The film that proved Robin Williams could be a solid dramatic actor and also taught us to all love literature comes to Blu-ray looking great and just as powerful.
1989’s Dead Poets Society was directed by Peter Weir (The Truman Show) and was written by Tom Schulman (Medicine Man). Along with Williams, the film featured great performances from Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, and Kurtwood Smith.
Set in 1959 at the upscale Welton Academy for boys in Vermont, the film follows a group of students who are influenced to think for themselves by their unorthodox English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams). Welton Academy has a long tradition of molding young minds and sending its students off on their expected paths of life (which are pretty much set by their rich fathers).
Keating (who attended the school as child) arrives to take over the English class, but is instantly not what the students or other faculty is expecting. While his methods shock some students and upset other members of the faculty, it encourages several students – including Neil (Leonard), Todd (Hawke) and Knox (Charles) – to not blindly follow in their father’s footsteps and to actually start thinking for themselves.
The main three boys form a new version of the Dead Poets Society (a secret club Keating was a member of as a student) and start holding meetings in a cave off campus. They also start acting out in search of a freedom that Welton doesn’t encourage.
Neil decides he wants to be an actor and even lands the role of Puck in the local production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He is thrilled with the opportunity, but clashes with his father (Smith) who wants him to double down on his academics. Neil’s disobedience leads to his father deciding to put the boy into a military academy and has tragic results by the end of the film.
Todd is a character that is full of self-doubt and has absentee parents who don’t seem to care too much about him – even giving him the same gift for his birthday two years in a row. Keating’s style of teaching intimidates the boy, but he slowly starts to find his voice as the film rolls along.
Knox serves as the one most encouraged by Keating’s teaching and is also struck by love. He is brash, daring and not scared about the consequences for much of his actions.
Dead Poets Society is an incredibly moving film and it only seems to be getting better. Williams gives one of the best performances of his career and is completely believable in the role of Keating. The actor truly shines in the film blending his natural comedy style with a heavy sense of dramatic talent. By the end of the movie, the audience cares as much for the teacher as the students do.
All three of the young actors are also extremely good in the film and capture different aspects of what it feels like to be young and with your life planned out for you by your parents. The tragedy of Neil still feels drastic, but is believable given how hard his father pushed the boy.
The film looks solid on Blu-ray and comes loaded with special features that will please fans of the movie.
Dead Poets Society is a film that still packs a huge emotional punch. It features extremely good performances from its cast, and will keep you talking about it long after the end credits roll. The Blu-ray edition of the movie doesn’t offer much of a reason to upgrade if you already on the film on DVD, but is more than worth the purchase price if it isn’t already owned.
Visit the DVD database for more information.Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.