“O Captain! My Captain!”, “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary,” these two dialogues are enough for movie buffs, to remember the Dead Poets Society, one of the greatest classic films made in 1989. The Peter Weir-directed film, starring late actor Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, and Robert Sean Leonard, has remained a most cherished one to this day.
The film revolves around a group of students, their life lessons, and their interactions with Williams, who plays John Keating. The film is set in a strict boys’ Welton Academy where subjects are taught in a systematic way using only textbooks and the curriculum. These students’ daily schedules prevent them from having the freedom to think freely. They must follow them, until one day the class is greeted by a new English teacher.
Keating is not just any teacher that you have come across in life. Yes, one would have wished to have a teacher like him. Unlike other teachers who go only by the academic curriculum, Keating’s passion for poetry inspires some of his students to seize the day and chase their dreams.
He tries to impart freedom to the boys who attend his class as he is fascinated by the emotion poetry evokes and the freedom of speech it stands for. He encourages students to rip out pages from their textbooks while standing on desks and challenges them to “make their lives extraordinary.” Gradually, the life of the students changes to a point where they are finally able to speak their minds.
Everything he says is a lesson that he wants his students to learn. Making your life extraordinary gives purpose to your existence that transcends textbooks and curriculum is what the film underlines.
Following certain events, the ‘Dead Poets Society,’ a secret society that Keating once led, is revived by his students. The students meet in an old cave and recite both well-known poems and their own. They start exploring their love for poetry and life. However, the situation doesn’t remain the same as soon as the students’ behaviour starts to conflict with the rules of the school and the boys’ parents.
Of course, Keating will undoubtedly encounter problems. The movie’s final scene is one of the best things you will ever see but I don’t want to ruin it for people who haven’t seen it yet.
The cast and direction do an exceptional part in making the film a successful and realistic one. The theme of creative thinking, friendship, respect, freedom etc. has a special place throughout the Dead Poets Society. It won the Academy Awards for Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for Screen in 1990.
I think this is the kind of movie that you could watch repeatedly and still get something new out of it, even if you know precisely what will happen and when.
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