Title – Dead Poets Society (1989)
Director – Peter Weir (Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World)
Cast – Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, Kurtwood Smith
Plot – In the late 1950’s, students at Welton Academy for boys are energized and inspired by the teachings of their English and poetry teacher John Keating (Williams), whose unorthodox methods have a profound effect on the boys in their school lives and outside lives also.
“There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for”
Review by Eddie on 18/10/2018
A film that’s reputation speaks for itself, Dead Poets Society played an important part in many Gen X’s lives as an experience that was inspirational and relatable, as well as a call to action to “seize the day”.
Beloved by many through the year’s since its release in 1989, Australian director Peter Weir’s Oscar nominated and well-renowned boy school drama holds up well these near 30 years on from its initial release thanks to Weir’s carefully constructed direction, the performance of the late Robin Williams and the world class script by Tom Schulman.
Telling the story of a group of teenage boys enrolled in the traditional and up-market Welton Academy private school in the late 1950’s, who find themselves embracing life in new ways and looking at the world differently thanks to the teachings of their against the grain poetry teacher John Keating, Poets may lay hold to some slightly cheesy cinematic situations but so important is its messaging and well-meaning intentions, that this matters very little in the grand scheme of things.
Led by one of William’s best acting turns, a turn that also reigns in the energetic comic’s sensibilities to great effect while also allowing him brief moments of comedic flourish’s and eccentricities, Poets also lays hold to some brilliantly realised turns from its young cast members that includes a young Ethan Hawke and some powerful turns from young performers Robert Sean Leonard as Neill Perry and Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet in particular.
It’s a testament to Weir’s skill as a director that he turns a seemingly simplistic story into something more and while its arguable that not a lot ends up happening through the duration of Poets runtime, it’s hard not to be affected by its look at adolescence and finding one’s self and purpose in the world thanks to Weir’s handling of the material that he never allows his tale to go full Hallmark, marking the films emotionally powerful moments all the more memorable.
It’s unlikely we would get a film like Poets made today but that matters little thanks to Weir, Williams and the young cast (many of whom sadly never went on to deliver much acting wise outside of Hawke) who help make Poets a timeless film that gifts us one of the most instantly likeable and inspiring creations in the form of the kind-hearted Keating.
Final Say –
An important part of cinematic history that features many a classic scene, Dead Poets Society may not be a flawless piece of filmmaking but with its heart in the right place and an inspirational life message at its core, Weir’s film is deserving of its highly regarded reputation and remains a timeless coming of age tale.
4 ripped book pages out of 5