Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society

4.4 52
Director: Peter Weir

Cast: Peter Weir, Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke

     
 

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Robin Williams toned down his usually manic comic approach in this successful period drama. In 1959, the Welton Academy is a staid but well-respected prep school where education is a pragmatic and rather dull affair. Several of the students, however, have their thoughts on the learning process (and life itself) changed when a new teacher comes to the school. John

Overview

Robin Williams toned down his usually manic comic approach in this successful period drama. In 1959, the Welton Academy is a staid but well-respected prep school where education is a pragmatic and rather dull affair. Several of the students, however, have their thoughts on the learning process (and life itself) changed when a new teacher comes to the school. John Keating (Williams) is an unconventional educator who tears chapters of his textbooks and asks his students to stand on their desks to see the world from a new angle. Keating introduces his students to poetry, and his free-thinking attitude and the liberating philosophies of the authors he introduces to his class have a profound effect on his students, especially Todd (Ethan Hawke), who would like to be a writer; Neil ( Robert Sean Leonard), who dreams of being an actor, despite the objections of his father; Knox (Josh Charles), a hopeless romantic; Steven (Allelon Ruggiero), an intellectual who learns to use his heart as well as his head; Charlie (Gale Hansen), who begins to lose his blasé attitude; unconventional Gerard (James Waterston); and practical Richard (Dylan Kussman). Keating urges his students to seize the day and live their lives boldly; but when this philosophy leads to an unexpected tragedy, headmaster Mr. Nolan (Norman Lloyd) fires Keating, and his students leap to his defense. Dead Poets Society was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor for Williams; it won one, for Tom Schulman's original screenplay.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Unconventionality and nonconformity are often desirable qualities, but attaining them occasionally carries some risk, especially when the society around you seems to value them insufficiently. That's the message of this earnest, uncompromising drama, which won the 1989 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and reminded viewers just how effective veteran funnyman Robin Williams could be when applying his considerable talents to a dramatic role. Under the direction of Peter Weir, Williams abandoned his sometimes annoying, hyperkinetic performance style to play iconoclastic English teacher John Keating, who labors overtime to fan the flames of creativity and freethinking in his New England prep school students, most of whom seem destined for Ivy League colleges and soul-deadening careers. Captivated by Keating's ebullience and enthusiasm, outgoing student Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) revives the aged school's secret club, the Dead Poets Society, and enlists among its members the deeply withdrawn Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke). The story is predictable up to a point, but it has a shattering climax that even today, more than 15 years after the film's theatrical release, retains the power to shock and dismay audiences. The young actors are uniformly excellent in their sharply drawn characters, and Kurtwood Smith is outstanding as Neil's domineering father, but it's Williams who makes this Society worth joining. The film soars whenever he's on camera, and even the most jaded home viewer will be moved by the influence his character wields over the impressionable students.

Product Details

Release Date:
01/17/2012
UPC:
0786936761481
Original Release:
1989
Rating:
PG
Source:
Touchstone / Disney
Region Code:
ABC
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Time:
2:09:00
Sales rank:
5,131

Special Features

"Dead Poets": A look back; Raw takes; Master of sound: Alan Spiet - interviews with David Lynch and Peter Weir; Cinematographer master class - an intensive and inspiration lighting workshop; Audio commentary with director Peter Weir, cinematographer John Seale and Academy Award-winning screenwriter Tom Schulman (1989, Best Original Screenplay); Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robin Williams John Keating
Robert Sean Leonard Neil Perry
Ethan Hawke Todd Anderson
Josh Charles Knox Overstreet
Gale Hansen Charlie Dalton
Dylan Kussman Richard Cameron
Allelon Ruggiero Steven Meeks
James Waterston Gerard Pitts
Norman Lloyd Mr. Nolan
Kurtwood Smith Mr. Perry
Carla Belver Mrs. Perry
Leon Pownall McAllister
Howard Feuer Actor
George Martin Dr. Hager
Joe Aufiery Chemistry Teacher
Kevin Cooney Joe Danburry
Jane Moore Mrs. Danburry
Lara Flynn Boyle Ginny Danburry
Alexandra Powers Chris Noel
Melora Walters Gloria
Welker White Tina
Alan Pottinger Bubba
John Cunningham Mr. Anderson
Debra Mooney Mrs. Anderson
Charles N. Lord Mr. Dalton

Technical Credits
Peter Weir Director
John Anderson Set Decoration/Design
William M. Anderson Editor
Howard Feuer Casting
Steven Haft Co-producer
Duncan Henderson Associate Producer
Maurice Jarre Score Composer
Marilyn Matthews Costumes/Costume Designer
Priscilla Nedd Editor
Tom Schulman Screenwriter
John Seale Cinematographer
Lee Smith Editor
Wendy Stites Production Designer
Tony Thomas Co-producer
Sandy Veneziano Art Director
Charles Wilborn Musical Direction/Supervision
Paul Junger Witt Co-producer

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4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the life lessons, compelling characters abound. Very good story. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is the most outstanding film I have seen, and I've seen some great films. Rober Sean Leonard's amazing performance astounds me every time I watch it. It's the best, and belongs in every film lover's collection.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although dramatically obvious in some respects, this movie was very well directed and acted. The various elements of conflict were established early on, and the tension they created held me in their grip through the denouement. Robin Williams plays the part of the ultimate romantic, the idealist. His love of poetry is so infectious that he inspires his students to reestablish his own Prep-School Secret Society after which the movie is titled. He wants his students to live life to its full, carpe diem, seize the day. His idealistic enthusiasm appeals to the romantic in all of us. However, the Roman proverb, when looked at in its entirety, shows the weakness in this excessively romantic approach to life: Carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero, ''seize the day, trusting as little as possible to what tomorrow may bring.'' Williams perhaps forgot that, while young people are impressionable, they can also be impractical in their application of what is impressed upon them. Teenagers don't need to be inspired to live for today; that is the very essence of youth! What teenagers need is to be reminded of the responsibilities of life, and that there are consequences to every decision we make. That reality was to take on deep and painful meaning for Williams when his most gifted student defies his father (unbeknownst to Williams) to such a sad outcome.

I found the symbolism employed in this film subtle and intriguing. A comparison is drawn between Williams and Abraham Lincoln. In Walt Whitman's poem ''Captain my Captain'' Whitman pays homage to the dead Lincoln for his many virtues, his strength of character, and, in particular, for freeing an oppressed people. Williams tells his students that, if they dare, they can call him ''captain my captain''. He wants his students to appreciate that he is trying to help them free their minds so they can think for themselves. This brings Williams into conflict with the school Principal who believes that students should learn to conform to society, and that rigid discipline is the better curriculum.

I found another subtle connection between Lincoln and one of characters, although it was probably not the director's intention. When Abraham Lincoln came to appreciate the horrific deadly impact of the Civil War on the lives of so many of his people, he couldn't bear the burden. Employing what may be called a self-preservation mechanism, Lincoln laid the burden of the Civil War on God's shoulders. He came to view the war as God's punishment to his Nation for allowing the egregious institution of slavery to endure for so long. So it was with Leonard's father. He could not deal with the guilt he felt for the loss of his son, so he used William's teaching methods as his scapegoat. Unfortunately William's shoulders were not as broad as God's, and his life and career were devastated.

Weir also used religious allusion when directing the scene in Leonard's bedroom, where Leonard wears the wreath from the Shakespearean play in which he starred. This apparently had some connection to the thorny crown Christ wore when he was impaled. Weir was likely implying that Leonard is to be considered a sacrifice on the alter of his father's unreasoning close-mindedness; though it may not be inappropriate to consider him as one impaled on the 'cross' of youthful misapprehension and miss-guidance.

One of the movie's elements of conflict was the ideological tension between William's and his employer. Williams was a romantic idealist; the principle of the school for which he worked was an unbending, rigid realist. Williams probably knew that his innovative if somewhat unorthodox teaching methods would ultimately cause him to butt heads with the school system, but his love for young people and for teaching, coupled with his belief that he could make a difference in his students lives, encouraged him to follow his convictions. The tension between Williams and the school was

Guest More than 1 year ago
I can go on and on telling you how much i love this movie (Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawk), or I can just HIGHLY reccommend that you see it and you can find out for your self. -It's definatly worth seeing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've read a number of reviews of ''Dead Poet's Society'' and so far the one ''Carpe Diem'', written by the reviewer, December 2000 is the only one thatgives the reader the best and most accurate idea of what the film is about and it's meanings. The most important point is what I'm going to talk about is Keating's ideals and non-conformist teaching techniques and how they affected his students. In every review I've read before, the reviewers all saw Keating as the one who was responsible for the tragady which ends the movie. As the ''Carpe Diem'' reviewer feels, I feel the same. Keating was not responsible for the death of Neil in any way whatsoever. True, his teaching methods were 'different' than what the boys were used to,; but Keating was actually the epitome of what a teacher is really suppose to be. A good teacher doesn't 'teach', he actually motivates students to learn; a good teacher is more of a 'learning facilator' of young minds, getting students to 'think for themselves'! This is exactly what Keating did. He did not, as so many reviewers have contended, push any of the boys into doing something that was a flagrant violation of parental or school rules. Yes, he tells the boys to ''Seize the day'', make their lives mean something and this may have ben the motivating factor behind Neil's disobedience of his father's wishes, but Keating does not 'push' Neil into it; as a matter of fact, he strongly urges Neil to talk with his father about the play, before it opens. It is Neil who is just so afraid of confronting the man that has dominated him his whole life, who doesn't heed Keating's advice and even lies to Keating about having done it. Keating's teaching methods, non-conformist as they are, are not responsible for Neil's behavior here! Keating is made the 'scapegoat' namely by Neil's father who is actually the major person responsible for his son's decision to end his life. The school headmaster and administrators only provide support for Mr Perry's accusations against Keating because he's paying the bills; they don't and won't go against a wealty and important business man, so Keating is terminated. Most reviews I've read failed to see this and they all pointed fingers at Keating and his teaching as the reasons why Neil was dead; it's simply incorrect!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can't say that I have ever actually seen the movie but I have greatly enjoyed the book. Once I started reading it I simply could not put it down. It had all the make-up of a great novel-heartrenching story lines, realisitc characters, frustrating conflicts, and all so geniously put together. I would like to commend the director, author, actors, and everyone involved in the producing/making of it and recommend this book/movie to anyone who loves a good story!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A favourite film is one I want to see more than once, and then over a long interval yet again. Dead Poets Society certainly qualifies, showing how a dedicated English teacher tries to make his pupils more complete humans - to educate them to the fullest extent. Unfortunately he gets into serious trouble as a result. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Staged entirely within the secular ambiance of a Boarding School where values such as tradition, honor, discipline and excellence are stressed out, “Dead Poets Society” proposes a critical analysis of the system’s preaching of a line of indoctrination close to that of populism where freedom and variety of choice are guaranteed to those who condescend to the system’s pre-selected choices. Concomitantly, several facets of social incongruence interplay within the depicted social strata proportionally to the expansion of the characters’ inter-dynamics. Furthermore, stereo-typification among the characters denounces the existence of oppression within the oppressed, an empirical trait probably osmotically absorbed from the macro-sphere, setting equal grounds for all dissimilar plans which will develop within the story. The most fundamental argument therein, nonetheless, lies in pondering the purpose of life as to its finality while keeping the value of altruism omnipresent. Thus, a powerful argument as to the symbiotic interrelation between qualification and quantification is set as to overshadow all other disseminating lines of thought throughout the story, a point whose substantiality is intertextually argued under the pretense that lyricism cannot and must not be scientifically equated as any attempt in accepting such equating would signify a loss of perspective on one’s humanity. Nevertheless, it is further argued that daring will necessarily lead to knowledge which, in turn, will lead to empowerment; leading, thus, to dissent from the system’s coercions; a paradox which dictates the empowerment of the individual through sound analytical thought to be the only way to commune from authentic freedom, a byproduct only achievable through non-compliance and non-conformance to the pre-established. The correlation between the authority of the overseer and the humiliation of the overseen is one portrayed as omnipresent. It is further argued that abuse of power by the overseer will generate morbidity of the social dynamics among the overseen and that, in order to withstand successful opposition to the overseer, the camaraderie amongst the overseen must accommodate the vulnerability of the self as to denote acceptance of individual differences and subsequent intra-micro-sphere maturation, further recognizing the possibility of simplicity while concurrently denying the plausibility of ordinary. Dictating that a certain level of anarchy is necessary within each individual, it is also demonstrated, nonetheless, that should no conscious attention be paid to the social development a micro-sphere, it will become tribal and, once self-actualized, it is likely to exhibit patterns of behavior analog to those objected in mother-sphere. Altruism, which is an essential component to the dissent from the overseer’s oppression, will lead to personal sacrifice, whose extent should be accurately conveyed as to the capability and finality of each individual and action respectively given ultimate altruism will lead to ultimate frustration, leading, in turn, to a refraction as to the sense of personal empowerment. Carpe Diem!
Guest More than 1 year ago
this is my absolute favourite movie. it means something different every time you watch it... first being a freedom film, it moves into a hilarious comedy- the flute!- and now it seems to be an inspiration to get into walt whitman and henry david thorough.. of course if you're a straight girl there are tons of actors who play roles of integrity to develope flaming crushes upon. all around delicious- except what happened to great, inspiring movies that feature a group of girls as the inspirors??? personally i detest tina and the other girl who come to the indian cave (gloria?)- what ditzes- and kris is basically seen, naturally, from the guy's point of view. this movie does not have a single female figure that is given an ounce of depth... well, what can you expect when its about a bunch of guys in a guy's school? anyhoo its still a good time... although i'm a little sick of relating to male characters with brains instead of females because thats all there is to be done... egad! girls are more than breasts!
Guest More than 1 year ago
After veiwing this movie several times i felt that this movie was very influential. It showed many believable nsituations in school and life. In this movie they had shown loyalty, friendship, and independent thinking on the part of the students. In the beginning of the movie the students never thought for themselves they always did what their parents and teachers told them to do. However after the movie the student did a complete turn around and fought for what they believe in and did what they wanted to do by thinking for themselves with the help from the teacher played by Robin Williams. The death of one of the students shows how kids need to think and do what they think and feel is right and not be controlled by their parents all the time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After viewing the Dead Poet's society, i found it interesting and inspirational. I believed the characters were well casted and had a realistic portrayal of adolescent's journay to finding themselves and the growth that occurs. The movie had an inspirational message that made you think.'Carpe Diem,' the reoccuring theme, pushes the viewer to reevaluate their own character, and relate to the charcters on a higher level.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was an excellent movie and I would recommend it to anyone who likes Robin Williams. This movie was very inspirational, insightful, and even had a little comedy thrown in as well. I thought it was a great story and movie from start to finish; with excellent acting and a good ending.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this movie. Robin Williams was phenominal as was the rest of the cast. Free thinking teachers are needed more often. From beginning to end the acting was sensational and I loved it. If anyone is looking for a movie to show them the value of thinking for yourself, watch this movie. I completely reccomend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i like this movie because students want to become but the parents said they must become a doctor,or lawyer or banker. this happens in real life. i think that thinking for yourself is goon. people must have their own life.people have right to do this and parents should not to interfere.everyone must have a chance to think theirself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I think that the Dead Poets Society is one of the most amazing movies ever made. The dangers of conformity is an underlying theme in this movie but in reality it is all about doing whats in your heart and not listening to or caring about wether or not others find it stupid or silly. This movie shows that you have to be yourself and stick up for yourself. Dead Poets Society shows that one person truly can make a difference.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this movie! It was just so moving! And why does everyone else just talk about the message, everybody already knows it's there and plenty of other movies have it too. I loved the poetry and feeling of the movie, and the characters were so likeable. The movie has feeling behind it, not just a lesson.
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the great inspiring films of the decade in which there was a real sense of hope and idealism. The ending was terribly sad, but somehow vindicating with Ethan Hawke, the shy kid defying "the System" and giving Robin Williams his props. I would say the most loving film and heartwrenching pieces of cinema of the 90's. Too bad Whitman or Shelley or especially Harte (no pun intended) or Shakespeare was there.
LaElo More than 1 year ago
Love IT!!!!!
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