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Review of Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society (1989), written by Tom Schulman and directed by Peter Weir, is a teen drama starring Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, and Josh Charles. This film follows the life of two disparate adolescent boys and their nonchalant schoolmates attending a stern and uncompromising boarding school. A new, unorthodox English Teacher (Robin Williams) arrives at the school, and the boys are inspired by his poetry and strange teaching methods. This film was hugely successful and received many awards, including Academy Award nominations for Best Director, Best Picture, and Best Actor for Robin Williams. Dead Poets Society also received much praise. According to the Washington Post, it was a “solid, smart entertainment” and I think that that comment is an accurate portrayal of the film. The New York Times stated that Robin Williams gave an "exceptionally fine performance". Not only do I agree with this comment, but I also feel that it was his performance that really struck a chord with me and made the film so influential. Although the movie received mostly positive reviews, Roger Ebert’s review was critical of the performance calling it a "collection of pious platitudes …” and commenting that it was poorly constructed. I think that Ebert’s assertion is harsh and untrue.

I watched this film for the first time only a few weeks ago and it very quickly became one of my favorites. Dead Poets Society is a thought-provoking, inspiring, and entertaining movie that promoted a non-conformist ideology through the use of both comedy and drama. Watching this film as a teenager makes it that much more inspirational but also devastating. Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, and Gale Hansen delivered an outstanding performance, captivating the audience throughout a thought provoking tale and, in the end, a heart-wrenching story. Robin Williams also delivers an extraordinary and convincing performance, conveying to the audience that he is a compassionate teacher who actively drives his students to think for themselves rather than forcing information upon them. He lets his character explore the success and the struggles of life rather than putting on his usual humorous performance. Watching this film now is much more upsetting than when it first aired due to the tragic death of Williams, an actor adored by all.

This movie was very touching and the actors did a remarkable job at showing the culture and values of the school and the dissimilarities among the groups of students, teachers, and parents. I think that it would be a great watch for all. However, this film is predominantly geared towards adolescents, in particular, students. The film explores the compelling topics of nonconformity and the importance of relationships. It is filled with drama and humor and will certainly energise both your intellect and heart.


"Dead Poets Society." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 13 Dec. 2021. Web. 19 Dec. 2021.


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