Dead Poets Society (1989)
Updated: Jul 17
Projectionist's rating: 5/10
A new Zoom discussion layout worked well for those of us gathered to talk about this 1989 film, starring Robin Williams. The shorts also had the theme of ‘Teach Life’ and some had made a really powerful impact on the audience.
This film was about an inspirational teacher who thought outside the box. It led us to share stories of our own school days. For one member of the group, it was unexpectedly a Geometry teacher who inspired in the magic of their subject, rather than a strict Art teacher.
We were interested that the school depicted in the film was certainly dull and fixed in its way of teaching, but the pupils did not appear oppressed or bullied, compared with a previous RCC film ‘If…’.
One member of the group said Mr Keating’s emphasis on poetry as something to be immersed in, rather than analysed as Science, would probably be seen as unmanly in his time. We talked about Mr Keating’s idea of teaching young people to think for themselves, as compared with the message of education to pass exams. There were differing views about what education was for.
The pupil Neil’s father was discussed and the group felt he was a ‘man of his time’ with his unyielding views and strong authority over his son and wife. Today we would see it as ‘toxic masculinity.’
A big question was whether Mr Keating was to blame for the terrible incident that led to his sacking. I did feel he was, to some extent, led by ego. As some members of the group said, the message of ‘carpe diem’ is good in theory, but swept the immature young people along on a wave without use of due caution.
The teachers among us shared some of our school memories. We went home really late, still thinking of the themes of this fascinating film.