“DEAD POET Society” is a story about a poetry teacher who inspires his students to seize the day (Carpe Diem) and how students apply it to their lives.
In one of his classes, John Keating (Robin Williams) asks his students, “Language was developed for one endeavour, and that is?” to which a student answers, “to communicate” but Keating rebukes him and replies, “No! To woo women.” This is one of Keating’s unconventional ideas. On his first session of the semester, he tells his students to rip off the textbook’s introduction, which says that poetry can be judge through a scale. I would love to sit in one of Keating’s classes, his one of those teachers who thinks beyond the books.
Even though he started his career being a stand-up comedian and was known for that genre, Williams shows that he can do drama and can juggle both. He funnily mimics Shakespeare plays and later cries when a tragedy strikes, showing that he is still vincible.
The film, however, gives emphasis on the students, and that gives William a lesser screen time but still worthwhile. After several sessions, the students are impressed and look up Keating’s history through an old yearbook. One of Keating’s affiliates is the Dead Poet Society, an organization that admires poetry. It is already disbanded but the boys try to form it again under incognito because the present administration wouldn’t look “favourably upon that”.
Every midnight they huddle together in a cave and read each other poetry. Soon, the boys’ lives begin to change. A shy boy becomes confident. An already jolly and innovative lad becomes more jolly and innovative but now with meaning. A father-stricken young man breaks free and enters a Shakespeare play. They grow fond of each other that they’re comfortable snatching each other’s assignment running all over the room. (The camera also spins following the students. That is quite good. Hope to imitate it someday.)
The good thing about this is all the young actors played their roles well. No one is left out or overshadowed. The bad thing is there is little screen time for every character that it’s hard to figure out their progress. The film jumps out in the end, skipping events in between. Welton Academy doesn’t admit girls and this spares the boys fantasize magazines. One student spots a girl from another school. He’s sincere but the problem is that the girl has a boyfriend, who is hotter than him but probably not smarter. She refuses the students but later comes running towards him. Hmmm . . . Is it too fast or the girl is just a two-timer?
Despite being an inspirational film, this could also be a depressing one. You might be too attached to the characters that you might not be willing to let them go when the situation demands it. Still, the film gives you the feeling of not-wasting-your-time.
“If you noticed, everyone started off with their own stride, their own pace,” Keating says in one of his outdoor activities. “Now we all have a great need for acceptance. But you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own.” That is actually the nature of the film. Surely, you can list many flaws but I like how the film maintains its “own stride” and “own pace”. This may not be the most inspiring film you may ever come across but it will inspire you. By then, it has fulfilled its objective and that is all that matters.