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Dead Poets Society (1989)

PG  |   |  Comedy, Drama  |  9 June 1989 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 259,065 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 477 user | 94 critic | 14 from Metacritic.com

English teacher John Keating inspires his students to discover their love for poetry and seize the day.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 17 wins & 18 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gale Hansen ...
Carla Belver ...
Leon Pownall ...
George Martin ...
Joe Aufiery ...
Matt Carey ...


Painfully shy Todd Anderson has been sent to the school where his popular older brother was valedictorian. His room-mate, Neil, although exceedingly bright and popular, is very much under the thumb of his overbearing father. The two, along with their other friends, meet Professor Keating, their new English teacher, who tells them of the Dead Poets Society, and encourages them to go against the status quo. Each, in their own way, does this, and are changed for life. Written by Liz Jordan <c9310494@alinga.newcastle.edu.au>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary.


Comedy | Drama


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

9 June 1989 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Club der toten Dichter  »

Box Office


$16,400,000 (estimated)


$95,860,116 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


To guide his lead actor Robin Williams, Peter Weir called the character "Robin Keating" as he wanted the scripted character to be "shaded with 15 percent of Williams' own off-the-cuff dialog". See more »


Near the beginning, starlings honk like geese. See more »


John Keating: We're not laughing at you - we're laughing near you.
See more »


Featured in 20 to 1: 50 to 01: Great Movie One Liners (2007) See more »


Stranded in the Jungle
Written by Al Curry, James Johnson and Ernestine Smith
Performed by The Cadets
Courtesy of Kent Records
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User Reviews

Seize the Day- One of the Greatest Movies Ever!
17 November 2008 | by (USA) – See all my reviews

Dead Poets Scoiety. I suppose if you were in High School sometime between 1990-2008, one of your teachers thought I'd be a good idea to watch this movie and I still remember my reaction and the ones of our fellow classmates: Yeah, probably a boring movie that will try to make the school look better and encourage us to do our homework and study for our tests. I couldn't have been more wrong. This movie definitely changed my way of thinking to a certain extent and there are very few films who have moved and touched me like this one.

The movie plays in 1959 and centers around a private academy somewhere in New England. The curriculum is extremely difficult and the teachers have no humor and are very strict. The new English teacher though, Mr John Keating (Robin Williams), who graduated from the very same school, uses unorthodox, but quite effective methods to teach the students about literature, and poetry. During their first lesson, he tells them that they can either call him Mr. Keating or "Oh Captain, my Captain", based on a quote by Walt Whitman. He encourages them to come out of themselves, use their energy to make their lives worth living and beautiful - Carpe Diem, Seize the Day! The plot also centers around two students: Neil (Robert Sean Leonard), who is funny and popular, but fails to gain his fathers pride, because of his wish to become an actor, and Todd (Ethan Hawke), who is very shy and unsure of himself, and is inspired by Keating to use his imagination and eventually we find out that he is very talented when it comes to poetry. After they find out about a club Keating was a member of while he was a student, the Dead Poets Society, which was forbidden by the school, they decide to reestablish it, what ultimately gets them into a lot of trouble.

There are several key factors, that make this movie as brilliant as it is. First of all there is the acting. Robin Williams, who I really like as a Comedian, really proves that he is a great actor, who can get deep into a character and play him with such passion and energy that you will forget he's an actor. Keating, whose teaching methods are indeed unusual and will probably make you laugh a couple of times, is a very interesting role, the teacher we all would have wanted, but not because he doesn't give homework or makes up very easy, open-book tests. No, because Keating shows us that we have to come out of ourselves, make the best of our lives and especially that there is a poet in everyone of us. Then there is the terribly under-appreciated Robert Sean Leonard, who also gives a very moving performance as a student, who is kept back by his father, and therefore fails to make his dreams come true. In my opinion he is very underused as an actor, and should have gotten a lot more leading roles. As for Ethan Hawke, he definitely was the best choice for the character he plays. We can literally feel his fear and shyness when he stands in front of the class and gets no word out, because he's so embarrassed.

Peter Weir, who is probably most known for his recent movie "Master and Commander" shows what a great director he is with this film and it definitely deserved the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, and the nominations for Best Picture, Director and Leading Actor for Robin Williams.

Some of you may have heard about Roger Ebert absolutely negative review of this movie and that "he wanted to throw up at the end of the film". I can understand why people might not like the ending (I won't put any spoilers), but I think it just adds to the the beauty and drama of this film, a film that should definitely be on the IMDb Top 250 Movies. This is a movie, you must have seen!!

27 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Neil still would have done what he did eventually midwestmoviemaven
Mr. Perry's Unreasonable Demand GrafZeppelin127
Anybody else disturbed by the 'messages' of the film ? calcaylor
Some of you seem to be completely missing the point. illbeoneasystreet
Neil's mother was a TRAITOR! willrogers
I hate it when... patchdyer
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