Review of Dead Poet's Society

During this scary and confusing time surrounding COVID-19, we all inevitably have altered our potentially wacky schedules, and most of us likely have time on our hands. For me, it took quite some time to adjust. Since I virtually have all day to do school work, my nights quickly became free. I tried to fill my time with yoga, workouts, getting ahead in work, and relaxation, but I still felt restless — like I should be doing something. I created a list of must-see movies that I have not seen. This list included Lost in Translation, Fargo and Dead Poet’s Society. The latter, starring the late Robin Williams, fascinated me; this coming of age film brilliantly explores various themes that evoke strong emotions in viewers.

The film presents a group of boys journeying through their high school years. However, this is not a typical high school—the boys attend a prestigious, rigid and extremely conservative boarding school. As one can imagine, the pressures are high, coming from both the parents and the difficult course work. The boys come from families in which the parents have decided how their lives should unfold: they will graduate with top-notch grades, go to grad school and then become doctors, bankers, or lawyers. 

 

Carpe Diem

Carpe diem, which translates to “seize the day,” is probably the most famous quote from this movie, which is repeated frequently, emphasizing its significance. Robin Williams plays Mr. Keating, a teacher who stresses to the boys that they must take their lives into their own hands and make choices for themselves. This quote sets the scene for a film that encourages the boys to become independent and choose their paths in life.

 

Individuality

“No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”— Mr. Keating

“We must constantly look at things in a different way.”— Mr. Keating

“You must strive to find your own voice.” — Mr. Keating

As mentioned, this film encourages the boys to break away from their predestined lives and take their own steps. Mr. Keating is an inspiration to the boys, as he repeatedly shows them that they have agency and can use their minds.  

 

Poetry

“What will your verse be?” — Mr. Keating

Mr. Keating, passionate about literature that has left a mark, uses poetry and brilliant writers to highlight how important it is to leave a mark. Overlapping with the themes of identity creation and individuality, poetry is used to incite creativity inside of the boys to ultimately show them that their unique voices should be their gift to the world. Not the voices of their parents, society or anyone else. Mr. Keating shows these boys that despite all that has been preached to them, they can have a say.

 

Dead Poet’s Society embraces rebellion, individualism and the drive to freedom. The way that this film utilizes literature and words to underline the search for freedom is fascinating.  Robin William brilliantly portrays the quirky, eccentric English teacher who serves as a muse to the boys and shows them that change is possible. He transforms these boys from robots, ready to live through the words of their parents, into enthusiastic and creative young men. Through his passion and joy of life, Williams celebrates independence, motivating the boys to seize the day.