Dead Poets Society, 1989 // Movie Review

Discussion Questions:

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below! I’d love to hear your input on these. 🙂

  • What is the main message of the story? And how does it fit into your worldview of life (how to live) and death?
    • What are the pros of adopting Carpe Diem as a practical philosophy for living? And is it really practical?
    • What does Carpe Diem lack? And what can it ultimately lead to, taken by itself?
  • Why do you think Neil decided to do it? What should he have done?
  • Keating was blamed by the administration but not by the students – who do you think is right, if anyone in the story is right?
  • To be mentally prepared for situations/crises is an essential step toward preventing desperate choices from being executed. In other words, do not ever ignore difficult possibilities, bit explore and decide what should be done in those situations – before they happen. Do you think this is a good preventative for suicide? Why or why not? And if not, what can be the proper responses for suicide and its prevention?
  • In light of this discussion, what would you change about this story and why?

Some Other Thoughts…

We each have different struggles, but I’ve found it never hurts to think through what I may do and or verses what I should do if I was placed in another person’s struggles/situation. So, just because you may never have been tempted to thoughts of suicide does not necessarily mean you may never will have them either. So it will be very beneficial to have an “escape plan” if you ever find yourself being vulnerable in the future.

A big one, I think, is open and truthful communication with another soul. Here’s a relevant quote that I don’t remember from who/where: “You are NEVER “the only one” even though you believe or even think you know with all your heart that you are. You really are special, but not in that way, I assure you.”

There’s always hope. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Dead Poets Society, 1989 // Movie Review

  1. Wow, I really enjoyed reading over this (even for a second time! 😉 ). I was struck again by your “love/hate relationship” with this movie and I pretty much agree. I first watched this movie when I was very young and the (no spoilers :)) outcome of one of the young student’s attempts at following the philosophy of his teacher overshadowed the other parts and utterly depressed me and I have, ever since, hated the movie. However, you have made me think back about that and to “the other parts.”

    Perhaps one day I’ll watch it again and find more than I did the first time. Or maybe I’ll be able to handle it better.

    Anyways, I very much enjoyed your review! I found it insightful and thoughtful.

    (Also I had no idea you could have multiple pages on post. 😮 Fascinating, and very clever.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much!! I do think if I watched it when I was in my younger/maybe HS days it would have felt different (less clear vision I guess). The movie encouraged me to start thinking about those themes more, which I appreciate. 🙂

      Let me know when/if you get to rewatch it and tell me if I missed anything (story-wise, analysis-wise, or just perspective-wise)!

      *bows again*

      (Yeah! I came across the Pages feature by accident 😛 inserted a page break and look what I’ve found… :D)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was so excited to see that you had posted your first review! Especially when I saw which movie you had chosen!
    I personally love this movie, so obviously my opinions are going to be biased here. I agree that this movie is well acted, with excellent characters, and that the morality of it is somewhat ambiguous. However, I tend to prefer movies that need this kind of analysis over the ones that hand a message to you. How I interpret it is close to what you said about Neil not being able to openly communicate with his parents, and that was what caused the tragedy. When Keating talked to Neil, he encouraged him to talk to his father about his desire to be an actor. He encouraged communication. But Neil felt like he KNEW the outcome, and he felt trapped. That is the tragedy. Not that he actually WAS trapped, but that he FELT trapped. He didn’t KNOW what would have happened if he had tried to talk to his parents. His perception led him to believe that there was only one way out, and as an audience member, you could conclude that that was what the filmmakers intended (and for all I know, maybe it was) but I just see a kid who couldn’t bring himself to stand up and truly seize the day. It’s complicated of course. And I don’t know if what I am saying actually makes sense. I agree that a lot of the themes in this movie could be taken the wrong way, but overall I enjoy it as a story and I think it is true enough to life that we can draw our own conclusions from it.
    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think where carpe diem breaks down is when it’s in combination with our sinful natures and other baggage we are carrying. I think that what Neil did was draw a conclusion from what his teacher was saying that wasn’t what his teacher intended. What Keating did was bring to light issues that Neil already had. He didn’t create the issues. Neil had them already, they were just buried. We all have to confront our baggage at some point, and it’s not going to be pretty. All Keating did was cause Neil to face his baggage sooner than later. I don’t think it’s right to blame what happened on Keating though. When Neil got to the point where he was confronted with the choice, he made the choice himself. Based on the issues he had, it was a decision he would have to make eventually- the issues wouldn’t have just stayed buried. What he chose to do was a twisted version of what carpe diem means. That being said, teachers have a heavy responsibility. They have a huge impact on their students. That is one thing that is shown in this story. As a teacher, you have to be careful about what your students are taking away from what you teach. But I think the fact that Keating gave Neil advice and strongly encouraged him to talk to his father shows that what Keating was trying to teach and what Neil ultimately concluded were not the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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