Dead Poets Society (1989) Poster


To help his young leads bond, director Peter Weir had them all room together.
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What attracted Robin Williams to the role of John Keating more than anything else was that John Keating was the type of teacher he, in his school days, always wished he had.
When the boys show Professor Keating his old senior yearbook picture, it is, in reality, Robin Williams's high school senior picture when he was a student at Redwood High School in Larkspur, California, north of San Francisco.
Upon the death of Robin Williams in 2014, the famous line "O Captain! My Captain!" was used by many media outlets in his obituaries.
Director Peter Weir chose to shoot the film in chronological order to better capture the development of the relationships between the boys and their growing respect for Mr. Keating.
The scene where Todd cries outside in the snow was done in one take. It was originally an interior scene, but when it started to snow, Peter Weir thought the scene might have more impact if it were done outside. The snow was already beginning to let up so it had to be done in one take. Fortunately, Ethan Hawke managed it.
Liam Neeson had originally landed the leading role to be directed by Jeff Kanew, but lost it to Robin Williams when director Peter Weir came on board.
The part of John Keating was once intended for Dustin Hoffman. The film was also going to be Hoffman's directorial debut before Hoffman withdrew from the film.
The movie's line, "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary," was voted as the #95 movie quote by the American Film Institute (out of 100). The phrase comes from Odes 1.11 of Q. Horatius Flaccus (Horace), 65BC-8BC.
Peter Weir gave his young actors, playing the students, books that detailed what kids saw at the movies, listened to on the radio, and so on--a snapshot of life for teenagers in the 50s.
Robin Williams considered this movie to be one of his favorite films of his own, and considered Peter Weir to be the best director he had ever worked with.
The boy in the movie who says the line, "The cat sat on a mat," was a St. Andrew's student at the time. He earned more than his teachers that year.
The poem by Henry David Thoreau that is featured on the front page of the poetry book Neil receives is not an original poem by Thoreau. Rather, it is a rearrangement of sentences from his work "Where I Lived," Chapter Two from his seminal work, Walden. The passage containing the quotes seen in the movie actually reads, "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, ..."
Writer Tom Schulman's script was partly based on his own experiences at Montgomery Bell Academy, an all-boys preparatory school he attended in Nashville, Tennessee, and his professor there, Samuel F. Pickering Jr.
Ethan Hawke's first impression of director Peter Weir was that he "spoke funny." Weir was the first Australian that the young Hawke had ever met.
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 dialogue."
Norman Lloyd later recalled that Robin Williams was in a sober mood during filming, as he was going through a divorce at the time, and there was no joking around between takes.
River Phoenix wanted to play Neil Perry, but the part went to Robert Sean Leonard.
Although the film never actually cracked the number one spot at the box office, it still grossed 95.8 million dollars domestically, and over 235 million dollars worldwide.
This film is frequently shown to fraternity members during leadership seminars, because of the striking similarities between the film's plot and the historical events that led to the creation of fraternal organizations at universities in the United States in the late 18th century.
Originally slated to be filmed at Berry College in Rome, Georgia, the project was moved to Delaware because it would have been too expensive to create fake snow on the campus grounds.
Tom Schulman would occasionally receive phone calls from his former high school friends, asking if they had been depicted as some of the school boys in the film.
Director Peter Weir attended The Scots College, a private boys school in Sydney. The uniforms, discipline and overall feel of the school translated into many of the film's scenes. In 1994, a stage production of the film, the first in the world authorized by Touchstone Pictures, was put on by the school. Peter Weir attended the opening night and spoke about the making of the film.
According to a 1991 interview on Late Night with David Letterman (1982), Lara Flynn Boyle was told the day of the film's premier that she had been edited out of the film and should not attend the premier.
At the premiere, Kurtwood Smith saw a family with the father domineering his son very much like his own character in the film. After the film had finished, Smith noticed the family leave and saw that the father was crying.
Norman Lloyd was most surprised to discover that he was expected to audition for the film. Initially, he refused. He said that he had just finished six years of St. Elsewhere (1982) and that the producers should use that. He was told that Peter Weir was on location and had never seen Lloyd's TV series, so Lloyd finally acquiesced.
The draft that writer Tom Schulman sent out to the studios was his first one.
The tenth largest grossing film of the year at the U.S. box-office, and the fifth highest overseas. It surpassed two other blockbuster Disney releases, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and The Little Mermaid (1989).
Filmed at St. Andrews, a private boarding school in Delaware.
Initially, Peter Weir had planned to make Green Card (1990) in 1989, but Gérard Depardieu proved to be unavailable for a full year. Disney studio head Jeffrey Katzenberg suggested to Weir that he should make another film in the intervening year and handed him the script to Dead Poets Society (1989).
Bill Murray was once considered for the role of John Keating.
The first Touchstone Pictures release to receive a Best Picture Academy Award nomination.
The poem Charlie has copied some lines on the centerfold of Elaine Reynolds, Miss October 1959 is from Abraham Cowley's poem "The Prophet".
Extras used in movie were students from Delaware local high schools. This included the actual New Castle High School Band seen at pep rally scene.
Mel Gibson was originally slated to play John Keating when Jeff Kanew took the director's chair. Gibson demanded too much money and was turned down. Gibson had worked with Peter Weir twice before on Gallipoli and The Year of Living Dangerously.
A famous quote from the film is "Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary." Robin Williams previously appeared in a film titled Seize the Day (1986).
Mr. Perry (Kurtwood Smith) wants his son, Neil, to be a doctor. Robert Sean Leonard (Neil) would later play a doctor in House M.D. (2004).
In the opening scenes of the film, the boys are wearing military unit patch lapel pins.
Norman Lloyd was a bit put out when he had to audition for the role of Mr. Nolan. He made the decision while playing a tennis match, because he said it heightened his receptivity. When he won the match, he agreed to audition.
Knox Overstreet is studying with the expectations that he will be a prominent lawyer some day, just like his father. Josh Charles played law partner, Will Gardner, in The Good Wife (2009).
The mathematical formula for rating poetry by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard is PxI=G.
The poem that they all dance to the first night in the old Indian cave is called "The Congo: A Study of the Negro Race." By Vachel Lindsay.
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Included among the American Film Institute's 1998 list of the 400 movies nominated for the Top 100 Greatest American Movies.
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The Reverend Simon Mein, who plays the role of vicar actually was the vicar of St Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware where the movie was filmed.
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Alec Baldwin was considered for John Keating.
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The movie has been described by some - including costar Ethan Hawke - as "One Flew Over the Robin's Nest" ...a loose recollection in which Robin Williams has the Jack Nicholson role, Norman Lloyd has Louise Fletcher's, and Robert Sean Leonard is in Brad Dourif's.
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Mickey Rourke turned down the role of John Keating when Peter Weir refused to make script changes.
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The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

Originally, Professor Keating was supposed to die of leukemia, but director Peter Weir decided to have the story focus on the boys instead.
In the very last scene, Cameron was supposed to stand on his desk as well, but Dylan Kussman vetoed the idea because he did not think it was in character. He was surprised when director Peter Weir agreed.
Elsewhere on this page, it's stated that the film was shot in chronological order. Following this line of reasoning, after shooting the scene in which Neil kills himself, Peter Weir kept Robert Sean Leonard off the set and didn't let him communicate with the other actors in order to create a real sense of losing a friend.

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