Dead Poets Society (1989)

PETER WEIR

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.  

USA, 1989.  Touchstone Pictures, Silver Screen Partners IV, A Steven Haft Production, Witt/Thomas Productions.  Screenplay by Tom Schulman.  Cinematography by John Seale.  Produced by Steven Haft, Paul Junger Witt, Tony Thomas.  Music by Maurice Jarre.  Production Design by Wendy Stites.  Costume Design by Eddie Marks.  Film Editing by William M. Anderson.  Academy Awards 1989.  Golden Globe Awards 1989National Board Of Review Awards 1989.  

Students aim to survive the constraints of social and academic pressures at an all-boys prep school in the fifties in a film that is really a Disney teen flick given more important trappings by adding poetry readings and a mortal tragedy.  is terrific as the male Jean Brodie who shows up and gives these boys something more to reach for than just prestige and blue-blooded tradition but it eventually sees him crossing lines that he cannot return from.  Subplots like the geeky prep school boy who is in love with the blonde public school cheerleader who is dating the captain of the football team reveal the con going on here, that you’re not watching something particularly original, but it does have an attitude of sincerity thanks to Peter Weir’s typically excellent direction that never lets it feel obnoxious. The film’s main grace comes from Williams, and it’s much better than later fodder like School Ties or The Emperor’s Club.

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