6.9/10
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142 user 82 critic

The Emperor's Club (2002)

PG-13 | | Drama | 22 November 2002 (USA)
Trailer
0:34 | Trailer

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

Director:

Michael Hoffman

Writers:

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kevin Kline ... William Hundert
Emile Hirsch ... Sedgewick Bell
Embeth Davidtz ... Elizabeth
Rob Morrow ... James Ellerby
Edward Herrmann ... Headmaster Woodbridge
Harris Yulin ... Senator Bell
Paul Dano ... Martin Blythe
Rishi Mehta ... Deepak Mehta
Jesse Eisenberg ... Louis Masoudi
Gabriel Millman Gabriel Millman ... Robert Brewster (as Gabe Millman)
Chris Morales Chris Morales ... Eugene Field
Luca Bigini Luca Bigini ... Copeland Gray
Michael Coppola Michael Coppola ... Russell Hall
Sean Fredricks ... Mr. Harris
Katherine O'Sullivan ... The Nun
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

22 November 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Palace Thief See more »

Filming Locations:

New Jersey, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,846,780, 24 November 2002, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$14,060,950, 26 January 2003
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS

Color:

Color (purple)| Color (RED)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When filming the movie, the location (Emma Willard school in Troy, NY) was still operating as a girl's school. Emile Hirsch reportedly complained about the students, claiming that they were pestering him for his phone number. He also (reportedly) said some unsavory things about the school in general. When the students heard about this, they demanded an apology from Hirsch, which he delivered in front of the entire student body. At the school viewing, whenever he appeared on screen, the girls booed loudly and stories about him still circulate through the student body. See more »

Goofs

After Mr. Hundert hits the car window with the baseball, he holds the bat in his right hand. In the next shot, before he drops the bat to the ground, he holds it with his left hand. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

References Breathless (1960) See more »

Soundtracks

Funk 49
Written by Jim Fox, Joe Walsh, and Dale Peters
Performed by James Gang
Courtesy of MCA Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A truly great idea in mediocre clothing
27 November 2002 | by kcrawfordSee 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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