Dead Poets Society

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We all have an inner fire that burns and pushes us everyday to achieve our dreams, and we need to listen to this and follow our passions to live at the fullest.

This is the message I got from the 1989 American movie Dead Poets Society, directed by Peter Weir and written by Tom Schulman.

The story takes place at Welton Academy, an all-male elite school in Vermont, where the new student Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) is attending his senior year. On his first day of school, Todd meets his roommate, Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) and his friends Knox Overstreet, Richard Cameron, Steven Meeks, Gerard Pitts, and Charlie Dalton.

Todd is not the only new arrival at the Academy, however; John Keating (Robin Williams) is a Welton alumnus and has just been hired to teach Poetry and Literature at Welton. The students, used to a strict program of “Tradition, Honor, Discipline, and Excellence”, are immediately surprised by Keating’s teaching methods and his life motto “Seize the day, make your lives extraordinary.” (from the Latin “Carpe diem”).

Keating teaches the boys to look at life from a different perspective and to find the beauty that hides behind the poems they read in class. He then tells them about the Dead Poets Society, a group whose he was a member when he was a student, and during which meetings he used to read poems and verses, including his own compositions.

Throughout the school year, Neil discovers his love for acting, and even though his father wants him to go to Harvard, he gets a part for a local production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and he decides he wants to work in the theater for a living.

This, along with other decisions that the boys will make, (thanks to their teacher’s encouragement) will change their and Keating’s lives forever. The characters have different personalities and they all change and mature throughout the story: Todd is shy and insecure, but he comes out of his shell and he turns into a totally different person at the end of the movie; Charlie is shown as a confident guy who doesn’t care about other people, but he reveals to be really sensitive and caring when Neil dies; Neil is curious and kind, he is determined to achieve his dreams and he’s full of life, but he ends up killing himself because of the conflict with his father and because he can’t express his feelings to him.

The movie is mostly staged inside the school, it flows smoothly from scene to scene and it’s full of intense dialogues and metaphors. The soundtrack and the set design bring the viewer back in time and vary depending on the mood of the scene.This movie conveys an important message: don’t conform, be yourself and follow your dreams, and most importantly, seize the day.