The Emperor's Club (2002)

PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  22 November 2002 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 13,774 users   Metascore: 49/100
Reviews: 135 user | 83 critic | 32 from

An idealistic prep school teacher attempts to redeem an incorrigible student.



(short story "The Palace Thief"), (screenplay)
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2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Rishi Mehta ...
Gabriel Millman ...
Robert Brewster (as Gabe Millman)
Chris Morales ...
Eugene Field
Luca Bigini ...
Copeland Gray
Michael Coppola ...
Russell Hall
Mr. Harris
The Nun


William Hundert is a passionate and principled Classics professor who finds his tightly-controlled world shaken and inexorably altered when a new student, Sedgewick Bell, walks into his classroom. What begins as a fierce battle of wills gives way to a close student-teacher relationship, but results in a life lesson for Hundert that will still haunt him a quarter of a century later. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


In everyone's life there's that one person who makes all the difference.



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

22 November 2002 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Palace Thief  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,846,780 (USA) (22 November 2002)


$14,060,950 (USA) (24 January 2003)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Kevin Kline was obsessed with the handwriting that was seen in the film and he wanted to do it himself which is hours that the crew didn't have. They made fun of him the fact he misspelled the word Republic. See more »


Mr. Hundert misspells the word "republic" during one of the Julius Caesar tests. See more »


[first lines]
Valet: Is everything okay, sir?
William Hundert: Fine, thank you. Here.
[reaches into his pocket]
William Hundert: Let me, uh...
Valet: That's not necessary, sir.
[walks away]
William Hundert: [narrating] As I've gotten older, I realize I'm certain of only two things. Days that begin with rowing on a lake are better than days that do not. Second, a man's character is his fate. And as a student of history, I find this hard to refute. For most of us our stories can be written long before we die. There are exceptions among the great men of history, ...
See more »


References Breathless (1960) See more »


Funk 49
Written by Jim Fox, Joe Walsh, and Dale Peters
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User Reviews

A truly great idea in mediocre clothing
27 November 2002 | by (Washington, DC) – See all my reviews

I can see exactly why comparisons to Dead Poets' Society abound. Having attended boarding school and developed an irrational attachment to that film at the time, I have since discarded it like an overworn leisure suit, and tried to move on to more interesting fare. But honestly, this film made me think -- in all the ways that school should have, and the DPSociety didn't even try to.

Robin Williams has never starred in a thinking man's film, which is why, in the end, the comparison between the two movies doesn't hold up. To get The Emperor's Club, you have to actually grasp why someone might be inspired by history -- by a time when men could truly fail, or conquer, or establish a foothold in eternity. The fact that we know Socrates existed is astounding. It is luck. If James Carville goes down in history it will be an accident, if a likely one. The point of this film is that difference -- the difference between men whose character demands to be remembered, and men whose character demands to be forgotten. It is also the story of two systems of reward and recognition -- one that produced Plato and one that produced Jerry Springer. That is why we study history, as the movie says. To learn from and be inspired by the great leaders who came before us, and to overcome the moral mediocrity of the modern world.

But, as the film concludes, great men are no longer chosen to lead. The Emperor's Club, while cloaked in the guise of a charming elitist flick, is actually a tale of profound disappointment and disillusionment regarding human society. The few great men who are left exist in the shadows, while the ignorant grandstanders wield political power. We elect them; we are in their hands. And it is all because of a lack of awareness, a lack of knowledge, and a lack of history. People don't vote for principle -- they vote for rhetoric. And it shows.

I was not expecting too much from this movie, other than the always pleasurable experience of watching Kevin Kline. But, wrapped up in the sentimental moralizing, there was the story of a great man doing the only great thing left: trying to bring others out the darkness. His success or failure is as immaterial as the execution of Socrates -- it really is the thought that counts.

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Message Boards

Recent Posts
Let's compare teacher movies roghache
STOP comparing 'Emperor's Club' to 'Dead Poets Society'! dee-travis
Why was The Emperor's Club not nominated for Academy Awards? Haukdal
Should Hundert have been so very straight? threeoranges
Why it didnt succeed !? didi0074
New Dead Poet's Society? PeterKunze
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