Cert: PG Runtime: 128 mins Director: Peter Weir Cast: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles and Kurtwood Smith
O Captain, my Captain
It’s been a few days since the passing of Robin Williams, it is strange when so many people have been so deeply effected by his passing. For me it was a great shock, depression gets everyone at times. What we as a society must learn from Robin’s death is to ask for help and express ourselves more openly with our loved ones. Robin Williams had a great influence on my childhood from Mrs.Doubtfire to Jumanji, there was never a week where we wouldn’t watch these films. He taught us that life is hard, but with the willingness to succeed you can achieve in this life. As I grew older he had a lasting effect in films such as One Hour Photo or Good Will Hunting. He truly was a diverse actor and a great entertainer. For me Dead Poets Society is the most meaningful of his film. In his memory I dedicate this to him for the joy and lessons he has taught numerous generations. Painfully shy Todd Anderson(Ethan Hawke) has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His room-mate, Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating (Robin Williams), their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society, and encourages them to go against the status quo. Each, in their own way, does this, and are changed for life.
I’ve actually seen complaints about this film that point out that it is not very funny. Oddly enough, the film isn’t a comedy, so I’m surprised anyone would expect it to be funny. Dead Poets Society is a graceful and elegant melodrama centred around the coming of age of young prep school boys through the discovery of the souls of dead poets in their classic works.Robin Williams injects much needed levity with bits that absolutely must have been ad-libbed as only he could. The Marlon Brando and John Wayne impressions are simply side-splitting. But it is in his dramatic moments you see that Williams range is far wider than the comedic fare for which he is known. In fact, it is those moments of cunning insight and biting wit that few actors can create where Williams’ finest work lies. There is no shortage of such moments here.This is not the typical kids acting like idiots in school lame groaner that most high school films are. It is intelligent and insightful, woven around disparate young men dangerously involved in the discovery of self.
And dangerous it is, as discovery often reveals hidden conflict.Robert Sean Leonard is simply stunning. His conflicted portrayal of a boy whose father’s expectations are not aligned with his own dreams culminates in one of the most unforgettable scenes in the genre. Ethan Hawke is beautifully brittle as a young boy about to enter his own maturity.If you don’t have tears in your eyes at the final scene, you should be forbidden by law ever to watch another movie in your life. So many people live lives of quiet desperation, and if you ever had a teacher, or ever were that teacher, who encouraged young minds to seize the day, this is a film you will always treasure for the towering accomplishment it is. Director Peter Weir litters the scenery with insider jokes and symbols present in all his films, and if you don’t know them or get them, you won’t miss a thing. His body of work is nonetheless historically significant, and this could be the jewel in his crown.