Dead Poets Society

 
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Release date: June 2, 1989

Directed by: Peter Weir

Starring: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Norman Lloyd, James Waterston, Dylan Kussman, Kurtwood Smith

Budget: $16.4 million

Box office: $235.9 million

 

An English teacher inspires his students through his teaching.

An interesting film, Dead Poets Society seeks to strike a chord with its message to its audience of making life worth living by seizing the day, told through John Keating’s unorthodox teaching methods. Throughout the film, various characters are seen taking his lessons to heart, whether it’s restarting the secret society that is the namesake of the film or attempting to find and put their heart into something they find enjoyable despite disapproval from their family. What ensues is a captivating story where all its directions fit well, even though some of them may not have the brightest of endings.

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Keating is a fascinating teacher as well. He carries an ideology where he sees his students as people worth having their own thoughts and feelings and works to inspire them to reach everything they can achieve. The film contains an appealing montage depicting some of his unorthodox lessons, demonstrating he’s seeking to enrich them in character, body, spirit and knowledge. Yet, it only shows him teaching about innovative poets from previous generations, such as the transcendentalists. However, the film is set in the 1950s and Keating never once mentions the Beat Generation, which was reaching its apex in this era. It is possible he could have introduced them in a lesson off screen or was planning to at a later date. Nevertheless, it feels like a glaring omission. 

Still, the film does have its great moments of character development, notably from Todd Anderson. He begins the film as the story’s greatest introvert, deciding he wants to stay out of any sort of spotlight. Over the course of the film, Anderson can be seen coming out of his shell, through Keating’s influence or otherwise. Further, upon the film’s conclusion, he’s the first to take a stand in declaring what he believes to be an injustice, soon followed by a few other classmates. It’s good progression too, with none of the steps he takes coming off as unbelievable. Rather, the audience can see the wheels turning in his head every step of the way.

This is definitely a film worth watching at least once.

Awards

Won

Academy Awards

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards

  • Top Box Office Films

Association of Polish Filmmakers Critics Awards

  • Golden Reel - Best Foreign Film

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Film

  • Best Original Film Score

Casting Society of America, USA - Artios Awards

  • Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama

César Awards, France

  • Best Foreign Film

David di Donatello Awards

  • Best Foreign Film

Golden Ciak Awards

  • Best Foreign Film

Golden Screen, Germany

  • Golden Screen

Guild of German Art House Cinemas Awards

  • Guild Film Award - Gold - Foreign Film

Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Awards

  • Silver Ribbon - Best Foreign Director

Joseph Plateau Awards

  • Best Foreign Film

Jupiter Awards

  • Best International Actor (Robin Williams)

  • Best International Film

National Board of Review, USA

  • Top Ten Films

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • OFTA Film Hall of Fame - Motion Picture

Political Film Society, USA Awards

  • Democracy

Warsaw International Film Festival Awards

  • Audience Award

Young Artist Awards

  • Best Motion Picture - Drama

 

Nominated

Academy Awards

  • Best Picture

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robin Williams)

  • Best Director

Argentinean Film Critics Association Awards

  • Silver Condor - Best Foreign Film

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Actor (Robin Williams)

  • Best Direction

  • Best Editing

  • Best Screenplay - Original

British Society of Cinematographers Awards

  • Best Cinematography Award

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Most Promising Actor (Robert Sean Leonard)

David di Donatello Awards

  • Best Foreign Actor (Robin Williams)

  • Best Foreign Director

Directors Guild of America, USA Awards

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Motion Picture - Drama

  • Best Director - Motion Picture

  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama

  • Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

Writers Guild of America, USA Awards

  • Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen