Directed By: Peter Weir
Written By: Tom Schulman
Staring: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawk, Robert Sean Leonard, Josn Charles, Gale Henson, Dylan Kussman, Allelon Ruggiero, James Waterston, Norman Lloyd, Kurtwood Smith, and Carla Belver
Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone. -John Keating
The mysteriously quiet Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawk) has been sent to a private school where his brother was once valedictorian. He is roomed with the ever popular and smart Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) who suffers the burden of a dictatorial father. The year begins with a new English teacher, who specializes in poetry. Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) is immediately regarded as unorthodox as he requires his class to remove the introduction of their books and throw them away. Though he may have been regarded as eccentric and peculiar, he catches the interest of many of the boys in class, especially Neil, and soon many of the boys are inspired by the implications poetry and freedom of expression that Keating has offered them. The idea to think for one self and be individuals affects each both differently and indefinitely.
Peter Weir beautifully paces the movie by setting up small beats where the seeds of Keating’s influence has been planted. It doesn’t happen all at once, but by the time the boys of the Dead Poets Society have become full blown free thinkers seeking to Carpe Diem through their lives, the story hits a tragic speed bump that sets up the final scene that the film is so known for.
Dead Poets Society is actually a quiet, subtly inspiring film that’s message while quite obvious, is shown in ways that it affects different people. But the film is anything but banal, thanks to Peter Weir’s marvelous directing and the standout performances of the members of the Dead Poets Society, Robert Sean Leonard in particular. Robin Williams plays his role as Keating low key, and allows his influence to mirror through the boys, rather than play the role in his usual over the top manner. It was a subtle and powerful performance.
Dead Poets Society may be about being an unconventional free thinker, but the poetic nature of the story is brimming with romance, the excitement of youth, and the forging of friendships and bonds that nothing can break. In the final scene when Todd Anderson finally finds his voice, tears sprung to my eyes, and helpless to fight them, poured down my cheeks.
“O Captain, my Captain.”
Dead Poets Society is a rare gem indeed.
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