Carpe Diem! Seize the day!
Not something encouraged by Welton Academy for boys. Not until John Keating joins the staff that is.
Keating (Robin Williams), himself a graduate of the Academy, encourages the students in his English lessons to think for themselves and realis that they are powerful people, regardless of what they have so far been told.
His unorthodox approach (standing on desks, walks through the corridors, tearing the introduction from books etc.) startle but enliven a small group of students. These activities also bring both students and Keating into conflict with the school authorities and the boys’ parents.
Tragedy is alas not far away as the culture clash is too much for the inexperienced young men. Especially so after they revive Keating’s own long gone “Dead Poets Society“, discussing and writing different poetry and different aspects of life than they would normally within the strict confines of the school.
Peter Weir‘s directing skills join all the characters into a complete narrative.
A wonderful Academy Award winning screenplay brought to life by what can only be described as beautiful acting, Dead Poets Society, like Glengarry Glen Ross, is a study of a particular way of life and in a lot of ways painful to watch.
The young actors are exceptional. Most notably Robert Sean Leonard as Neil who is firmly and strictly controlled by his father (another wonderful performance by Kurtwood Smith). Robin Williams performance is not the centre of this movie, rather the young men and their various troubles. The Keating role is a catalyst in this story and brings the movies two morals to the fore:
- think differently
- be your own man
Though there is humour, the tragic results of the clash between the traditionalists and non-conformists is what you take away. Where should the blame lie for these events?
Things to look out for: Robert Sean Leonard is exceptional, Kurtwood Smith plays the tough stern father well, the first of Mr Keating’s classes with the boys, tearing the poetry book introductions out, painful interrogations by the headmaster, the final act of defiance
Cast: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Norman Lloyd, Kurtwood Smith
Rating: tragic and moving story, very highly recommended