Dead Poets Society
|Dead Poets Society|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Peter Weir|
|Produced by||Steven Haft
Paul Junger Witt
|Written by||Tom Schulman|
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||William M. Anderson|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Running time||128 minutes|
Dead Poets Society is a 1989 American drama film directed by Peter Weir and starring Robin Williams. Set at the conservative and aristocratic Welton Academy in the northeast United States in 1959, it tells the story of an English teacher who inspires his students through his teaching of poetry. The film was critically acclaimed and was nominated for numerous awards.
Shy Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) begins his senior year of high school at Welton Academy, an elite prep school, whose four Pillars of wisdom are "tradition, honor, discipline, excellence". He is assigned one of Welton's most promising students, Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), as his roommate and is quickly accepted by Neil's friends: calm Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles), overachiever Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman), best friends Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero) and Gerard Pitts (James Waterston), and beatnik Charlie Dalton (Gale Hansen).
On the first day of classes, they are surprised by the unorthodox teaching methods of their new English teacher, Welton alumnus John Keating (Robin Williams), who encourages his students to call him Captain, in reference to the Walt Whitman poem "O Captain! My Captain!", and to "make your lives extraordinary", a sentiment he summarizes with the Latin expression carpe diem. In subsequent lessons, he stands on his desk to teach the boys how they must look at life in a different way, tells them to rip out the introduction of their poetry books which explains a mathematical formula used for rating poetry, and has them make up their own style of walking in a courtyard to encourage them to be individuals. His methods quickly attract the attention of the Headmaster, Mr. Nolan.
Upon learning that Keating was a member of the unsanctioned group the Dead Poets' Society while he was at Welton, Neil restarts the club and he and his friends sneak off campus at night to a cave where they read poetry and verse written by Henry David Thoreau, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and each other. Eventually they let "poetry work its magic" and become swept up in their own emotions. As the school year progresses, Keating's lessons and their involvement with the Dead Poets' Society, encourage them to live their lives on their own terms. Knox pursues the beautiful Chris Noel, a girl who is dating a Welton drop out and bully, whose family is friends with his. Neil discovers his love of acting and gets the main part in a local production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, despite the fact that his domineering father (Kurtwood Smith) wants to force him to go to medical school and plan his life for him. Keating also helps Todd come out of his shell and realize his potential, when he takes him through an exercise in self-expression, resulting in his composing a poem spontaneously in front of the class.
Charlie, however, takes the inspiration and Keating's teachings too far, announcing that he will swear off his given name in favor of being called Nuwanda, publishing an article in the school newspaper in the name of the Dead Poets Society which demands that girls be admitted to Welton, and faking a phone call from God in a school assembly. Nolan uses corporal punishment to force Charlie to tell him who else is in the the Dead Poets Society, but he refuses. Nolan also speaks to Keating, warning him that boys at their age "are very impressionable" and that he should discourage them from thinking for themselves.
Neil's father discovers Neil's involvement in the play and forces him to quit on the eve of the opening performance. Devastated, Neil seeks Keating's advice. Keating advises him to stand his ground and prove to his father that his love of acting is something he takes seriously. Neil does so and reports back that he thinks his father will let him pursue an acting career provided that he keeps up with his schoolwork. He discovers he is wrong when his father unexpectedly shows up at the performance. He takes him home and tells him he is forcing him into military school so he can eventually go to Harvard University. That night, Neil commits suicide in his father's office.
Nolan begins an investigation into what caused Neil's death, at the request of the Perry family. Cameron goes to him, blames Neil's death on Keating to escape punishment for his own participation in the Dead Poets Society, and names Knox, Meeks, Pitts, Todd, Neil, and Charlie as the other members. Later, confronted by Charlie, Cameron admits that he "finked", making Keating the scapegoat, and urges the rest of them to let Keating take the fall. Charlie punches Cameron and is later expelled. Each of the boys is called to Nolan's office to sign a letter attesting to the truth of Cameron's allegations, even though they know they are false. When Todd's turn comes, he initially is reluctant to sign, but seeing that the others have complied, does so. Keating is fired.
Nolan takes over teaching Keating's class and signals a reversal of Keating's lessons when he praises the poetry rating method described in the textbook introduction which Keating had the class rip out of their books. Keating interrupts the class to collect some personal articles and before he leaves, Todd shouts that all of them were forced to sign the letter that resulted in his dismissal and that Neil's death wasn't his fault. Nolan makes Keating leave, but before he can do so, Todd stands on his desk and salutes Keating with the words "O' Captain, My Captain." Knox, Meeks, Pitts, and several other students do the same, despite Nolan's threats to expel all of them. Keating thanks the boys.
- Robin Williams as John Keating
- Robert Sean Leonard as Neil Perry
- Ethan Hawke as Todd Anderson
- Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet
- Gale Hansen as Charlie Dalton
- Norman Lloyd as Headmaster Gale Nolan
- Kurtwood Smith as Mr. Perry
- Dylan Kussman as Richard Cameron
- James Waterston as Gerard Pitts
- Allelon Ruggiero as Stephen Meeks
- Leon Pownall as McAllister
- Alexandra Powers as Chris Noel
- Kevin Cooney as Joe Danburry
- Welker White as Tina
- Debra Mooney as Mrs. Anderson
- George Martin as Dr. Hager
The critical reaction to this film has been favorable; it received positive reviews from 85% of critics cited by Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a weighted average score of 79 out of 100 from 14 mainstream critics registered on Metacritic.
The Washington Post reviewer called it "solid, smart entertainment", and praised Robin Williams for giving a "nicely restrained acting performance". Vincent Canby of The New York Times also praised Williams' "exceptionally fine performance", while noting that "Dead Poets Society... is far less about Keating than about a handful of impressionable boys". Pauline Kael was unconvinced by the film, and its 'middlebrow highmindedness', but praised Williams. "Robin Williams' performance is more graceful than anything he's done before [-] he's totally, concentratedly there - [he] reads his lines stunningly, and when he mimics various actors reciting Shakespeare there's no undue clowning in it; he's a gifted teacher demonstrating his skills."
Roger Ebert's review was mixed, two out of four stars. He criticized Williams for spoiling an otherwise creditable dramatic performance by occasionally veering into his onstage comedian's persona, and lamented that for a movie set in the 1950s there was no mention of the Beat Generation writers. Additionally, Ebert described the film as an often poorly constructed "collection of pious platitudes [...] The movie pays lip service to qualities and values that, on the evidence of the screenplay itself, it is cheerfully willing to abandon."
Awards and nominations
Dead Poets Society won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (Tom Schulman). Peter Weir received a nomination for Best Director and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture of 1989. Robin Williams received his second Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination and it has since been widely recognized as one of the actor/comedian's best roles. It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film.
The film's line "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." was voted as the 95th greatest movie quote by the American Film Institute. Also, the film was voted #52 on the AFI's 100 Years…100 Cheers list, a list of the top 100 most inspiring films of all time.
- Academy Awards (USA) 1990
- BAFTA Awards (UK) 1989
- Won: Best Film
- Won: Best Original Film Score (Maurice Jarre)
- Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robin Williams)
- Nominated: Best Achievement in Direction (Peter Weir)
- Nominated: Best Editing (William Anderson)
- Nominated: Best Original Screenplay (Tom Schulman)
- Directors Guild of America (USA)
- Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Peter Weir)
- Golden Globe Awards (USA)
- Nominated: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Robin Williams)
- Nominated: Best Director – Motion Picture (Peter Weir)
- Nominated: Best Motion Picture – Drama
- Nominated: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Tom Schulman)
- "DEAD POETS SOCIETY (PG)". Warner Bros. British Board of Film Classification. July 27, 1989. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
- "Dead Poets Society (1989) – Box Office Mojo". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- Canby, Vincent (June 2, 1989). "Dead Poets Society (1989) June 2, 1989 Review/Film; Shaking Up a Boys' School With Poetry". The New York Times. Retrieved November 8, 2011.
- "Dead Poets Society Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- "Dead Poets Society reviews at Metacritic.com". Metacritic. Retrieved January 25, 2010.
- Howe, Desson (June 9, 1989). "'Dead Poets Society'". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- Pauline Kael, Movie Love, pp. 153-157, reprinted from review that appeared in The New Yorker, June 26, 1989
- Ebert, Roger (June 9, 1989). "Dead Poets Society". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
- American Film Institute. "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 MOVIE QUOTES". Afi.com. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
- American Film Institute. "AFI's 100 YEARS...100 CHEERS". Afi.com. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
- "Nominees & Winners for the 62nd Academy Awards". Oscars.org. Retrieved November 17, 2010.
- "Awards Database". Bafta.org. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
- Crazy Dave. "Dead Poets Society". Peterweircave.com. Retrieved 2014-08-13.
- Ente David di Donatello – Accademia del Cinema Italiano[dead link]
- "Welcome to the Directors Guild of America". Dga.org. Retrieved November 27, 2010.[dead link]
- HFPA – Awards Search[dead link]
- Mathews, Jack; Easton, Nina J. (February 9, 1990). "Some Surprises in WGA Nominees, Shutouts : Film: 'Baker Boys,' 'My Left Foot' are dark-horse nominees for Writers Guild awards; non-union 'Do the Right Thing,' 'Drugstore Cowb...". Los Angeles Times.
- Further reading
- Munaretto, Stefan (2005). Erläuterungen zu Nancy H. Kleinbaum/Peter Weir, 'Der Club der toten Dichter' (in German). Hollfeld: Bange. ISBN 3-8044-1817-1.
|Wikiquote has quotations related to: Dead Poets Society|
- Dead Poets Society at the Internet Movie Database
- Dead Poets Society at Box Office Mojo
- Dead Poets Society at Rotten Tomatoes
- Dead Poets Society at Metacritic
|Awards and achievements|
|César Award for Best Foreign Film
Toto the Hero (Toto le héros)