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‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989)

‘Dead Poets Society’ (1989)

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I had an eighth-grade teacher who would stand on desks and shout in class. He was scarily intimidating and wonderfully engaging all at the same time — much like Robin William’s character in “Dead Poets Society.” A Washington Post reviewer praised Williams for giving a “nicely restrained acting performance” for his role in the 1989 drama, which has since been widely recognized as one of the actor/comedian’s best (and also earned him an Oscar nomination). Set in 1959, Williams’ character, John Keating, is a new English teacher at Welton Academy, an all-male, elite prep school. The students are surprised by Keating’s unorthodox teaching methods (like standing on desks, ripping pages from poetry books, etc.). A Welton alumnus himself, he encourages his students to “make your lives extraordinary,” a sentiment he summarizes with the Latin expression carpe diem, which means to “seize the day.” He made his lessons interesting, engaging and dared his students to walk their own paths, which of course, ruffles the feathers of parents and the headmaster. The “O Captain, my Captain!” scene alone is worth watching the movie for.

— Cassie Armstrong

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