COLUMN: “Dead Poets Society” touches on multiple themes about life


Rob Le Cates

Cam’ron Hardy is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at 217-581-2812.

Cam'ron Hardy, Columnist

Robin Williams plays the teacher students wish they had in Dead Poets Society

John Keating, played by Robin Williams, is a new English teacher at an all-boys preparatory school. He uses unorthodox teaching mechanics to connect with his students and allow them to express themselves.

Having a teacher that cares for a student outside of the classroom is a special relationship that can be developed. Those type of teachers are the most memorable.

They are important to have in schools because students may have the thought process that they are surrounded by adults that are only worried about them turning in homework assignments and passing tests and quizzes.

In this film, Williams plays that type of teacher. His connection with Neil Perry, played by Robert Sean Leonard, is an example of how he cares for his students outside of the classroom.

Williams optimistic and enthusiastic demeanor makes his character likeable and was a good attitude to have as this type of teacher and character.

Neil Perry’s father, played by Kurtwood Smith, is very strict and tolerates no disobedience from his child and has a clear path that he wants his son to go down.

Neil finds out about a play that he auditions, aware of his father’s disapproval if he found out. He gets the lead role, and he expresses how he would want his father to support him to Keating.

Keating explains how Neil should tell his father everything Neil told him. Unexpectedly, his father comes to the play, unclear if it was to support or another reason, but he did come.

This scene simply demonstrates how Keating would want the best for his students. Keating also comes to the play to support, along with Neil’s friends.

The storyline with Neil was unique. He had the same problems some children could be dealing with, wanting to stray away from the path their parents set for them.

Unfortunately, his character died, which was not predictable.

Leonard’s acting performance was acceptable. During the scene after the play, when Neil’s father tells him about switching schools and the career path he wants Neil to go down, Leonard expresses so much emotion.

After their conversation is done, Neil sits down while his mother consoles with him, he has a line which stood out. Neil states, “I was good. I was really good.”

Although it is a simple line, there is so much defeat within it.

There is a double entendre of Neil knowing his father is disappointed in him and he has let him down along with the sense of disenchantment can be felt by his passion of acting also being shut down can be identified in that same sentence.

Some sort of love story is expected in most teen movies, and this stereotype does not fail in this movie, but it comes off disturbing. Knox Overstreet, played by Josh Charles, develops feelings for a girl named Chris Noel, played by Alexandra Powers.

Overstreet and Noel meet when Overstreet is invited to Noels house for dinner. From the first time he laid eyes on her, she absorbs his thoughts. Eventually, this infatuation with Noel comes across as harassment.

Noel invites Overstreet to a party. They are pretty much acquaintances at this point.

At this party, Noel falls asleep and while her boyfriend is in attendance, he kisses her on the forehead. Even if her boyfriend was not there, this is still a very odd thing to do.

Overstreet goes to her school to apologize, and she still is bothered by him. She leaves him in the hallway to go to class and he follows her, while she is clearly unamused and he is just embarrassing himself, but that’s what some people do when they are young and dumb.

It was a good love story, excluding the harassment parts, the only issue is that there was no conclusion with it.

After begging Noel to go to a play with him, she agrees, and he says that he will stop bothering her if she does not enjoy her time with him.

The audience is left unaware of how their date went and their storyline pretty much ends at that conversation, which is underwhelming.

The movie starts off kind of slow too, but other than that, the movie was great.

It touches on multiple topics that most people deal with in life such as: independence, perseverance, the troubles of childhood, manhood, love, fatherhood, and selfishness.

There is a lot to take away from this film.

Rating: 4.5/5

Cam’ron Hardy is a sophomore journalism major. He can be reached at [email protected] or 217-581-2812.