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Post 0

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 1:13amSanction this postReply
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I, too, love this movie. The hero is a great teacher. He emphasizes independence and courage. The wonderful last scene conveys a glimpse of the impact a teacher can have on young minds. After being inspired by Dead Poets Society, I began writing poetry - an activity I have pursued for the last ten years.


Post 1

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 6:51amSanction this postReply
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Any movie or message that teaches me to think for myself is like gold so fresh you can eat it.  I haven't seen this movie, I've been saving it for when I needed serious inspiration.  Now is a good time, thank you for the write up.

Julia


Post 2

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 6:52amSanction this postReply
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I watched the movie when I was younger, before I knew anything about objectivism.

The main thing I remember about it is being impressed with the positive spirit of "sucking the marrow from life" and "Carpe Diem - Seize the Day".

I do remember thinking that the whole "suicide" story and resulting tragedy was a bit contrived - but I think I will have to watch it again.


Post 3

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 7:45amSanction this postReply
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Dead Poets Society has hundreds of positive, enthusiastic and inspired hits all over Google.  I have yet to find someone who did not like it, except those who loved it.

According to Wikipedia:
It won the Academy Award for Writing Original Screenplay, and was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robin Williams), Best Director and Best Picture.
The film has become standard viewing for high school English classes in North America."

Even the Washington Post could not pan the movie, try as they might. 
"This solid, smart entertainment will shake you down too -- in the good sense. You'll be reaching for Shelley. Okay, maybe you won't reach for Shelley (unless you're sitting next to someone named Shelley). You'll go home and fall asleep -- but before you do, you'll feel like maybe you want to read poetry. Sometime. Meanwhile, you'll love the movie.
"Sure, the heroes (Williams and the Disciples of Smug) and villains (academic crustaceans and med-school-pushing parents) are arranged in a convenient moral gallery. But the performances, Weir's adroit direction and John Seale's superb cinematography take care of that banality.
"... if you've lived more than five minutes (and they won't let you into the theater otherwise), you already know that most romantic flights of fancy inevitably crash-land. And, in any case, "Poets" also ends with an uplifting note that peals a bell for intellectual freedom, creativity and, if nothing else, more Robin Williams movies."

I confess to being moved, not so much by the film -- as enjoyable and predictable as it was -- as by the door it opened for me into poetry.  I have never been a poetry kind of guy.  After discovering Ayn Rand and Romanticism in high school, I paid the bucks for Shelley, Byron and Keats, but they were as pointless as Hawthorne.  I wanted to like them because Ayn Rand said so, but I just did not "get" it.  After Dead Poets, I gave it another shot, buying several anthologies and finding in them some works I could understand.  Reading Whitman's Captain in this review ( http://www.generationterrorists.com/quotes/dps.html ) would have made me cry were I not in an administrative office right now.

Finally, there is Robin Williams.  I believe that with Dustin Hoffman, he is one of the few true actors we see in Cineplex-47 mainstream films. (Has anyone seen Clint Eastwood cry? Even Bruce Willis can do that, but then, suffering is the one skill Bruce Willis brings to the set.  Two cheers for both of Johnny Depp's dimensions! But "Best Actor" goes to Russell Crowe who really acted as if he were intelligent in Beautful Mind.)


Post 4

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 7:57amSanction this postReply
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An excellent movie.  I too was inspired by this movie to try some poetry and have been in love with it ever since.

Post 5

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 9:07amSanction this postReply
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Try reading the poetry of Stephen Crane - it might work better than Keats...

Post 6

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:25amSanction this postReply
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What's wrong with Keats?  I think the Odes some of the most incredible poetry out there. 

Post 7

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:59amSanction this postReply
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It makes you think about what so often isn't being taught anymore.

Post 8

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 12:31pmSanction this postReply
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I was with my girlfriend in college when "Dead Poet's Society" hit the theaters. When I left, I started crying in the car. Me, big he-man, crying in front of his new girlfriend. I then went to an anthology of poetry I had and desperately tried to find the quote I heard in the movie: "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 learned it was Henry David Thoreau, of course. Oh Jesus, what beautiful poetry. I read Thoreau all night. There is so much to love about that movie that it would require an essay. Suffice it to say that its spirit is unabashedly pro-individualist and pro-life, and in me, it further propelled an interest in what I had already begun to read and understand about Ayn Rand and Objectivism.

Post 9

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 1:27pmSanction this postReply
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Speaking of Thoreau...I don't have an answer yet, I was just at the wondering stage:

Do you think there is problem with Objectivism and Thoreau, Emerson, et al? With Objectivism and Transcendentalism in general? Party-line speaking, that is.
Let's up the ante and say that "Civil Disobedience" was never written.

It's an interesting area for me because I'm a Unitarian Universalists, there's a deep love of nature there, of course Emerson, etc...


Post 10

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 1:51pmSanction this postReply
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In Philosphy: Who Needs it? Ayn Rand quotes Emersons saying that "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds" and she adds that "this was said by a very small mind."  So I dont think she favored Emerson.

Post 11

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 2:26pmSanction this postReply
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I knew I had read something like that somewhere....

Hmmm... well, I guess that's it, then. I'm burning my copy of the 1814 Divinity address.

On the other hand, no... screw her on that one. :) 


Post 12

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 3:14pmSanction this postReply
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"By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flags to April's breeze un furl'd,
Here once the embattled farmers stood
And fired the shots heard 'round the world."

Or something like that [ not have Emerson on hand here, so using memory], just showing that he did write a few good lines...


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Post 13

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 3:49pmSanction this postReply
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Rich, you asked, "Do you think there is problem with Objectivism and Thoreau, Emerson, et al? With Objectivism and Transcendentalism in general? ...
It's an interesting area for me because I'm a Unitarian Universalists, there's a deep love of nature there, of course Emerson, etc...."

I explored Emerson and New England Transcendentalism a few years back when researching my Frank Lloyd Wright thesis and was enormously impressed at the vitality of the writing and the earth-based joy expressed. It shows it is possible to get something good out of Kant (don't tell Fred) but Emerson would have been so much more if he'd been rational. In some ways he was a little like Nietzsche's little brother, without the psychopathology.

I always thought Rand's comment on Emerson more than a little ungenerous. His irrationalism does unfortunately invite that reaction, but there is much to be lost when throwing out Emerson's bathwater. :-)

There was a brief chat about Emerson here at SOLO a few years back: http://solohq.com/cgi-bin/SHQ/SHQ_Forum.cgi?Function=FirstUnread&Board=2&Thread=32

Post 14

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 3:53pmSanction this postReply
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That always bothers me when you have someone whose work you like and admire, who proceeds to say something so unforgivably wrong it taints your opinion of everything else they ever did.

---Landon


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Post 15

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 6:30pmSanction this postReply
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I'll post this here and I think I'll put it out on the main page as a quotations link. It seems relevent.
"Don't throw away wisdom because it is found in the company of folly; but do not say that folly is wisdom because it is found in its company." -Robert Ingersoll

So often I see people in the Objectivist movement viciously and categorically attack an individual and their entire work because that individual has been guilty of folly. I myself have been guilty of this; both the attacks against others and folly.

Post 16

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 8:32pmSanction this postReply
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Since Michael asked, I must say that I am one of those who did not like the film. I saw it when I was the same age as the kids it depicted, and it was just impossible for me to take a bunch of 10th graders so damn seriously. If you can find a bunch of 15 year olds who'd sneak out in the middle of the night to read poetry in a sewer, then you've got much better sight than I do. Far, far too unbelievable, and hence, contrived -- which is the end result of a *non-fantasy* being too fantastic.

Not to mention, it was yet another serious role for Robin Williams. True, it was much better than the 687 other atrociously serious roles that Williams undertook in his determined effort to destroy his reputation as a comedic genius, but I still resent him for it. See Bill Murray (who was not a comedic genius) for an example of how one can make the transition from comic to serious successfully. In short, it cannot be done black-and-white.

Alec



Post 17

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 8:55pmSanction this postReply
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I like and own this movie, even though I'm a little sympathetic to Alec's point that it is contrived. In some sense, good art is supposed to be contrived.


Post 18

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 10:28pmSanction this postReply
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Alec, you said, "Since Michael asked, I must say that I am one of those who did not like the film.... Far, far too unbelievable, and hence, contrived -- which is the end result of a *non-fantasy* being too fantastic."

I think you've missed the point of romantic drama, Alec. What could be and should be, remember? This is not Ferris Bueller's Day Off or any of those thousand-and-ten other worthless high school flicks; this is great romantic drama.

"See Bill Murray..."

I'd rather not; at least not without suitable anti-nausea medication.

Post 19

Monday, August 1, 2005 - 11:24pmSanction this postReply
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Ah, but I'm afraid you missed *my* point, Peter. I tried to elucidate it by noting that for a *non-fantasy* to be this unbelievable, is contrived. An example would be this: imagine a film that aimed toward serious romantic drama, centered around a sexual affair between six year olds. "Could be and should be" my ass -- it would be obscenely ridiculous, and therefore fail to accomplish its romantically dramatic goals.

I don't mean to degrade anyone's enjoyment of the film; I'm just explaining why I didn't like it. Its substance -- including setting and characters -- simply did not match its pretense. Stretching the analogy to make my point, you can make a successful and high-aiming comedy, satire, or parable featuring six year olds (or 10th graders), but not a serious romantic drama. So I disagree with Andrew that all good art must be contrived in the sense in which I'm accusing this film -- it just has to "work," in the sense of means fulfilling ends.

As for Bill Murray, I'm no major fan either, but he's an example of what I was pointing out and he has turned into a fine "serious" actor. He did so by not completely shunning his comedic sensibilites and the unpretentious, anti-elitist wisdom therein.

Alec



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