Dead Poets Society (1989) is a story about a group of students who are taught English by a teacher called John Keating, (Williams) who inspires his students to seize the day.
The film focuses on student, Neil Perry, a young man who the students look up to, but he’s a young man who’s had his life planned out for him by his over-bearing father. He is roommates with the new kid, Todd Anderson played by the young looking Ethan Hawke.
On Keating’s first day, he tells the young men in the room, Carpe Diem, latin for ‘seize the day’. That engineering, business, law, they’re all noble pursuits, but poetry, is beauty, love, romance, it’s the things we live for.
The film, it could be said, is a coming-of-age film, a film in which young men gain confidence, gain an individual voice. Keating tells them, “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!” However, with all ambitions comes obstacles and Neil Perry’s main obstacle is his father, a father so caught up in the opportunity he has given his son, that he has written his life out for him, destined for only one path, his fathers.
Going through puberty is an interesting transition, full of confusion and ideas, Dead Poets Society takes place within that transition, each man with his own path. Most teenagers will wish they had a teacher like Keating to guide them, to focus them on the bigger things in life.
Keating is an extraordinary character, one that will be remembered for decades to come. Keating asks Mr. Nolan (the dean), whether or not it is their goal to teach them to express their own voice, he tells them that they’re far too young, that they must keep to tradition. Eventually Keating is fired because of this very contrasting idea, the firing itself could symbolise the contrasting ideology itself, that young men are meant to be kept at arms length, not set free to explore.
Dead Poets Society (1989) goes down as a modern classic and a testament to Robin Williams life and talent.