Thursday, April 3, 2014

Dear Jodie - D is for Dead Poet's Society

Jodie and I are doing tandem movie reviews, as we do for our Facebook page Dear Rocky Dear Jodie: The Actor and the Psychologist At the Movies.  We hope you enjoy them, find them provocative.  Whether you agree with us, or disagree please comment!  We welcome them all.  Thank you, Arlee Bird and everyone who does such a magnificent job with this challenge!!!


Dear Jodie,

The late Sir Winston Churchill once said, 'Personally, I'm always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught.”

In Dead Poets Society John Keating (Robin Williams) does not teach. He creates a beautiful atmosphere for the boys in Welton Academy to learn through the world of poetry.  They learn well, far more than the stodgy, antiquated administration represented by the misguided and cruel headmaster Mr. Nolan (Norman Lloyd) could tolerate.

I watch this movie every few years, and fondly remember the very few teachers (and they were rare) I ever had who created such an atmosphere. One of those teachers I am FB friends with to this day.  She recently retired.

I love, love, love this movie. I love, love, love Robin Williams’ performance despite occasional bouts of his usual shtick. I love to hate the abominable Mr. Nolan for believing that such cruelty is an effective educational tool.  That kind of “discipline” is designed to keep people under control not to teach.

I, too, was beaten like that in grade school, with wooden boards and sawed-off baseball bats, with the occasional belt thrown in for good measure.

It didn't teach. 

Two other outstanding performances come to mind: Robert Sean Leonard as Neil, and Ethan Hawke as Todd.  Both ended up being breakthrough performances, and deservedly so.  Both had amazing emotional ranges for actors so young, and a firm control of their respective instruments.

No wonder they’ve worked consistently since.

Hard to believe that both Ethan Hawke and Matthew McConaughey are Texas boys, they are so different.

Just as an oh-by-the-way, Norman Lloyd, the actor who portrayed the vile Mr. Nolan, will turn 100 years old on November 8, the fates willing. He was one half of the longest standing Hollywood marriage.  When his wife Peggy passed away in 2011, they had been married 75 years.

I love stories like that, too.

That the poets studied in the movie were all dead white guys, unfortunately, was a product of the times.  Still, I give this a solid 8 out of 10.

Read Jodie's review here!



  1. One of my favorite movies. And I did read it was one of Robin Williams favorite roles too. Oh, to have had a teacher like that!

    1. As always, thank you so much. I heard it was one of his favorites as well!

  2. Great movie that inspired me to love Whitman. Nicely written review.

    1. Thanks, Evan! I wasn't a huge Whitman fan before this movie. I'm with you. This movie inspired me to love Whitman!

  3. I loved this movie too, and was shocked to recently learn that my husband has never seen it. I need to remedy that soon! And now when I watch it I'll be able to hate Mr. Nolan a little less :)

    1. Your husband definitely needs to see it! Thanks for commenting!


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