Dead Poets Society DVD £2.97 at Amazon
Peter Weir’s entry in the "coming of age" teen movie genre, Dead Poets’ Society is a more than usually emotive tale of one teacher and the students he inspires. Robin Williams plays the radical English teacher in a stuffy New England prep school who tries to make a difference. His unconventional methods and love of poetry make him a hit with the repressed teens under his tutelage, and they in turn form a secret society for the pursuit of freedom, truth, beauty and other bohemian ideals. Much soul-searching ensues, not least from the doe-eyed Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) whose sensitive aspirations to pursue a career in the theatre are scuppered by his prosaic father with tragic consequences.
True, the script is clichéd at times and the battle between adults and teens is hackneyed, but no one can deny the emotional power of the "Captain My Captain" scene, where the class defiantly stand on their desks, or the moment when Williams inspires his class with the motto "Carpe Diem". Indeed it is the relationship between Williams and his pupils that enables Weir to raise the film above what could have been over-sentimental slosh, with Williams’ trademark improvised monologues injecting humanity (even in a relatively serious role) into the central character. The result is an inspirational story that stands up to repeat viewings.