Review 228: Dead Poets Society (1989)
The summer comes to a complete end this weekend. It was clear the film to watch needed to be inspirational about teaching. I’d never seen Dead Poets Society and with the anniversary of Robin Williams death having just passed it seemed appropriate. I knew I loved this film within a few minutes. Dead Poets Society earned the well deserved Must See rating.
John Keating (Robin Williams) is the new English teacher at Welton Academy. He inspires Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke), Niel Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), and some other boys in the class to look at life differently. Through poetry and some information about Keating’s time at the Welton, the boys resurrect a club built around living life to the fullest. The new dead poets resist the status quo of Welton and those in charge aren’t happy.
Ethan Hawke is so young in this film and it was cool to see. He does a great job as Todd Anderson who is a shy kid. He’s afraid to read in front of his peers, but even speaking in front of them seems challenging. Keating proves to Anderson that he can write poetry and speak in a very moving scene. I loved everything about that moment and the words Keating says, “Don’t you forget this.”
That sequence is powerful for anyone, but it especially hit me as a teacher. It’s clear how empowered Anderson feels and it’s all because Keating believed in him. It is what every good teacher hopes to achieve with their students. Find the spark that’s inside them and help them light it. The poem that Anderson spouts out off the top of his head is also about passion. The fear he has to follow those passions.
The kids in the film are fantastic
The comradery between the boys is refreshing. I really loved the friendship that evolves between Neil Perry, Todd Anderson, Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen), Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero), and Gerard Pitts (James Waterson). They’re united by teachings of Mr. Keating. The film puts the Dead Poets Society up against the institution of private education. The system “works” by beating out individuality and passions and putting them into practical, cookie-cutter positions. It’s Mr. Keating that inspires them to discover who they are and what they want.
I don’t think I could have picked a better movie to watch before school starts. I was feeling stressed out and overwhelmed before I started the film. Now, I feel incredibly inspired and motivated to start the school year. I teach to inspire passion. However, I write because it’s my passion. The movie challenge is my way of conquering my fear of putting myself out there. I want my students to find their passion and carpe diem!