Wednesday, June 17, 2015

28: Dead Poets Society

Probably Robin Williams' most successful role - and that's saying something. I first watched it at the cinema aged 14 and came out with two impressions: firstly that this film wasn't the great thing the reviewers cracked it up to be, and secondly that the guy from Mork and Mindy was very good.

Over the years I've watched it several more times and to some extent the film has grown up with me - when I was younger I saw only the point of view of the boys themselves and thought about what it would have been like to go to that kind of school in that kind of period, and how the initial scenes of school terms beginning in early autumn are the same wherever and whenever you go to school. And as I've grown older I've learned to see a little more from the perspective of the adults in the family - Williams' character, the other teachers, the Principal and the parents. Not that any of that helps explain the storyline at all - as far as I can see, everyone messed up pretty badly both in the lead-up to the suicide and the ensuing cover-up - but it does show how we change as we get older.

And of course the final scene is beautiful, right from the overal concept of 'O Captain My Captain' and standing on the desks (and the fact that it was led by the shyest member of the class) through to the little details such as which of the class stood and which did not (even though some were only very very minor characters in the overall story). Williams played the role - and that scene in particular - with a wonderfully understated grace which, although he attempted it again, he was never able to totally recapture (looking in your direction 'Good Will Hunting').

Wonderful direction, strong story, good acting. Are there really 27 movies better than this?

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