Grab your tissues for this movie: “Dead Poets Society”

The cover of the movie ‘The Dead Poets Society”. No modifications made.


The cover of the movie ‘The Dead Poets Society”. No modifications made.

Lyn Jarrell, Staff Writer

There is no other heart-wrenching and pull-at-the-heartstrings kind of movie than the “Dead Poets Society”. A powerful movie, “Dead Poets Society” tackles a problem that revolves around forceful parents who never listen or care about what their child wants and the devastating consequence that can occur once the child feels like they are trapped in a situation with no way out. 

The movie features the late Robin Williams, who plays English professor, Mr. Keating (also called “ ‘O captain my captain”). Keating teaches at Welton Academy, an all boys school. Mr. Keating and his students grow to trust one another while exploring the importance of defining their identity as an individual.

Welton Academy teaches the students about how to conform to the standards that are in place for them, but Mr. Keating uses his unorthodox teaching methods to show his students how to un-conform; how to be themselves. He teaches them to follow their own paths, all while reciting different poems to go along with each “lesson”.

At one part in the movie, the boys find an old yearbook that features Mr. Keating, and his old club called “Dead Poets Society”.  After dodging numerous questions from the boys, Mr. Keating barely explains the general idea of his old club. From then on, the boys decide to make it their mission to revive the “Dead Poets Society”, which they do that very night by holding a ceremony in the same dark cave in the woods where the original club held meetings. 

The movie also hones in on the development of a good friendship between Todd Anderson (played by Ethan Hawke) and Neil Perry (played by Robert Sean Leonard). Neil has a dream to act in plays and follow a career path in theatre, but his father forces him to look into “more practical” things, such as being a doctor or going to law school and achieving extra academia. 

While out one day, Neil discovers that the local theatre is holding auditions, and in order to attend, he needs written permission from a parent or guardian. Knowing that his father would never give permission, Neil writes a permission letter for himself, much to the dismay of his friend Todd, who attempts to discourage Neil from doing so. 

After auditioning, Neil quickly finds out that he made the lead role, which left him ecstatic. Neil then confides in Mr. Keating, admitting that he feels conflicted because of his father’s disapproval, but he has a desire to follow his passion. Mr. Keating advises Neil to make decisions for himself, and to do what he wants, not what his father wants. Neil agrees, and eventually the night of his performance comes.

All of his friends, and Mr. Keating attend the play. They watch in amazement and cheer their friend on. Afterwards, Neil sees his father, who was supposed to be out of town that night. He nervously approaches his father, who is seething with anger and disappointment. Neil then follows his father home, much to his own dismay, and to the dismay of his friends and Mr. Keating. 

Once home, (this is where things go south) his father lectures him, all while his mother stays silent. Neil attempts to speak up for himself, to get his father to realize that he has other dreams, but his father does not hear any of it. 

After yelling at his son, his father and his mother leave the room to go to bed. Neil then stands in front of the open window in his room, takes a deep breath, then places his crown from the play on the windowsill. After that, he walks to his father’s office room, opens the drawer, pulls out his father’s gun, and shoots himself. His father heard a gunshot, and then told his wife to stay in bed while he goes check it out. 

After looking around for a bit, he reaches his office, and sees his dead son on the floor. He breaks down and falls to his knees. The next scene shows all of his friends with tear-stained faces huddling above Todd’s sleeping form. They wake him up, and tell him the news. Todd grew extremely close to Neil, and once he heard the news, he ran outside in the snow, fell, threw up, and ran even further away from his other friends. 

Then it shows that Neil’s parents blamed Neil’s suicide on Mr. Keating because Mr. Keating had taught the kids how to think for themselves and how to be who they wanted to be, not what others wanted them to be. Mr. Keating is then fired, after one of the boys told the principal about the secret club. While the class is empty, Mr. Keating opens Neil’s desk, and finds a poetry book with a note addressed to Mr. Keating, himself. 

It assures Mr. Keating that his suicide was not Mr. Keating’s fault. After that, it shows Mr. Keating getting the rest of his stuff from his old classroom, which was in the middle of a class at that moment as well. His old students and him have one final interaction, one final goodbye, and then he leaves.

I have never cried so much during a film before! I could relate to the movie, for my love of poetry, and I know how Neil felt about feeling trapped. This movie is a tearjerker, but I promise, it is worth your time. 

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the GENESIS staff. Email Lyn Jarrell at [email protected].