Dead Poets Society
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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
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Williams, Robert Sean Leonard as the inspired Neil and a young Ethan Hawke as the socially stunted Todd give wonderful, heartfelt performances; and the cinematography--depicting glorious autumn days with flocks of Canadian geese and golden light, shadows and the school's Gothic architecture--is magnificent. In particular, the scene depicting Keating's first class--wherein the students stand silently before ancient, graying photographs of their predecessors, once immortal, now dead, while Keating whispers as from beyond the grave, "Carpe diem . . . seize the day, boys . . . make your lives extraordinary"--is alone worth the viewing. Inspirational through and through, this is a film about dreams, which also shows wisdom in addressing the consequences of pursuing dreams recklessly ("Nuwanda") and not defending them when the time comes (Neil). Highly recommended.
Afternote: As a high school senior visiting my future college, I attended an English class, where, for a sparkling moment, the man on whom Keating was based (Pickering, I believe) appeared in the classroom doorway to greet the professor. His eyes and smile were bright and contagious . . . though just for a moment, inspirational.
I thought it was interesting that Matt Damon and Ben Affleck were turned down for roles in this movie but then did Good Will Hunting. That said, the actors, all of them were terrific. Ethan Hawke said the scene where Robin, as his teacher, helps him express himself in the classroom, made him want to act, he chased the thrill of that scene from that point on. I must say, it was one of my favorite scenes also and I teared up watching it again.
Whether you are a Robin Williams fan or not, I recommend this movie for a very good, touching story.