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Dead Poets Society

1,523 customer reviews

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(Nov 10, 1998)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

In an age defined by crew cuts, sport coats, and cheerless conformity, he not only broke the mold ... he reinvented it. Academy Award(R) winner Robin Williams (Best Supporting Actor, GOOD WILL HUNTING, 1997) delivers an extraordinary performance in one of the most compelling motion pictures of all time. Williams stars as English professor John Keating, a passionate iconoclast who changes his students' lives forever when he challenges them to live life to the fullest and "Carpe Diem" -- seize the day! Keating's unconventional approach meets with irrepressible enthusiasm from his students, but the faculty at staid, exclusive Welton Academy prep school is, to put it mildly, not amused. Featuring a star-marking performance by Ethan Hawke and over three hours of never-before-seen bonus materials, this Special Edition of DEAD POETS SOCIETY will captivate and inspire you again and again.

Robin Williams stars as an English teacher who doesn't fit into the conservative prep school where he teaches, but whose charisma and love of poetry inspires several boys to revive a secret society with a bohemian bent. The script is well meaning but a little trite, though director Peter Weir (The Truman Show) adds layers of emotional depth in scenes of conflict between the kids and adults. (A subplot involving one father's terrible pressure on his son--played by Robert Sean Leonard--to drop his interest in theater reaches heartbreaking proportions.) Williams is given plenty of latitude to work in his brand of improvisational humor, though it is all well-woven into his character's style of instruction. --Tom Keogh

Special Features

DEAD POETS: A LOOK BACK -- Featuring New Interview Footage With Director Peter Weir, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, And Many Others.|RAW TAKES|MASTER OF SOUND: ALAN SPLET -- New Interviews WIth David Lynch And Peter Weir|CINEMATOGRAPHY MASTER CLASS -- An Intensive And Inspirational Lighting Workshop With Cinematographer John Seale|AUDIO COMMENTARY -- With Director Peter Weir, Cinematographer John Seale, And Writer Tom Schulman|THEATRICAL TRAILER

Product Details

  • Actors: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen
  • Directors: Peter Weir
  • Writers: Tom Schulman
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Touchstone Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 10, 1998
  • Run Time: 129 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,523 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305144168
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #549 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Dead Poets Society" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

276 of 292 people found the following review helpful By Themis-Athena on September 3, 2001
Format: DVD
"I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." (Henry David Thoreau, "Walden.")

Hands up folks, how many of us discovered Thoreau after having watched this movie? *Really* discovered I mean, regardless whether you had known he'd existed before. How many believe they know what Thoreau was talking about in that passage about "sucking the marrow out of life" cited in the movie, even if you didn't spend the next 2+ years of your life living in a self-constructed cabin on a pond in the woods? How many bought a copy of Whitman's poems ... whatever collection? (And maybe even read more than "Oh Captain! My Captain!"?) How many went on to read Emerson? Frost? Or John Keats, on whose personality Robin Williams's John Keating is probably losely based? Judging by the vast majority of the reviews on this site alone, you just can't fail to notice that this movie has a powerful appeal like few others; "inspirational" is probably the most frequently used word in the opinions represented here. And justifiedly so, despite the fact that charismatic Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard), one of the movie's main characters, tragically falters in the pursuit of his dreams, in the wake of apparent triumph. Because although Neil's story is one of failure, ultimately this movie is a celebration of the triumph of free will, independent thinking and the growth of personality; embodied in its closing scene.

Of course, lofty goals such as these are not easily achieved. Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) in particular, the last scene's triumphant hero, is literally pushed to the edge of reason before he learns to overcome his inhibitions.
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161 of 168 people found the following review helpful By Paul P. Heffernan on November 30, 2005
Format: DVD
Be careful about the label 'Special Edition' if you are still waiting, like me, for the fabulous Director's cut that was released on laser disk but not on DVD. It contains essential extra footage added by Peter Weir that fleshes out the motivations behind many of the characters and answers some questions that the theatrical cut raises. The Director's cut is 142 minutes so this DVD is just a re-release of the original theatrical version.
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90 of 93 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Bimson on January 10, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I just received the "Special Edition" and was disappointed. The reviewer who advised caution was correct-this is just the same version with a few "bonus" features. The "Deleted Scenes" or "Raw" footage contains only the couple of minutes of Keating meeting the boys at the cave after Neil's performance. The version shown on USA (I haven't seen the Laser Disk Director's Cut) containing the extra footage of Knox's dinner at Danbury's and meeting Ginny Danbury, the scene rehearsing near the lake, the boys being assigned their extracurricular activities are all missing. The original script called for Knox and Chris to kiss near the frozen waterfall after the Keating-led meeting. That's not here, either. Too bad - those scenes really tie up the story much better.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 18, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
There are three versions of this movie that I am aware of. The first is the theatrical release, the telvision version that has 13 extra minutes added on, and last the travesty that Touchstone has released. Why DPS has been hacked up in this way is puzzling to say the least. In some parts, the plot suffers greatly because key scenes have been cut out. For example, when Knox meets Chris for the first time at the Danbury's, are we to assume that he falls head over heels in love after just seeing her at the door for all of 30 seconds? Also, there is a great scene when Dr. Nolan is handing out the extra-curricular activities at Welton, showing what a tyrant he is. Again, this scene is left on the cutting room floor. Given the Oscar nominations this movie had, and that it is one of Robin Williams' most memorable roles, I am baffled as to why Touchstone would give this move such short shrift when releasing a home video version. My advice to anyone who wants to enjoy DPS at home would be to seekout a copy of the TV version which has the full theatrical version plus the extra 13 minutes. Dead Poets' Society is a touching and thoroughly enjoyable movie. However, the verision that is found on the home video release bears little resemblance to it.
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78 of 87 people found the following review helpful By R. DelParto VINE VOICE on January 21, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
No matter how many times I watch a particular movie, certain ones have a way of moving me. Dead Poets Society was one of them. It was the most influential film I had ever watched, and the only one that I could relate to directly and indirectly.

Robin Williams plays the English teacher, John Keating, who brings enthusiasm to the classroom of young scholars whose only sense of fun is spending time together in their study groups. But his method of teaching was rather unconventional. Keating did not conduct an in your face way of teaching, and nor did he spoon feed the boys in his class. Keating suggests to the students that in any formal environment, there is the strict expectation that one follows the straight and narrow, and free thinking is the antagonist where there should not exist any curves or turns. He simply opens the minds of the students who only thought that going to prep school was the easiest way to get to Harvard. And in essence, the main gist of the film has to do with, no matter what direction in life one takes, poetry is the path to expression.

This movie was high with emotions and of course relationships. I particularly thought Ethan Hawke's performance was very convincing. If you've ever been a situation like Hawke's character, you would know what I mean; watch the movie and you'll understand. Also, the relationship between Robert Sean Leonard's character and his father was very realistic of a person who's dying to break free from parental influence.

As in any movie depicting honor and respect (School Ties and Scent of a Woman), someone suffers the consequences, but no one is left standing alone. In the case of Dead Poets Society, the circle of friendship that existed between the students became a hard lesson.
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