English 101 10/6/11 Dead Poet’s Society What happens at an all-boy, rich, private academy? I don’t know, but the Dead Poet’s Society gives us a good inside look at what goes on in this particular one: Welton Academy. This clip shows a very innovative teacher on the first day of school, trying to reach out to his students with an unorthodox way of teaching, especially for Welton. Through stereotypes, camera angles and shots, the tone and lack of music, the director creates an ambiance that directs the viewer to see the implicit and explicit messages towards education.
Based in the 1950’s, this movie is about a new English and poetry teacher who is determined to teach his boys to live life with ultimate passion and love it. A group of his students take such teachings to heart and decide to recreate the Dead Poet’s Society, a secret club that meets in a cave and discusses poetry and philosophy, which is forbidden at Welton Academy because they discourage students from thinking for themselves. In this, the students begin to embark on their own adventures to follow their heart’s desires, which can lead down a difficult path for some of them.
This particular scene is the first day of school with the new teacher, Mr. Keating. He walks past his students and out the door expecting them to follow. He takes them to the foyay, which houses all of the old pictures of Welton students. All of the pictures are black and white. Mr. Keating asks one of the students to read the beginning of a poem “To The Virgin’s To Make Much of Time”. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old times are still a flying. And this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying. The significance of this poem is the motto that he hopes to instill in his students: Carpe Diem. He has the boys lean in, in silence, and look at the pictures. While studying the past, Mr. Keating slowly, eerily, whispers “Carpe…carpe… carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary. “ The clip ends with the boys walking out of his class and discussing the fact that he’s “weird” or “different”, even “spooky”. The director uses stereotypes a lot in this clip. He has the do-gooder teacher, who just wants to instill some kind of life value in his students.
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He doesn’t want them going out into the world with no passion for life. We see a typical sick “nerd”, who is constantly blowing or wiping his nose, and is weary of the new teacher’s methods. He gets picked on all the time. For instance in the very beginning of the clip, other students are throwing paper balls at him before the teacher walks out. The “cool guy” is used to demonstrate that there’s always the kid who sits in the back, too cool to participate, but when he does all he wants to do is make a joke, even if he is wrong.
He is mostly used for humorous purposes, but can also be there for sentimental purposes when needed. The director does a lot of camera shots back and forth from the teacher to the students. He tends to focus on each of the main characters rather than on the more insignificant characters. He shows the “house of Welton” which is just the shape of a house around an old picture of Welton students. When the director is focusing on the pictures, many times he seems to focus on a single boy. Which is a way of showing that all the boys but fend for themselves because there aren’t many allies in this world.
He also focuses on the trophy in the picture bow. This can represent that Welton Academy prides itself on triumph and excellence, not on mediocrity. At one point the camera scans over each boy in the class, showing that they are all one, which a private school likes to pride itself on, but also on the conformity of a private school with all the boys looking very similar. The lack of music presents an eerie tone to the movies during this clip. Mr. Keating exits his office while whistling, not a word spoken until he tells the boys to follow.
While they are all gathered around the table there is no talking until Mr. Keating does. And usually in parts you’d think that music would be, when he is talking about the significance of Carpe Diem, there is just silence. This presents a thought provoking moment. When all the boys are looking at the pictures in silence, it is a very emotional part, even though there is no sound. Mr. Keating is so incredibly passionate when he talks about Crape Diem, and seizing the day. He is so motivating I how he presents his views on life.
He uses humor to connect with his students, even when they don’t really know how to react to it all. Some of his speech is even a bit morbid, but that kind of talking is the way that he wants to reach his students. He wants them to yearn for their life, not just live it but also crave it. He is a man who takes his love for life seriously and believes that every boy must be able to love his life just eh same. And if that means that they must bend a few rules and go beyond what they thought they could then so be it.
It is such a philosophy that many private schools end to deture their students from having. This clip shows just small part but also a big idea that the director wanted to introduce to the audience. We are meant to love life, not stifle our passions into what other believes we should be passionate about. The director does a lot with this short clip in being able to show that Mr. Keating has a very different outlook on life and wants to motivate his students to have the same. Through his different camera shots, which focus on each boy individually and then also a great deal on Mr.
Keating, the silent tone and the many different stereotypes, the director makes his point perfectly clear. The private institutions are meant for conformity and Mr. Keating is definitely one to go against the conforming nature of the Academy system. There is hope for the students, they just need to believe and learn to have the same lust for life that Mr. Keating so eagerly wants to instill in them. But the education system is not easily trumped it takes a lot of passion and desire to be able to become an individual in a world of conformists.
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