By Juho Suomalainen (Finland)
Never would have I believed that a movie which is 25 years old, would have such an impact on me. It was a Monday morning during a cold September, only 8 degrees warm, and I was home alone. I felt that I was somewhat bored so I was flicking through the channels with nothing in the “stupid box.” I decided to check what movies we had recorded to our Digibox. I had seen almost every single one, but one movie caught my eye. That movie was Dead Poets Society from 1989. My general experience determines that movies were not in their prime during the 80’s so my expectations were not high for this movie that people call classic. Nevertheless, I got myself some dark chocolate and got comfortable on the couch wearing my favorite home sweater and a blanket over my feet to keep me warm.
The first few scenes of the movie were scenes about young boys in a church, getting ready for a year in a private school only for boys. The first scenes in which Robin Williams was, was when the head master of the school introduced the new English teacher of the school, John Keating (Robin Williams) to the students. At this point I was still expecting Robin Williams to be “himself” in this movie. That he would be the character which would always lighten the mood and give good laughs to us, the viewers. It was not until the first class of Mr. Keating and the class of boys which the movie based on that I was hooked.
Even though it came pretty fast in the film, I was already starting to feel my interest lower and lower. But when the students were chit chatting before the actual class and Mr. Keating was watching them from the back room with his ambiguous smile, I started to get interested again. When Mr. Keating waltzed in front of the class whistling a merry tune, the students started to listen, as did I. But then Mr. Keating kept on walking amongst the tables and to the back of the class, all the while whistling, I found myself holding my breath and keeping my eyes wide open. Then Williams said his first line of the movie, “well come on.” That was the moment when I knew I would love this movie.
This movie, especially Robin Williams as Mr. Keating, kept on giving me warm feelings throughout the movie. It showed me that the written word can be very powerful in the mind of a reader and it can even be something as simple as telling someone to seize the day. Such a simple advice but still so many people avoid this because of the fear of looking shortsighted or eccentric in the eyes of others who are just swimming along the stream of life, hoping that they won’t be caught in any nets along the way.
I don’t want to spoil the ending of this extraordinary film to anyone so I warn you, SPOILERS!
The ending showed me much more than on the first sight I expected. The young Neil Perry decided to follow his dreams of becoming an actor and participated in a play which was shown somewhat before Christmas in a small theater near the school. Even though his father did not allow this, since he was supposed to become a doctor. When his father heard from this, the young Neil lied so he could still be in the play. His father however found out and went to see the play. Whereas in a normal movie, this would be the time when the father understands that he was wrong and his son should follow his dreams, in Dead Poets Society, this was not the case.
The father was so furious that he decides to send Neil to a military school where he won’t be distracted by this kind of “nonsense.” Young Neil, understanding that his dreams were gone, in a moment of complete darkness and bitterness, decides to end his life. For his life is not worth living without doing the thing he loves the most.
His classmates take this extremely heavily, his roommate Todd Anderson runs outside with their classmates following him with bitter tears in each eye. Everyone expects Todd to yelp in despair but he looks at the snow falling from the sky and the virgin snow surrounding him. He looks at his friends and mumbles the words, “so beautiful” with such grief and gravity that it kills me a bit. Then Todd collapses to the ground crying with his friends hugging him.
This is where the movie gets darker and shows the true color of people. Everyone keeps blaming Mr. Keating because he is the easy target, he was in the original dead poets society and he gave the idea to these new youngsters. He had also always been watched by the other teachers because his way of teaching was a bit unorthodox to the other teachers. The situation gets so bad that the young minds are practically forced to sign a document which states that Mr. Keating is to blame. Because of this, he gets fired and he has to leave the school in the middle of the school year. But as always, those people who might seem a bit quirky might also have the most to give. Mr. Keating changed the minds of these young people forever as he was their captain. And also “Oh captain, MY captain.”
This movie should be seen by every single person on this planet. If you have friends who have not seen it, talk about it as long as they will watch it. Very rarely a movie makes me look at life completely different.
“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately, I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, To put to rout all that was not life, and not when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived.”