Written by Joe Gause
What can be said about Dead Poets Society that has not been said before? This is what I consider a landmark in filmmaking. Director Peter Weir demonstrated true vision in the film process to deliver what some call an epic cinematic achievement. Combine that with an all-star cast (though many of them were just starting their careers), and it’s a true work of genius.
OK, now that you can clearly see I’m a fan of this movie, let me tell you why. The film centers around a group of prep school boys: Neil Perry ( Robert Sean Leonard), Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawk) and Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles). New to the school this year is English teacher John Keating (Robin Williams). His method of teaching is considered by the staff as unconventional and reckless. Nevertheless he reaches the boys and encourages them to follow their dreams and think for themselves. The film demonstrates the conflict between trying to please your parents and following your own ambitions. It also touches on the touchy subject of teachers and what their bounds should be in regards to their relationships with students. I first watched this film in high school, and to this day I think it should be a mandatory film for all high school students as well as teachers to watch. It’s no wonder why practically everyone in this film went on to have very impressive careers.
From story line to acting, nothing in this film falls short. I only wish it had been longer. I would have even liked to see a sequel. I say that only because you truly fall in love with these characters and want to know what happens to them next. But it’s probably best they never filmed a sequel; Hollywood probably would have screwed it up.
Blu-ray version comes in 1080p high-definition widescreen ( 1.85:1 ) Unfortunately this is an older film and it originally had a grainy look to it, so it transfers to the Blu-ray version. It still was film quite brilliantly using dark colors to set the mood. But all in all the black level was right on, and the whites were dead on. But if you’re one of those Hi Def fanatics who love to see crystal clear picture, this one falls a bit short.
Blu-ray comes in English 5.1 DTS-HD MA. Not a whole lot to talk about here, folks. The film has a nice score, but nothing to make the subs go boom. And honestly, it doesn’t need it. All the dialog is clearly heard, and honestly that all that’s important in this film.
This disk is full of great special features.
“Dead Poets” a look back: interviews with the cast and crew as well as the writer and director. A wonderful look back at the film and what it meant to everyone and what it still means to them today. Definitely worth taking the time to watch.
Raw takes: Just like it says, these are the takes without editing and effects; you get a few laughs and some improving. Falls short of being called a gag reel , but it’s somewhat entertaining.
A closer look at both the sound and cinematography of the film: for myself it was entertaining, being I am a filmmaker myself. But for the average fan I’m sure this would most likely put you to sleep.
Audio commentary: with Director Peter Weir, Cinematographer John Seale and Writer Tom Schulman. Honestly, with such a star-studded cast, this was a letdown. With so many stars they could have gotten to sit down to do a commentary track, to have these three guys was a total snooze fest.
Although there were a lot of special features, only the first one is worth checking out.
All in all, this is a must have for any movie collection. If you have loved it for years, buy it for the special features or just to have it look good on your shelf. If you have never seen it, well, shame on you! Buy this disk and watch it a few times. I promise you will laugh, cry, and most likely look at your life in a different way. I know it changed my life when I first saw it. Of course I wasn’t one of the posers who ran out and got Carpe Diem tattooed! Although I did think about it!