Blame the Critics – Dead Poets Society (1989)


There’s a question I never dared to ask. Is Dead Poets Society a bad movie? At first, I was bit baffled. I mean it all started from Ranker, which is a great,
reliable source, by the way. I’m so not sick of
hearing that word “hipster.” People are so scared of hipsters these days. I wasn’t aware of this until recently, but there’s apparently been
a zombie apocalypse, where everyone’s becoming hipsters. The doctors gave
a national warning a few weeks ago, that Wes Anderson movies
could trigger even more infections. I’m just kidding. Then why is Dead Poets Society pretentious? Actually, the people
who call it as such are teachers and writers. The real people of literature and education. But don’t get me wrong, these people are only “some” of the whole group. In my home country, South Korea, I’ve seen so many teachers
who quoted, mentioned, and even modeled
their teaching methods after Dead Poets Society. “Oh Captain, My Captain!” “Poetry, beauty, romance, love… These are what we stay alive for.” “Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. ‘Cause the longer you wait to begin,
the less likely you are to find it at all.” But for those who don’t like this movie – they have pretty good reasons. As for the education aspect of it, they don’t hesitate to ask:
is John Keating a good teacher? They say his methods
are very Machiavellian – which means he was forceful, like forcing the kids
to do all the unnecessary activities, like marching around the courtyard, doing PE while yelling out a line from a poem. They definitely didn’t like it, when he called up
the shyest kid in the class to improvise, giving him a near nervous breakdown. And overall, they thought
the movie got the idea of education wrong. I can’t ignore the fact that Mr. Keating
is known for his inspiring and engaging way of teaching. Being able to work
with his students like that, is definitely a job well done as a teacher. But as far as Dead Poets Society
goes with its script, Mr. Keating’s personality,
even the characters of his students are just shallow caricatures. The movie is focused on events like suicide
and Mr. Keating getting fired, but nothing’s detailed. We don’t have any answers to things like,
where is Mr. Keating from? Does he have a story behind his teaching style? Most of us don’t even remember all the kids,
because we never got to know them properly. It feels like they’re just props someone picked
up from a box with a label called “teenagers.” In the end, the only character we remember
is Mr. Keating, as he was the teacher
who made an unforgettable impression on us. Making an impression is the main thing
Dead Poets Society did, which resulted in shallow characters and dramatic plot. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Because we’re not caught up with the characters,
we focus on the plot. We’re more focused on what Mr. Keating does. We don’t try to figure out who he is; we don’t have to. In a way, we’re already giving our full trust to him. And perhaps we were already thinking of
Mr. Keating as a reliable teacher. …maybe worth writing a conspiracy theory
around this. Maybe. If this movie’s all about making good impressions,
then is it also the case for Mr. Keating’s classes? Yeah. Absolutely. His classes are very introductory. He never goes in depth with the poetry
he claims to love so much. To the public, this is not much of a problem. However, to the people of literature,
this is a great fault. In real life, when we start reading poetry,
we don’t even know how to go about it at all. Just like Shakespeare. I mean, look at Hamlet. The line “To be or not to be, that is the
question,” is like a big stone wall blocking my way
into liking any Shakespeare. I’m looking at those tight pants, a sword
and a skull, and I’m already thinking of Zelda. Oh I forgot. His name is Link. Then again, we only get to see
20 minutes of Mr. Keating teaching, and 2 hours of him not teaching,
so if he did get a chance, he would’ve showed us more. Hey I can hear some of you scoffing, but come on. Let me say his classes are
a breath of fresh air. Especially so for the kids. During my years in a South Korean public high school – which is a lot like American private high schools, like, uniforms, demanding parents
and exam-obsessed teachers, shoving information into your brain…
you get the picture. “Oh shut up, will you?” I was a lot like Todd, and if you don’t know
who that is, that’s Ethan Hawke. I’ve always been so introverted that every
time I got called up, I was blushing like a ripened tomato,
whatever that means. with blood flushing upwards and hands getting cold. It felt like my lungs shrunk so I couldn’t
breathe properly. Some people said Mr. Keating was wrong for
getting Todd in front of the class against his will. No. It’s okay. I was okay with it too. Actually, I wanted to be called up. I wanted to perform. I wanted something to happen in my boring
little life, where I was in this school for 16 hours every day. It was this stifling school life that almost
made me have a near nervous breakdown, not being called up. Plus, it’s always a good sign when a teacher
trusts you enough to help you through it. But I’ll talk more about that later. What Mr. Keating tried to show us, as much
as the time limitation of 20 minutes allowed him, were individuality-
the ability to think by ourselves, and taking responsibility from that freedom. Everyone knows about the first one. The last one, though, mostly goes unnoticed. Remember when Dalton
made a scene with the telephone? “It says we should have girls at Welton.” [LAUGHTER] Later he was in the principal’s office
to get thrashed, which was prevalent in the 1950s boarding
schools around the world, and who knows the ‘tradition’ is still around. Mr. Keating came by to say to Dalton, Think free for yourself,
but take responsibility for your actions. You can fly, but don’t fly too close to the sun. Probably one of the best life advices you
can get. [THUMP] Other than his style of teaching, people were
upset about how Mr. Keating taught poetry. He quoted Thoreau, Whitman, Frost,
all the giants of American literature, but his interpretations were often wrong. He ripped up poems into sentences
like taglines on movie posters. What happens here is that the context is gone,
the flow is ruined, the rhyme is butchered, and the overall meaning gets ruined. This shallow use of literature is the worst
thing about Dead Poets Society, and this has been called out as pretentious. It’s a shame. It’s a great shame that they didn’t do much
research to get it right. Considering the drama, shallow characters
and subject matter, it seems this lack of depth and pretentiousness
were planned from the beginning. So, I can’t really blame the movie. Getting things right is one of the most difficult
things to do as a filmmaker. People are always complaining about inaccuracies, but when you think about pressures
from production companies, every delay costing a lot of money… Have some mercy on them, you don’t even remember what you learned from high school, and you’re expecting them
to understand that much of science? [MUSIC] “Bill Nye the Science Guy!” Think about Kubrick and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Research took years, to the point where
he met people from NASA in person, and got the movie right, just so that he could be, decades later, presumed as faking the moon landing. Which would you choose? Getting blamed for your lack of research
or too much of it? I dunno man, I’m out, it sucks any other way… The best thing about Mr. Keating is none of
those I mentioned so far. How much he believes in his students
surprised me above all else, and this is the one that took my vote
for Mr. Keating as a great teacher. He showed appreciation for the smallest efforts. KEATING: Congratulations, Mr. Hopkins, you have the first poem to have
a negative score on the Pritchard scale. [LAUGHTER] I don’t mind that your poem had a simple theme, Sometimes the most beautiful poetry
can be about simple things. Just don’t let your poems be ordinary. He showed grace and respect to his students
and never left a student feel left out. And this students respected him back. I stopped halfway when I was talking about Todd. Yeah, it is a gamble, when you try to make
an unwilling student to do something in front of the class, even more so because he had nothing prepared. But Mr. Keating constantly let him know that
Todd was not alone. He kept talking to Todd. He watched him closely, reacted to his anxiety,
and believed he could do something special. And then, all of a sudden, they weren’t being
watched anymore. They were together in this little safe place. On the screen we see only those two for some time. We don’t see the crowd. And then, Mr. Keating let go of Todd,
went offstage, and crouched down so Todd could do this by himself, and he did it. ANDERSON: …cover your face,
as you wail, cry, and scream. [APPLAUSE] Dead Poets Society used this great metaphor
of the teacher appearing through the door, and then leaving the door,
like how teachers appear into people’s lives, and leave them just like the way they came in. Everyone has a teacher in their lives. But they’re people of everyone’s past and history. We barely revisit them, and they are rarely remembered. But when the kids stood up on their desks
at the end of the movie, they defied that. It’s a great honor for any teacher to be remembered. And Mr. Keating got a great non-verbal sign
from the kids saying, “I’ll remember you.” “Your voice of guidance will forever echo in our hearts. Thank you.” As for the verdict, I think it’s a waste of
time hating a movie so much. What’s your favorite movie? When you’re blaming the movies because of
their inaccuracies and meaninglessness, why not try for something else? Mainstream movies aren’t everything. On the other side,
there are experimental movies, or as some people like to call them, “art movies.” I don’t think they’re art all the time, though; some of them are absolute pretentious garbage, as bad as some mainstream movies. But the experimental movies are significantly different, considering the fact that they encourage you to explore. Long takes, animations, flashing images, set designs, even silent movies that make you go,
“how did they do that?” Try those movies and explore new worlds. Don’t be quick to judge movies. Don’t miss out on what we have to offer. And who knows, you might find something
that’ll speak to your soul.

2 thoughts on “Blame the Critics – Dead Poets Society (1989)

  1. Sorry about the framerates dropping all over the video. I've deleted all the files so reupload cannot be done. I'll make sure this doesn't happen again.

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