By Christian DiMartino
This is my “Film Confessions” Segment, in which I shall discuss things that, well, I know I will get judged for. So, for starters, I am going to rip the band-aid clean off and say… I do not like Dead Poets Society… and here comes the angry mob.
I have an Instagram account called Movies4Life17, in case you were not aware, and I will never write about Dead Poets Society. Why? Well, I am a sissy, and I know people will rip me to shreds for it. People could easily do that here as well, but for now, I feel like I can rest easy.
Okay, so let’s get to it, shall we? Peter Weir (Witness, The Truman Show) is a great filmmaker, and the late great Robin Williams is obviously a legend. The filmmaking is not necessarily bad, and William’s performance is strong… so why did I only reward it two stars?
I have noticed that I work in mysterious ways. Sometimes I can watch a movie when I am half asleep, and not like it, but then upon a re-watch, fall in love with it, as I did with The Big Lebowski. Or sometimes I can fall asleep through a movie and wake up crying, without knowing the actual ending (this happened with The Notebook… which did have a stupid ending). But the case with Dead Poets Society is different: I watched it when I was half asleep, and I really enjoyed it. But then I saw it again when I was wide awake a few years later, and I saw things clearly.
I think my problem with this film, the main one at least, is the story. Williams plays Professor Keating, an English teacher who inspires his students (played by then newcommers Ethan Hawke, Josh Charles, Robert Sean Leonard, and others) to express their love for poetry and seizing the day or some crap. Okay, I am being insensitive. The “seizing the day” thing works in its own ways.
The problem is that I just could not buy into the teenagers. In the middle of the night, these teens run into the woods… and read poetry together? In the dark? At one point, they invite girls with them into the woods… not to get laid, but to read… poetry. Again, I realize I may sound insensitive, but really?
Also, I cannot really believe the fact that this film won Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars, over Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors, a masterpiece no less. The dialogue in this movie is another weakness, and it doesn’t help that the teenage actors, even though some of them are famous now, could not really act.
Granted, the film has its effective moments, such as the suicide scene involving Leonard’s character Neil. But even then, couldn’t he have just waited like less than a year? Seriously, had he waited like a few months, he could have just moved out and done whatever he wanted. That said, Kurtwood Smith’s character probably would have put his foot up his ass, in a Red Forman fashion.
I also like the last scene, which is also effective in its own ways. It is a film of moments, but yet, my problems cannot overcome the strengths. Clearly, I am in the dark. Let me have it, that is fine. But I am sticking to it.