, endeavoring to teach these young men both the beauty of the English language and the importance of living life to the full, of "seizing the day". How many of us mentally revolted at the dissection of poetry when we were in school? Many a viewer will both chortle and rejoice when Mr. Keating has his class rip out the methodical, emotionless "Introduction to Poetry" from the time honored Pritchard textbook!

The "Dead Poets Society", and the boys on which Mr. Keating has such a profound impact, include an interesting mix of characters...Neil Perry (the passionate young man at odds with his father's clearly defined expectations for his son's life), Todd Anderson (the classic shy adolescent, through whose eyes we view the unfolding drama), Charlie Dalton (the quintessential rebel), Knox Overstreet (the teen with whom most viewers can identify, deep in the throes of first love), and Richard Cameron (the mindless conformist).

Ethan Hawke gives a moving performance as Todd, the younger brother of a former Weldon valedictorian and my personal favorite, who undergoes a character transformation as the plot unfolds. In a sense, this movie is really Todd's story. As another reviewer has wisely pointed out, his best scenes are sometimes when he has no dialogue at all. Your heart will ache for him. The sub-plot of young Overstreet's romance with a girl from a nearby school may not be brilliant, but it provides some light, entertaining relief from the main drama.

Needless to say, Mr. Keating's unorthodox approach meets with obstacles...from his fellow teachers, from the school's ultra traditional Headmaster, from Neil's overbearing father and the other parents, who are depicted as a conservative, status conscious lot. His encouragement of adolescent individualism leads to dramatic consequences for one student in particular, triggering a dramatic scenario that engulfs most of his classmates. I don't want to give the plot away, but Dead Poets Society has the most powerful ending I've experienced in the cinematic world. I could watch it over and over, and tears would either come to my eyes or virtually stream down my cheeks every time.

It's an intelligent film, both gripping to watch and thought provoking afterward. Engaging plot, memorable characters, meaningful theme, wonderfully done scenes and atmosphere...Dead Poets Society has it all. A special tip of my hat to the cinematography; clearly, it should have won an Oscar for the final scene alone.

This is a must-see movie, especially if you're a high school student who hates English. It might just change your view of the subject, even if your actual teacher doesn't quite measure up to Mr. Keating. And for everyone...not only "Carpe Diem", but a certain phrase from a Walt Whitman poem will take on incredible meaning and be remembered forever.
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Poetry on the screen
chic122428 March 2000
Not only will this movie touch your heart and bring tears, it will inspire you to be a better teacher to others and to follow your dreams no matter what the boundaries may be. It is truly poetry on the screen... a great story and a touching social commentary on humanity and life's greatest challenges. If you haven't seen it yet, rent it now. It has taken my love of poetry to an entirely new level!
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Thank You Captain
CMTiago12 August 2014
It was with a sad reason that I re watched Dead Poets Society, as we lose yet another talent and an all round good person in Robin Williams. This being my favorite Williams film, I took it upon myself to honor his memory by remembering his best body of work, in my opinion. Mr. Keating is the teacher that I wish I had, and granted this might be a mixed opinion within the film's context, but the matter of the fact is that he was no ordinary teacher, and that's something you don't see very often.

The thing about this film is that it doesn't shorten its importance to Williams's performance. The supporting cast is one that balances the film like no other. Every one of those students that revived the DPS is, in one way or another, influenced by Mr. Keating, be that positively or, unfortunately, negatively. The story being an Oscar winning screenplay, is one that I think mostly resonates with younger people, and with this movie being part of my 10th grade Portuguese course, I, personally, embraced its essence and of course its driving message of seizing the day.

As I've seen here on IMDb, this movie might not gather nearly uncontested praise, but it is very much highly regarded today as it was 25 years ago. The final scene still gives me chills to this day, and in the midst of our sad goodbye to Mr. Williams I just wanna say Thank You My Captain. It was a pleasure learning to become my own motivated person. May we all Carpe Diem

Rating: 9/10
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A terrific film
pompaj17 July 2000
There's so much good about this movie. The first time I saw it I watched it solely for plot and I loved it. Now I've seen it again and watched Peter Weir's filming and timing which is also great. Robin Williams is a terrific actor when he's serious. He proved it in Good Will Hunting but he proved it first here. If you liked that movie and your liking it had something to do with Williams than you will like this one. The plot is about a number of students who are taught by Williams about life. They are taught how to enjoy themselves. This ends up causing great controversy among the heads of the school. The students are terrific and even the dialogue is great. This is a movie that I can't imagine anyone not liking. It is good in every way.
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this movie is the greatest movie, with excellent cinematic techniques.
jchckid19 March 2001
The film Dead Poets Society is a film that explores the idea of "Carpe Diem" (seize the day) from the viewpoint of a classroom of young men at an all boys boarding school. Their teacher Mr. Keating (played by Robin Williams)helps them stretch their minds, and exercise their right to defiant acts of love for life and poetry, rebuttlng society. The director Peter Weir treats you with eye candy by using various camera shots of beautiful scenary, and neat techniques. Weir takes you on a roller coaster that leaves you gripping your seat, enjoying life, and thinking "Carpe Diem" in your own life. There are some very depressing scenes, but they are very artful, and teach you of appreciation for those brave members of society that dare stand up for their beliefs, and rights to wrestling around with life. I thought Ethan Hawke (Todd Anderson) gave a true life twist to the film, Robin Williams (Mr. Keating or also known as Captain my captain) added an element of excitement, and Robert Sean Leonard (Neil Perry)added passion that leaves you mesmerized. I just saw this film in English class, but I immediatly fell in love with it, as I know you will.
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Pure excellence...
natalia181831 December 2004
I watched this movie today for about 15-th time. I'm never bored with it. A few hours ago I felt lonely and depressed.I decided to watch it without the scenes that evoke sadness.And even though I watched it so many times before I found it restorative and heart lifting. There are many good films.Also there are probably many better than this one;cause it's not flawless. But if you believe that a movie can change your life, I have no doubts that this one can influence you as no other. If you have not watched it yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? Go to the video rentals and buy it.Yes, don't rent it but buy it.It's a movie that you will watch many times.Perhaps it will even save you..As it had saved me..
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kbmoshea17 June 2001
Dead Poets Society is a thoroughly moving, and inspiring film from Peter Weir, who is definitely one of the most under rated directors around. This movie is in the same vein as "A Separate Peace", in the sense of setting, and in the general coming of age story line. The basic message is to "suck the marrow out of life", as the passage for the society reads, or to live every moment to the fullest. It is inspiring and uplifting for the first hour and 15 minutes or so, before changing stride altogether to a somewhat depressing but remarkable conclusion. This is a must see.
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Includes a short inspired poem. Your verse.
BluebirdSeventeen24 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Swim against the stream

What this film did for me? I found myself 'standing up on that desk' to remind myself that I should be constantly viewing the world with new perspective.

A magical film, and despite it being made in 1989, still completely and maybe even more relevant to today's society. In a world of mass conformity, largely created by social media and smart phone technology, especially among the young and teenagers, it is ever more important to be inspired by and pursue what this film teaches us.

We need to find our own voice among the crowd. Make your life extraordinary.

It renews, inspires and restores a feeling of passion for words, poems, literature and life! Passion for learning and excelling / expressing ourselves. Keeping your eyes open, looking backwards and forwards, never down. Life is not 1 dimensional. Life is about expression; expressing those many layers and dimensions which make up the fabric of life. This film completely encompasses that sentiment. Striving to find your own voice. Finding words and meanings to best depict the inner workings of your life and mind.

"We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

You can learn a lot from this movie. In society/ schools nowadays we are constantly being bombarded - told how to do things, why, and what they mean. we are filling up our brains with junk yet we have a world of knowledge, quite literally, right at our fingertips. Yet have we lost a sense of curiosity? Have we stopped asking why?

My favourite scene was the one in the dormitory room, when the boys are playing, jumping across beds and desks, chasing each other round the room, round and round in circles. I think the directing and camera work is fantastic here, with the camera positioned in the middle of the room shooting upwards and following the boys in a rather dizzying way - it completely encompasses the ultimate freedom and spirit of the film.

Powerful directing. Magical visuals- autumnal lake scenes and old New England buildings. Dead poets society made me both laugh and cry a lot. Almost a therapeutically good movie. It will stay with me for a long time to come. Robin Williams was wonderful too. RIP.

10 out of 10 and I want to watch it again already.

Remember you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?

Oh, one extra thing.

Here is my inspired 5 min poem:

Your verse?

Quick fast tick tock, Skim swipe tick tock, Glowing face tick tock, Head down tick tock, Marching stomp tick tock.

Each day tick tock Faced with a question tick tock, Your verse tick tock, Two roads tick tock, Diverging

Follow your path tick tock, Open your eyes tick tock, Face the world tick tock, Seize the day tick tock, Listen

One day tick tock, Lie with the daffodils. Food for the worms. Forever, Tick. Tock.

Thank you for reading my short verse. Post a reply in the message boards if you too felt inspired.

(Oh also I'm not claiming to be Tennyson here....just an enjoyable way to spend a Sunday morning reflecting on this wonderful film I watched last night. Think of those boys at the front of the class before you choose tear it apart! :-) )
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Make Your Lives Extraordinary
So today is August 12th and news has broken of Robin Williams' untimely death. I just felt compelled to review my favourite movie of his. On a rainy day back in 1980- something, my mother sat my brother, sister and me down and put on the movie, Dead Poets Society. Little did I know what a profound impact that movie, and its characters would have on me. The film is bursting with quotable material, and my siblings and I quote it to this day: O Captain My Captain, Carpe Diem, Seize the Day, and of course, Make Your Lives Extraordinary. It's not until we grow older that we can look back on a teacher like John Keating and see what he really meant to us, the chances he made us take, the way he made us feel alive. I look back now on Robin Williams' performance and see one of the most flawless performances of all time. When you watch the movie, it's hard to think of hammy, manic Robin Williams giving such a nuanced and subtle performance. It's almost as though Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting is who John Keating became. And funny how his most subtle performances may be the ones he's most remembered for. When I heard the news of Robin's death, I was taken back to this film and really felt how integral this movie actually was to my childhood. I think it was the first time my 10 year old self was truly "moved" in the way that adults can be moved by art. All I can say is watch this movie. You won't be sorry.
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A fantastic representation of belief and individualism
tats2duhmax31 December 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Dead Poets Society was a movie that took some in depth realization. Robin Williams did a fantastic job depicting individualism and how to walk on your own. He realized that these young men were going to be shaped in either a bad way or could shape themselves into the type of men they wanted to become.Sure, everyone around them were jerks and stiffs but that is the environment of the school. People just didn't go up against all odds, and everything was OK. That is exactly what Dead Poets Society was showing. Even though there were consequences to the boys being inspired and re-forming "Dead Poets Society" they still learned to march to their own drummer. They could be boys and go for their own dreams and ambitions. This movie showed Williams in a different light and i have so much respect for his character. He believed enough in these boys to loose his job. Standing on desks may not make everything better, but it shows the real meaning of the movie. These boys had been taught to conform and put their beliefs aside, but Williams opened up their hearts and made a lot of people, whether they liked it or not, realize that tradition is not always the way to push your children. If all you can look at is the expression on Neil Perrys fathers face, when he realized what his son had done, then you really didn't get the point. This was not Mr. Perrys life, and Williams knew that and was not about to cover up Neils dreams and tell him exactly the opposite of what he had been teaching him all along. Dead Poets Society was an unbelievable movie that showed how this teacher believed so much in his students, that it changed their lives.
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poetry can change you
milagros9819 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I saw it only yesterday. Of course I had heard of it, I had been thinking of watching it one day. Well, this day was yesterday.

To be honest, I expected it to be something light and pretty positive, I couldn't foresee any drama coming, I could have but I didn't.

This school is a good example of our educational system, where we are taught to obey the rules, do what we are told to, be like robots. This movie was shot in 1989, but not that much has changed since then. Open the page, read what is written there, sit straight, listen to the teacher, no talking, no fun.

And then there's this new inspirational teacher Mr. John Keating who teaches his students to believe in themselves, to try new things, to love poetry. He is an amazing teacher, the one most students would want to have, but of course too great and a bit of an outsider in this boring and traditional school. He doesn't tell the students what to do, he doesn't give advice, he just helps them release their spirit of freedom, leave their comfort zone and try new things. And the students love him, look up to him, trust him.

And then in the end he is the one who gets punished. Not Neil's father who couldn't even be honest to himself and admit what he had done to his son. And the school didn't need the truth, neither did the other parents. They all seemed soulless and heartless.

I did love the last scene. It was honest and brave. And it showed that Mr. Keating had changed these boys, had made them stronger and better people.
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Words and ideas can change the world
BlueRoseNya15 September 2014
Dead Poets Society was one of my favourite movies when I was about 12 years old. It was a long time ago since I'd last seen it and I kinda expected it to have lost something over the years. Not true at all. The story's message still very much applies today and always will: make something of your life, enjoy it as much as you can.

When you watch this beautifully acted, directed and well shot film, you can't help but be genuinely be seized by emotion. Several scenes are stunning, yet it never gets sentimental and stays sincere throughout the whole film.

Because he was such a fantastic emotional actor, Robin Williams was the perfect choice to play John Keating, an original English teacher who wants his students to think for themselves, not only about poetry but also about life itself. If there'd be a John Keating in every school, the world might just become a little more interesting.

Definitely a must-see classic.
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FernAshes5 April 2003
I'm impressed. It was an all around good film. Perhaps I'm biased - Robert Frost's poem, A Road Not Taken, was quoted - yet so many other things were as well.

It's not about poetry. It's about how you look at the world. How you look, how others look... how you think, how you feel... and a warning to never, ever become conformist (though being conformist about walking is perhaps slightly exaggerated). Never become conformist - always make up your own mind.

I liked the music, as well. The bag pipes give a certain special touch.

I gave it an 8/10 - a high score for me.
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Walt Whitman Weeps
tieman6417 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect." - Mark Twain

The "teaching genre". Typically these films deify heroic teachers whose classrooms are havens at odds with the conformity or mediocrity that plagues the rest of the institution. In this regard, these films merely take familiar stories about admirable loners and nonconformists and place them in an educational setting in which the school milieu is fairly incidental.

Films like "Stand and Deliver", "Dead Poets Society", "Mr Holland's Opus", "To Sir, with Love", "Dangerous Minds", "Coach Carter", "Mona Lisa Smile", "Music of the Heart", "Blackboard Jungle", "School of Rock", "Little Man Tate", "Dangerous Minds", "Freedom Writers", "Pay It Forward" etc etc all follow the same narrative progression, the inspirational white/black teacher moving to a school where he/she is forced to deal with various problems (racial tensions, student apathy, learning difficulties and institutional barriers), all of which he/she solves by delivering inspirational messages in offbeat ways.

Very few "teaching films" deviate from this formula. Some of the best that do are perhaps Frederick Wiseman's "High School", "High School 2" and "State Legislature", Laurent Cantet's "The Class", Nick Ray's "Bigger Than Life", Olivier's "Term of Trial", 2002's "To Be and To Have", and "The Prime of Mrs Jean Brodie", with Maggie Smith. For the most part, though, cinema has failed to produce many interesting "teaching movies".

And so "Dead Poets" is another mushy "teacher flick" which advocates "independence" and "non conformity" by sticking to a very generic and clichéd movie formula. Here, the maverick teacher is played by Robin Williams, a wacky guy who inspires his band of students to "seize the day" and "chase their dreams".

The film was directed by Peter Weir, and so it has a certain classiness which, at first glance, seems to differentiate it from the pack; it's low-key at times, well acted and beautifully shot. It's only during "Poet's" last half hour that we realise how much we've been conned. And so as Weir's plot draws toward a typical "I am Spartacus!" ending (you'll know it when you see it), we begin to grasp how goofy the picture really is, the film populated by one dimensional adults, villainous kids, ridiculously stuck-up parents and a plot which reduces the art of poetry to a couple selectively chosen one liners, all designed to illicit "rebelliousness" and "non conformity".

So serious is the film in its message, that it even has one kid commit suicide because he is unable to break free of his father's wishes. In other words, conformity literally kills, physically as well as spiritually. This is a worthwhile message, but the film is so conventionally manipulative in its final half, that all power quickly fizzles out.

For a film which pretends to profess a love for poetry, you might even call this flick anti-poetry. Early in the film, Robin Williams draws a graph on a blackboard which he says is used to "measure the worth of a poem". On one axis of the graph is a poem's "importance" or "depth", on the other axis of the graph its "perfection" or "technique", the implication being that a work of art which succeeds on both axes, or very highly on one, is discernibly "better" than others. Williams then erases this graph and orders his pupils to tear it out of their textbooks. You cannot measure the objective worth of art, he says, only what that art means to you personally.

Later, one kid who spends hours and hours toiling over his poems, discarding them all because he doesn't think them any good, is put in front of the classroom and told to "let go" and "just say what comes into your head". Suddenly he becomes like all the other students in the film, able to magically and whimsically create great poetry. What the film is advocating is not some kind of objectively great poetry, which artists strive for and toil to create, but misusing poetry as a metaphor for a kind of whimsical freedom of expression; nothing matters other than your own subjective feelings and opinions. Nothing matters, other than you conforming to your desires, embracing your right to free speech and impulsively doing and saying what you want at any particular moment. This isn't poetry, this isn't artistic expression, it's just a kind of self-obsessed, narcissistic, rash impulsiveness.

Now look at all the things the students in the film use poetry to achieve. It's all sex, girls, dancing or throwing things away. Very simple, egotistical, hedonistic or impulsive things. Children and people with bipolar disorder have been shown to act with more impulsivity than other people. Artists, of course, are themselves often described as being childish (or possessing a child's imagination) and are more prone to being bipolar. What the film is unconsciously doing is tapping into the whole "artist as free" and "art as childish impulsiveness" cliché, without marrying it to anything truly substantial.

The limits of this approach are best observed in the film's final scenes. The young artists are given the chance to save their teacher, but instead choose to save themselves. They've never been taught, through poetry or art, to really stand up for anything of value external to themselves. Only later, when their teacher is kicked out of school, do they impulsively stand on their desks and show him support. But of course now it's a wasted gesture.

Significantly, the one kid who "stands up" in defence of his teacher is the one kid who was serious about poetry and seemed sceptical of William's character. His act of "standing up" is the only true act of rebellion in the film, the artist putting himself on the line, standing up for something worthwhile. Weir completely misses the implications of this.

7.9/10 Generic. Worth one viewing. See "If" and "The Magdalene Sisters".
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Good film damaged by melodrama/heavy-handedness
Hancock_the_Superb3 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
At the exclusive Weldon Academy in post-WWII New England, boys are expected to go to school, grow up, conform, survive school, and contribute to society. But along comes Mr. Keating (Robin Williams), a flamboyant teacher who thinks that school should teach students how to live their own lives, and he teaches a most unconventional class, getting the students to love and celebrate poetry and the arts. Unfortunately, one of his students, Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), has his dreams of being an actor shot down by his overprotective father (Kurtwood Smith), and is driven to suicide - leading to the inevitable showdown between the teacher and the school.

Sound familiar? Yes, this is a pretty clichéd plot, especially twenty years later; the setting and characters are right out of "A Separate Peace", a similarly overwrought novel about conformity vs. individualism at a private school, and about five hundred other movies and novels. Pretty much any high school/college student, and even most adults, could probably appreciate its moral: be yourself and go against the grain if necessary. The story does get some mileage out of this fact; a lot of what it gets right is also due to the fine cast, particularly Robin Williams. But overall, the film is a mixed-bag at best; not ruined, but certainly hampered by the heavy-handed way in which its issues are handled.

The film excels in period detail, and director Peter Weir deserves credit for being able to create an oppressive tone in the scenes at the academy; except, of course, the brilliantly lit classroom of Mr. Keating. The '50s were a time of conformity, a decade in which individuality was muted in favor of community, and so setting the film in that time period adds additional resonance to the story.

However, "Dead Poet's Society" stumbles occasionally, and its inclusion of predictable melodrama dampens its effect somewhat. The romance between student Knox (Josh Charles) and a local girl (Lara Flynn Boyle) seems tacked on and adds nothing to the story. The relationship between Neil and his parents is somewhat forced and obvious, and his lengthy suicide sequence is overlong and lacks the emotional power it could have had. And the film really sputters in its ridiculous anti-climax; nothing is resolved, but hey, I guess you could consider it a happy ending.

What makes the film watchable more than anything else are the performances. Robin Williams gives one of his first serious performances, and he is remarkable as Keating. We can clearly see how the character is inspiring and why the students take to him so quickly; he is a man who believes what he says, loves life, and overall stands in sharp contrast to those around him. Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Josh Charles all turn in fine performances as the most notable of the students, and Kurtwood Smith is excellent as Neil's domineering father. Even when the character relationships don't quite work, the performances are able to make them credible.

"Dead Poet's Society" is a film that contains some memorable scenes, an excellent cast, and an excellent moral to inspire teenagers struggling to find their place in the world. It's easy to see, due to these elements, why it is considered to be a classic by so many people. However, the film has many negative aspects that cannot be ignored, and I can't say that "Dead Poet's Society" is one of my favorites.

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taratua18 April 2017
This film ends up on top 10 and 100 lists so often that I think many people (me included!) have a tendency to overlook it and think of it as composed only of those key visual scenes, a story told in fragments of the familiar. Rewatching it recently, however, I was reminded of how brilliant Robin Williams' performance is and how effectively the viewer is also drawn into the group, another member of the secret society, another person holding something important close and willing to defend it. A true classic.
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Oh Captain! My Captain!
spykers-fzr21 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Dead Poets Society is not just a movie. It's a 128 minutes of pure magic and by the time the story reaches it's end, you will end up learning something really important : "Seize the day, because the day doesn't stand still".

The movie was one of the most iconic piece of work of the late Robin Williams. Robin Williams knew how to make others happy. How to make them smile. How to inspire them. As John Keating(an English teacher), he made his students realized that one of the biggest secrets of a happy life is to follow your heart.

Dead Poets Society explores the possibility of following your dreams. It tells us that it is not mandatory to be a part of the rat race. It teaches us that people around you will make you feel ordinary everyday so that you doesn't take the risk but you should do what's best for you. It teaches us that once we are out of our comfort zones, we discover the truth about ourselves which might help us in realizing our dream.

The movie is a "must-watch" for everyone. Not just the students(they need it more than others though) but also for all those people who are finding it hard to discover their objectives. It's for those who are struggling because of certain norms of the society which are holding them back. The moment you start doing something different, is the moment when you start creating history.

Watch it and feel rejuvenated. 8/10
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A celebration of Individualism !
what3v3r25 September 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In a sense, this movie was indeed the celebration of Dead Poets the world over!

Dead Poets Society! I am guessing a large number of you, like me, were expecting a bunch of spooky irregular events at the mutter of that name. Certainly wasn't to be, it is an inspirational odyssey which will make you pounce upon time and reclaim your life. Carpe Diem and the spirit that John Keating (played by Robin Williams) stands for could easily be misinterpreted by the turn of events in the movie, especially Neils poignant death. To do so is to completely miss the point. The spirit of Carpe Diem lies in the painstaking eventualities which one will have to brave to follow the lead of passion and fervour.

Robin Williams plays a professor of poetry, John Keating at the prestigious Welton School, with a management making sufficient hay with the schools continual academic shine. His particularly unorthodox methods of teaching soon make one realize that poetry is not something to do with rhyming words or fantasy lands, but that poetry is in effect a direct means to ones disposition in life, a disposition which would ring success in all avenues. His students soon change their very outlook towards life indulging in activities much to the displeasure of the academically unbending deans of the school. Harvesting discontent against Keating, the deans soon latch on to the one opportunity(or mis-opportunity I must say) that comes their way in the form of Neils death to see the removal of Keating from the school and the teaching profession.

The last few minutes celebrate every individualistic spirit to let you segue into a illusive reality. A young Ethan Hawke playing an even younger student redeems his professors every drop of sweat with "Oh Captain! My Captain!" . Watch the movie and you will see why! At least for half an hour after I watched this movie, I managed to drive mans favorite cliché "Life Sucks!" into oblivion. I suppose the students at Welton were not the only ones Professor John Keating inspired.
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just a few opinions
tibman21 September 2005
First of all, I would like to say that my English is not that good, but I think I can make myself understandable.

This movie made a big impression on me, I saw it for the first time, I think just 2 years ago, I did not heard about this movie before.

One of my favorite actors is Mr. Robin Williams and his playing his part here, as usual perfect.

I totally agree with the one message of the movie, that parents should not put so much pressure on their children and let them take their own decisions.

I like poetry as well and one of my favorite moments in the movie is when the character Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) has to tell his poem in front of the class but he has none and is challenged from his teacher to improvise.... The result is for me one of the most beautiful things I ever heard.

So let's end my "comment".

This movie is one of the "best ever made"!
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Seize the Day, Make Your Life Extraordinary
cutehershey3 November 2007
Dead Poets Society is one of the few films that are hard to forget once watched. This film is an influential film that is capable of changing how we see reality and life. It's about an extraordinary English teacher named John Keating, who uses unique ways through literature and poetry, to teach his students about life. He once said in the film, "We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering – these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love – these are what we stay alive for." The film was opened in a well known prestigious Welton Academy which was an all-boys prep school. The school was popular for its four principles: tradition, honor, discipline and excellence. There was a group of friends which was consisted of: Neil Perry, Todd Anderson, Knox Overstreet, Charlie Dalton, Richard Cameron, Steven Meeks and Gerard Pitts.

Neil Perry was a student that excelled in many subjects in school. He did everything that his father wanted him to do. When Mr. Keating told him to seize the day and to live an extraordinary life, he defied his father's wishes. He followed his dream, acting on stage, which was not approved by his father. He was pulled out of the school. He wanted to tell his father his own decisions but, he did not succeed and opted to commit suicide using his father's gun.

Todd Anderson was a shy boy. He had an older brother who also studied on the same school. That's why he needed to live up to his reputation. He also thought that everything inside of him is worthless and embarrassing. Mr. Keating proved him wrong, he told him that he knew that something inside him was worth a great deal. And from that day on, his life was heavily influenced and changed.

Knox Overstreet was a persistent guy. He met a girl named Chris and instantly fell in love with her. He desired to see her after their first encounter. Later on, he realized that Chris already had a boyfriend. Yet he persisted in courting her. He didn't care if he gets punched or humiliated. He used poetry in wooing Chris. He even said "She's gonna hate me. The Danburrys will hate me. My parents will kill me. All right, goddamn it. You're right. Carpe diem. Even if it kills me." Charlie Dalton was a rebel and a dare devil. He did anything that pleased him. He once took his personal freedom too far and published an article that proposed girls to be allowed at Welton to give the boys some pleasure. The authorities learnt of it and interrogated Charlie. Charlie told them that he acted alone. Later in the story, he changed his name to Newanda.

John Keating is an extraordinary teacher. He used unusual teaching methods that any other ordinary teachers won't approve of. He taught outside the classroom, tried different approaches and ensured that it was not boring. He hated the idea of learning literature by doing scales of quality and popularity ratings. Instead, he ensured that his students learned to stretch their minds, to think for themselves and to exercise their own rights to defy acts of love for literature and life. He simply was a one of a kind and an amazing teacher.

One of the things that John Keating emphasized was "Carpe Diem" which meant seize the day, make your lives extraordinary. He showed his students a picture of former Welton students in a trophy case. He explained that they were once like them. Each one of them was full of their own hopes and dreams. Only they themselves knew if they made their lives extraordinary since these alumni are now dead.

This made the group of friends revive an old literary club called the Dead Poets Society. Neil Perry once read "I went to the woods to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, and not when I came to die, that I had not lived." This simply tells us that being a member of the Dead Poets Society meant that they have decided that they won't be held as captives by their fathers or anyone else anymore. They will decide on their own and do thing that they want to do. Nobody can stop them, not even death. What matters is that they followed their own paths. This would be the only way for them to experience everything that life has to offer; everything that they had not experienced when they were enslaved from their parent's expectations and other people's standards. And when death swallows them up, they can say that they had truly lived an extraordinary life. They had seized the days.
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one of the most amazing and uplifting movie experiences that I had ever had
VoyagerSamfan8720 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Dead Poets Society is hands down one of the most powerful and upfliting movies that I have seen-and trust me I have seen many powerful movies. This is one of Robin Williams finest performances-I do believe he should have been at least nominated for best actor and either the guy who plays Neil or Ethan Hawk should have been nominated for best supporting actor.The frindships that are forged in the school are genuine and believable and the people are those that you can relate to. I myself can relate to Todd, shy and a bit insecure of who he is. John Keating-played by Robin Williams-is a teacher who believes in more then just teaching about whats in the books, he believes in teaching about *life* and seazing the day. This movie shows how important it is to live each day to your fullest and to follow your dreams. I have seen many powerful films, and Dead Poets Society is one of the most powerful films I have ever seen. It captures the essance of what a film should to do a person. It shows a different view of life and makes you question things. It brings tears in your eyes as well as laughter. Even though I get emotional during films very rarly do I cry in them, but I did cry during the end of the movie with what happened to Neil and Keating. The ending to this day had a powerful effect on me and not many movies has an effect on you to the point where you get emotional and uplifted just thinking about the movie. It is a movie where you would watch many times and each time find something new with it. It is by far one of the most amazing and uplifting movie experiences that I have ever had.
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