As a lover of poetry it is only natural that one of my favorite movies is Dead Poets Society. Here are some of my favorite clips from the movie.
So what will do today to seize the day. Poetry is about feeling, love, sadness and death. Poetry is also about getting the most out of life. What will you do to live a life worth living? How will you stand out from everyone else?
This is a review I wrote about this movie for my Survey of World Views class:
The Dead Poets Society is a story about a group of young men attending a preparatory school based on the four pillars of tradition, honor, discipline and excellence. There are two opposing ideas of existentialism between two characters in the film and the group of men in the Dead Poets Society.
The story begins as the boys are starting the semester at school and are in John Keating’s English class. The boys realize that Keating’s class is unusual in that it does not conform to traditional ivy-league teaching, which is based on the four pillars. During the first class, Keating instructs the class to rip out the introduction of their poetry book, which explains understanding poetry written by a professor with a PhD. The second class Keating takes his students into the foyer of the school where pictures of previous attendees of the school are displayed. Keating tells them, to hear the lesson of these men, and Keating then begins to whisper “Carpe Diem, seize the day boys.”
The boys, intrigued by Keating, begin to research him and found his picture in the school annual and discovered he was a member of the Dead Poets Society. They question him concerning it. Keating explains that the Dead Poets Society was dedicated to reading poetry and “sucking the marrow out of life.” One of the boys, and the leader of the club, Neil Perry discover a book left by Keating that the society used in the beginning of every meeting.
The group of boys decides to meet in a cave where the previous Dead Poet Society met, and they begin to define their lives. Todd Anderson is a member of the group but only under the condition that he does not read out loud. Todd is the shy one of the group, where Neil is the outspoken one. Neil is in direct conflict with what his Dad wants for him. In the beginning of the movie, Neil is forced to drop out of the annual committee. Later Neil joins a play unbeknownst to his Dad. As Neil’s Dad discovers the play, he tells Neil he must quit; Neil does not obey his Dad. The final night of the play, Neil’s Dad attends, sees Neil, and removes him from the academy. Neil’s Dad enrolls him in military school. Neil is unable to continue what he loves, so he decides to take his life.
The school, needing to find blame for Neil’s suicide, blames Keating for encouraging Neil against his father’s wishes. The school forces the boys to sign a document stating that Keating is responsible. Keating is fired from his teaching position and on his last day enters the class where the headmaster has taken over his English class. Upon leaving, Todd stands up on his desk, and says, “O captain, my captain,” referring to Keating. Following suit the devout members of the Dead Poets Society stand up along with him while the headmaster is trying to restore order.
The academy represents existentialism in that they believe their method of teaching is the only right way. They are assured that it works so they remain with their teaching methods. The students are expected to conform to teachings and rules instated by the school administration.
Neil and Todd have two direct opposite ideas of existentialism. His father holds Neil back from his passion of acting. Todd has yet to define himself so he has conformed to what everyone else does.
Knox Overstreet, another character who demonstrates existentialism and takes Keating’s teaching to heart to try and win over Chris, which is already involved in a relationship. His persistence finally pays off when Chris accepts his proposal to go with him to the play.
The Dead Poets Society is a coming of age story about a group of young men trying to define themselves despite what the institution and their parents say. The worldview of existentialism is a theme present throughout the movie.
A new addition to my blog
I have decided to add a poetry page on my blog where I will post all of my poetry and some of my favorite poems from other writers. I am still working on this and hopefully it will be up in the next week.