“Carpe diem” is Latin for “seize the day” and is one of the main messages that are emphasized in the brilliant movie, Dead Poets Society. Although we do not realize it most of the time, film takes up a huge part of our lives, whether it’s on MBC2, Netflix or in the cinema. Film is one of the approaches used to tackle real life problems and acknowledge the social and cultural differences we face in this modern, globalized world.
Dead Poets Society is a drama released in 1989, written by Tom Schulman and directed by Peter Weir. It is based on a book that was based on a true story.
To put the plot into simple words, the movie tells the story of a group of seven boys who study at a very conservative school, Welton Academy. The students meet their new English teacher, Mr. Keating, who is played by Robin Williams. Unlike Welton Academy, Mr. Keating encourages non-conformity and individuality and tries to follow unconventional teaching methods to connect with the boys. Later on, the boys find an old yearbook showing Mr. Keating, also a Welton alumnus, as part of a “Dead Poets Society”. This society, they find out, was a secret one in which members would meet in an old cave, share their thoughts and feelings, and read poetry. Consequently, the boys were inspired to start the society again, against school rules.
Following the teachings of Mr. Keating, Neil Perry, the protagonist of the movie played by Robert Leonard, decides to pursue his dream of acting rather than fulfill his father’s expectations of becoming a doctor. This storyline progresses only to become the main plot of the movie, but I don’t want to ruin the ending for you…
Mr. Keating happens to be one of my all-time favorite characters, for he is one captivating, down-to-earth character, whom everyone can find a way to relate to.
Going back to his teachings and philosophies, Mr. Keating taught his students to find their voice and think for themselves, because even though we all have a need for acceptance, we must be true to ourselves. No matter how odd or unpopular, “you must strive to find your own voice, because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all”. Another lesson Mr. Keating reassured in the movie was that of perspective. Standing on top of his desk, he would tell his students that they must always remember to see things from different perspectives; from people’s different points of view. Finally, Mr. Keating preaches that “carpe diem” philosophy, showing his students and audience how important it is to live life to the fullest.
“Words and ideas can change the world,” Mr. Keating would say, and that is why this movie in particular, and all movies in general, play a significant role in transmitting ideas and leaving an impact on people.