This is another Robin Williams movie that I have heard many good thing about, but have never watched it myself. I’ve seen the clip of Williams standing up on the desk several times, but not the full movie.
Robin Williams is introduced in this movie as the replacement of a retired English teacher at one of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the United States, Welton Academy. Williams plays the role of Mr. John Keating, he is an alumni of Welton who was previously teaching in a school in London. On his first day of teaching at the schools fondly dubbed as “Hellton,” Keating gives his students something different than the boring recitation and regurgitation of information that their other classes demand. He leads his students from the classroom to a hall, where he livens his audience with witty, intellectual humor initially, then not so witty (but still hilarious) comedy.
In the next class, Keating tells his students to rip out the entire introduction to their textbooks of poetry.
“No matter what anyone tells you, words and ideas can change the world.”
He brings joy to all of his students, even those who do not appreciate literature, poetry, and his teaching style.
After the suicide of one of his students, Keating is fired from Welton. His lessons are not forgotten by his students however.
It is interesting to consider Robin Williams own early life as I watch him have such a strong influence upon the adolescents of Welton Academy. He moved around much as a child, following his father in his job with Ford Motors. Williams graduated from Redwood High School in California, where he was voted “Most Likely Not to Suceed” and “Funniest.” Williams says that he was a shy boy, who really only came out of his shell when he began participating in the high school drama club.
After high school, Williams dropped out of college to pursue acting. He studied theater at a small community college until, in 1973, he received a full scholarship to the prestigious Julliard School in NYC. His professor there referred to him as a “human dynamo”, and advised Williams to leave after his junior year since “there was nothing else we could teach him.”
William’s performance in this movie makes me wonder if he had a teacher at some point in his life that motivated him to seize the day.
If anyone else is interested in watching The Dead Poet’s Society, I can direct you to several (perfectly legitimate) sources of finding movies online.
“‘That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.’ What will your verse be?”