Top 365 Films – #026 – Dead Poets Society (1989)

Film News - RIP Robin Williams - Dead Poets SocietyDIRECTED BY: Peter Weir

STARRING: Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Norman Lloyd, Kurtwood Smith, Dylan Kussman, James Waterston, Allelon Ruggiero, Leon Pownall, Alexandra Powers, Kevin Cooney, Welker White, Debra Mooney and George Martin

BUDGET: $16.4m

EARNED (Worldwide): $235.8m

AWARDS: Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and 2 BAFTAs for Best Film and Best Original Score



English teacher John Keating inspires his students to discover their love for poetry and seize the day.


Dead Poets Society has us follow a shy kid named Todd Anderson being sent to an elite prep boarding school known as Welton Academy and on his first day there he and his classmates meet their new English teacher Professor Keating, whose teaching methods are a little unorthodox to say the least. As he encourages them to be individuals and ‘make their lives extraordinary’, the group learn that Keating was a member of the unsanctioned group known as the Dead Poets Society and thus restart the club to sneak off campus at night.


Dead Poets Society is a film that has struck a chord with me since I watched it as a kid, probably because I could relate to Ethan Hawke’s character Todd Anderson, a kid that’s so shy you feel his sense of dread anytime he gets close to being put on the spot by English teach Professor Keating. Granted the film can be emotional manipulation if you were to watch it now as a first time viewer though it hooked me in with it’s characters gathering inspiration from their rather unorthodox teacher and exploring poetry and questioning their future paths for themselves rather than what their parents have intended for them. The one particular character that goes through this motion the most is Neil Perry, played well by Robert Sean Leonard as he’s forced to live through the opportunities and career path chosen for him by his father Mr. Perry, played well by Kurtwood Smith as he’s firm in giving the opportunities to his son that he never had. The direction from Weir and the editing showcased here are well handled and Robin Williams made a memorable impression as the teacher in question Professor Keating. An egging film that I can’t get tired of.


FAVOURITE SCENE: The scene of Neil at his house and his father going across the house scouting to figure out what the ruckus was that woke him up. The way the scene builds and delivers is well handled.

FAVOURITE QUOTE: ‘McAllister: “Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams and I’ll show you a happy man.”

John Keating: “But only in their dreams can men be truly free. ‘Twas always thus, and always thus will be.”

McAllister: Tennyson?

John Keating: No, Keating.’

DID YOU KNOW?: What attracted Robin Williams to the role of John Keating more than anything else was that John Keating was the type of teacher he, in his school days, always wished he had. When the boys show Professor Keating his old senior yearbook picture, it is, in reality, Robin Williams’s high school senior picture when he was a student at Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, north of San Francisco. Tom Schulman’s script was partly based on his own experiences at Montgomery Bell Academy, an all-boys preparatory school he attended in Nashville, Tennessee and his professor there, Samuel F. Pickering Jr. Ethan Hawke’s first impression of Peter Weir was that he “spoke funny”. Weir was the first Australian that the young Hawke had ever met.


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