Dead Poets Society

Year: 1993
Directed By: Peter Weir
Written By: Tom Schulman

RYAN’S REVIEW

There is an episode of The Simpsons where someone suggests that this movie ruined an entire generation of teachers. I can say without doubt that the generation of teachers that they were talking about was the one I went through high school with.  I literally saw this movie four years in a row with four different English teachers at two different schools.  I don’t know that the movie actually ruined that generation but it did make them more annoying and a bit obvious in some cases.  I was very fond of a couple of those teachers though and my favorite one was in fact in full-blown Robin Williams mode. If there is a movie out there worthy of influencing so many educators I have to say it is this one.  The Professor Keating character was fantastic and he was the kind of teacher all of us would want to have. My teachers that emulated the character, one specifically, did challenge me more and I felt I responded better than I did to other teachers.

I think this is a great movie and it’s one that gives me a real nostalgic feeling from all those years watching it in high school.  Being one that I saw so frequently during my formative years it definitely had a big influence on me.  I sadly could not emulate Robin Williams as a teacher, I am way too straight laced in my professional life. I take my work very seriously, but regardless of that fact I lacked that kind of energy, that spirit like the one Williams sports in the film.  Robin Williams was so good in this role that he not only inspired his students in the film but he inspired us, in the audience.  At this point in his career Robin Williams was bursting with theatrics and entertainment (cocaine may or may not have been involved).  I thought he was great in this role and did a good job containing the louder part of his persona to play a more serious part.  I am a big fan of Robin Williams but his career has spun out of control in the last several years. Since he made his trio of psycho movies about ten years ago anyway. Something I usually like to tell people about Robin Williams is how he sang the song “Blame Canada” at the Academy Awards back in 2000.  The song “Blame Canada” from the movie South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut was actually nominated for an Academy Award and what might be even crazier than that was that it was scheduled to be performed during the ceremony. However, before the awards ceremony the woman who had recorded the song committed suicide.  I do not know why and I could be mistaken about that back story but Robin Williams sang the song in her place at the Academy Awards.  You can check it out on YouTube here. It will be a long time till we get to the South Park film on this blog, but I can’t wait. One of the funniest movies ever, and Robin Williams singing the song at the Oscars is awesome.

I like most of the actors that play the students who join the Dead Poets Society in this film, although most of them never did anything else in their careers.  Of course Robert Sean Leonard who plays Neil has been a character on the show House M.D. for several years now.  I have never watched the show but I think he did a good job in this film, he had one of the finest roles. Ethan Hawke has gone on to have some success but is usually sitting on the cusp of stardom and never quite getting there.  I am not really a fan of Hawke but I have liked some of his films, such as this one.  However, like in his other movies that I like, I think anybody else could have played the part just as well or better.  He does nothing to distinguish himself in any film that I can recall.  I think the guys who play the characters Charlie and Knox were both great too, but these guys especially didn’t do anything else worth mentioning.

This movie now reminds me both of being a student and being a teacher.  I think all teachers aspire to be beloved by their students like Keating, at least in the beginning of their careers.  We don’t have enough teachers out there that inspire their students enough and it’s not their fault.  Teaching is a hard job, the students are monsters, the work is relentless and never-ending, and at the end of the day you aren’t paid enough for what you do.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed, to get exhausted and frustrated, it happens to everybody in all aspects of life.  Many teachers lose sight of what got them started in the first place and sooner rather than later they are counting down the years to retirement.  Not all teachers are like this though. During my brief time teaching I had the opportunity to work with some really special teachers.  Men and women who work really hard for a bunch of monsters that don’t appreciate or care about anything. I appreciate and respect those people and considered it a privilege to have had the opportunity to work with them for that brief stint.

Given that I went so many rounds with this movie in English class I almost feel compelled to diverge into several elements of it but this post has already dragged on too long. There is a lot to be said about the relationship between Neil and his father, Neil’s ultimate and unfortunate decision in the end, and poetry in general, but that will have to wait till later. If you are still with me this deep into the post then I hope I have convinced you to see the film or at least to see it again if the opportunity presents itself.  This is a fantastic movie and I would recommend it to anyone, it is definitely worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Don’t we all just love this movie. Because, I know you have already seen it…right? Who hasn’t seen and fell in love with this movie? This movie is touching and uplifting. I think that we can all relate to the stories of teenagers that have difficult relationships with parents and the troubling life of high school. I imagine it would be even more of a struggle being a teenage boy who was forced to attend an all boys private school. In high school, I am sure we all remember that one teacher that made a difference in our lives. He or she probably believed in us when we thought nobody else or did something that we found extra special or noteworthy for our lives. Robin Williams is that teacher in this film. He provides an outlet for this group of young guys and helps to lead them into forming the Dead Poet’s Society.

This movie is really great. It has some amazing actors in it and plays out a really great story line. I completely recommend this film if for some reason you haven’t seen. “Oh Captain, My Captain!”

NEXT MOVIE: Death Proof (2007) 

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