Dead Poets Society

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Dead Poets Society is a 1989 film set in 1959. It tells the story of English professor John Keating, who inspires his students at Welton Academy to a love of poetry and teaches them to overcome their reluctance to make changes in their lives.

Directed by Peter Weir. Written by Tom Schulman.
He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary. taglines

John Keating

  • No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
  • There is a time for daring and a time for caution, and a wise man knows which is called for.
  • [talking about the people in the old awards pictures] They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. [the students lean in] Listen, you hear it? [whispers in a raspy voice] - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
  • Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation." Don't be resigned to that. Break out!
  • [after hearing "The Introduction to Poetry"] Excrement! That's what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard! We're not laying pipe! We're talking about poetry. How can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? "I like Byron, I give him a 42 but I can't dance to it!"
  • This is a battle, a war, and the casualties could be your hearts and souls.
  • Language was invented for one reason, boys--to woo women--and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.
  • We're not laughing at you; we're laughing near you.
  • Now we all have a great need for acceptance, but you must trust that your beliefs are unique, your own, even though others may think them odd or unpopular, even though the herd may go, [imitating a sheep] "that's baaaaad." Robert Frost said, "Two roads diverged in the wood and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
  • But only in their dreams can men be truly free. Twas always thus, and always thus will be.
  • Though much is taken, much abides; and though We are not now that strength which in old days Moved Earth and Heaven, that which we are, we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
  • We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, "O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?" Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
  • ...stroll down amnesia lane...
  • When you read, don't just consider what the author thinks, consider what you think.
  • "O captain, my captain". Who knows where that comes from? Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can call me Mr. Keating. Or, for the slightly more daring, "O captain, my captain".
  • Now I want you to rip out that page. Go on, rip out the entire page. You heard me, rip it out. Rip it out! Thank you Mr. Dalton. Gentlemen, tell you what, don't just tear out that page, tear out the entire introduction. I want it gone, history. Leave nothing of it. Rip it out. Rip! Begone J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. Rip, shred, tear. Rip it out. I want to hear nothing but ripping of Mr.Pritchard. It's not the Bible, you're not going to go to Hell for this. Go on, make a clean tear, I want nothing left of it.
  • I see that look in Mr. Pitt's eye, like nineteenth century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school. Right? Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him, thinking "Yes, we should simply study our Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions."
  • "O Titus, bring your friend hither." But if any of you have seen Mr. Marlon Brando, you know, Shakespeare can be different. "Frenns, Romans, countruhmen, lend me your eahhs." You can also imagine, maybe, John Wayne as Macbeth going, "Wayull, is this a dagger I see before me?"
  • "Dogs, sir? Oh, not just now. I do enjoy a good dog once in awhile, sir. You can have yourself a three-course meal from one dog. Start with your canine crudites, go to your Fido flambe for main course and for dessert, a Pekingese parfait. And you can pick your teeth with a paw."
  • "I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world." W. W. Uncle Walt again. Now, for those of you who don't know, a yawp is a loud cry or yell. Now, Todd, I would like you to give us a demonstration of a barbaric "yawp." Come on. You can't yawp sitting down. Let's go. Come on. Up. You gotta get in "yawping" stance.
  • Don't you forget this.
  • Mr. Anderson! Don't think that I don't know that this assignment scares the hell out of you! You mole!
  • No grades at stake, gentlemen. Just take a stroll.
  • Mr. Pitts, taking his time. He knew he'll get there one day. Mr. Cameron, you could see him thinking, "Is this right? It might be right. It might be right. I know that. Maybe not. I don't know." Mr. Overstreet, driven by deeper force [walks with his hips pushed forward] Yes. We know that.
  • The phone call from God... If it had been collect, it would've been daring.
  • Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't mean choking on the bone.

Neil Perry

  • This desk set... it wants to fly. Todd?
  • It was a dark and rainy night, and this old lady, who had a passion for jigsaw puzzles, sat by herself in her house at her table to complete a new jigsaw puzzle. But as she pieced the puzzle together, she realized, to her astonishment, that the image that was formed was her very own room. And the figure in the center of the puzzle, as she completed it, was herself. And with trembling hands, she placed the last four pieces and stared in horror at the face of a demented madman at the window. The last thing that this old lady ever heard was the sound of breaking glass.
  • I mean, I haven't even gotten the part yet. Can't you even enjoy the idea for a little while?
  • If we shadows have offended, Think but this, and all is mended, That you have but slumber'd here While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme, No more yielding but a dream, Gentles, do not reprehend: if you pardon, we will mend: And, as I am an honest Puck, If we have unearned luck Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue, We will make amends ere long; Else the Puck a liar call; So, good night unto you all. Give me your hands, if we be friends, And Robin shall restore amends.
  • [Quoting Henry David Thoreau] I went into the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life... to put to rout all that was not life; and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
  • CARPE DIEM!
  • I'm trapped.

Other

  • Knox: She's gonna hate me. The Danburrys will hate me. My parents will kill me. All right, goddamn it. You're right. "Carpe diem." Even if it kills me.
  • Charlie: Guys, I have an announcement to make. In keeping with the spirit of passionate experimentation of the Dead Poets, I'm giving up the name Charlie Dalton. From now on, call me Nuwanda.
  • Charlie: Welton Academy. Hello. Yes, he is. Just a moment. Mr. Nolan, it's for you. It's God. He says we should have girls at Welton.
  • Pitts: Your father collects pipes? Oh, that's really interesting.

Dialogue

Student in class: [reading his poem] "A cat sat on a mat."
John Keating: Congratulations. You may have just written the first poem to get a negative score on the Pritchard scale.

Gloria: Don't you guys miss having girls around here?
Meeks, Pitts: [yell in unison] Yeah!

Todd: Mr. Keating! They made everybody sign it.
Mr. Nolan: Quiet, Mr. Anderson.
Todd: You gotta believe me. It's true.
Keating: I do believe you, Todd.
Mr. Nolan: Leave, Mr. Keating.
Todd: But it wasn't his fault!
Mr. Nolan: Sit down, Mr. Anderson! One more outburst from you or anyone else, and you're out of this school! Leave, Mr. Keating.
Mr. Nolan: I said leave, Mr. Keating.
[Todd stands on his desk]
Todd: O Captain! My Captain!
Mr. Nolan: Sit down, Mr. Anderson! Do you hear me? Sit down! Sit down! This is your final warning, Anderson. How dare you! Do you hear me?
[Knox stands on his desk and other students slowly start to follow]
Knox: O Captain! My Captain!
Mr. Nolan: Mr. Overstreet, I warn you! Sit down! Sit down! Sit down. All of you. I want you seated. Sit down. Leave, Mr. Keating. All of you, down. I want you seated. Do you hear me? Sit down!
Keating: Thank you, boys. Thank you.

Charlie: Hey, how'd it go? Did you read it to her?
Knox: Yeah.
Pitts: What'd she say?
Knox: Nothing.
Charlie: Nothing. What do you mean, nothing?
Knox: Nothing. But I did it.

[Todd's present is the same as last year, a desk set he does not even like.]
Neil: I mean, if I was ever going to buy a desk set... twice! I would probably buy this one, both times! In fact, its shape is rather aerodynamic isn't it? You can feel it. This desk set wants to fly!
[Neil hands the desk set to Todd]
Neil: Todd? The world's first un-manned flying desk set!
[Todd throws it off the roof]
Neil: Oh my! Well, I wouldn't worry, you'll get another one next year.

Mr. Nolan: Gentlemen, turn to page 21 of the introduction. Mr. Cameron, read aloud the excellent essay by Dr. Pritchard on "Understanding Poetry."
Cameron: That page has been ripped out, sir.
Mr. Nolan: Well, borrow somebody else's book.
Cameron: They're all ripped out, sir.
Mr. Nolan: What do you mean, they're all ripped out?

Meeks: I'll try anything once.
Dalton: Yeah, except sex.

John Keating: I thought the purpose of education was to learn to think for yourself.
Nolan: At these boys age? Not on your life!

Keating: You don't have to perform. Just make it for yourself. Mr. Dalton? Will you be joining us?
Charlie: Exercising the right not to walk.
Keating: Thank you, Mr. Dalton. You just illustrated the point. Swim against the stream.

John Keating: Why do we need language?
Neil: To communicate...
John Keating: Nooo! To woo women!

Keating: Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines?
Charlie: Because he's in a hurry.
Keating: No, ding! Thank you for playing anyway. Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.

Hager: That wouldn't be a radio in your lap, would it Mr. Pitts?
Pitts: No sir. Science experiment, radar.

McAllister: You take a big risk by encouraging them to be artists John. When they realize they're not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts, they'll hate you for it.
Keating: We're not talking artists George, we're talking free thinkers.
McAllister: Free thinkers at seventeen?
Keating: Funny, I never pegged you as a cynic.
McAllister: Not a cynic, a realist. Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams, and I'll show you a happy man.
Keating: But only in their dreams can man be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be.
McAllister: Tennyson?
Keating: No, Keating.

Charlie: Wait a minute, who gave us half a roll?
Pitts: I'm eating the other half.
Charlie: Come on.
Pitts: You want me to put it back?

Keating: Why do I stand up here? Anybody?
Charlie: To feel taller.
Keating: No! Thank you for playing, Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind yourself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.

Pitts: "Oh to struggle against great odds. To meet enemies undaunted."
Keating: Sounds to me like you're daunted. Say it again like you're undaunted.
Pitts: “Oh to struggle against great odds. To meet enemies undaunted."
Keating: Now go on.

Boy #1: "To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports."
Keating: Next. Louder!
Boy #2: "Oh, I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave."
Boy #3: “To mount the scaffolds. To advance to the muzzle of guns with perfect nonchalance."

Keating: Come on, Meeks! Listen to the music.
Meeks: "To dance, clap hands, exalt, shout, skip, roll on, float on."
Keating: Yes!

Hopkins: [without energy] "Oh, to have life henceforth the poem of new joys."
Keating: Oh! Boo! Come on, Charlie, let it fill your soul!
Charlie: [lifts his arms, looking up and yells] “To indeed be a god!"

Keating: Mr. Anderson, I see you sitting there in agony. Come on, Todd, step up. Let's put you out of your misery.
Todd: I, I didn't do it. I didn't write a poem.
Keating: Mr. Anderson thinks that everything inside of him is worthless and embarrassing. Isn't that right, Todd? Isn't that your worst fear? Well, I think you're wrong. I think you have something inside of you that is worth a great deal. [writes "I sound my barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world." W. W. on the chalkboard] Uncle Walt again. Now, for those of you who don't know, a yawp is a loud cry or yell. Now, Todd, I would like you to give us a demonstration of a barbaric "yawp." Come on. You can't yawp sitting down. Let's go. Come on. Up. You gotta get in "yawping" stance.
Todd: A yawp?
Keating: No, not just a yawp. A barbaric yawp.
Todd: [quietly] Yawp.
Keating: Come on, louder.
Todd: [quietly] Yawp.
Keating: No, that's a mouse. Come on. Louder.
Todd: Yawp.
Keating: Oh, good God, boy. Yell like a man!
Todd: [shouting] Yawp!
Keating: There it is. You see, you have a barbarian in you, after all. Now, you don't get away that easy. The picture of Uncle Walt up there. What does he remind you of? [Tod hesitates] Don't think. Answer. Go on.
Todd: A m-m-madman.
Keating: What kind of madman? [Tod hesitates again] Don't think about it. Just answer again.
Todd: A c-crazy madman.
Keating: No, you can do better than that. Free up your mind. Use your imagination. Say the first thing that pops into your head, even if it's only gibberish. Go on, go on.
Todd: Uh, uh, a sweaty-toothed madman.
Keating: Good God, boy, there's a poet in you, after all. There, close your eyes. Close your eyes. Close 'em. Now, describe what you see.
Todd: Uh, I-I close my eyes.
Keating: Yes?
Todd: Uh, and this image floats beside me.
Keating: A sweaty-toothed madman?
Todd: A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare that pounds my brain.
Keating: Oh, that's excellent. Now, give him action. Make him do something.
Todd: H-His hands reach out and choke me.
Keating: That's it. Wonderful. Wonderful.
Todd: And, and all the time he's mumbling.
Keating: What's he mumbling?
Todd: M-Mumbling, "Truth. Truth is like, like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold."
[Class laughs]
Keating: Forget them, forget them. Stay with the blanket. Tell me about that blanket.
Todd: Y-Y-Y-You push it, stretch it, it'll never be enough. You kick at it, beat it, it'll never cover any of us. From the moment we enter crying to the moment we leave dying, it will just cover your face as you wail and cry and scream.
[the class claps because of his excellent poem]
Keating: [whispering to Todd] Don't you forget this.

Neil: You kicked out?
Charlie: No.
Neil: What happened?
Charlie: I'm to apologize to the school, turn everyone in, and all will be forgiven.
Neil: What are you gunna do? ... Charlie?
Charlie: Damn it Neil...! The name's Nuwanda...

Neil: I just talked to my father. He's making me quit the play at Henley Hall. But acting's everything to me... I... But he doesn't know, he... I can see his point, we're not a rich family like Charlie's. But he's planning the rest of my life for me, and I--he's never asked me what I want.
Mr Keating: Have you ever told your father what you just told me, about your passion for acting? Have you ever showed him that?
Neil: I can't.
Mr Keating: Why not?
Neil: I can't talk to him this way.
Mr Keating: Then you're acting for him too; you're playing the part of the dutiful son. And I know this sounds impossible but you have to talk to him, you have to show him who you are, what your heart is.
Neil: I don't know what to say. He'll tell me that acting is a whim and that I should forget it... "They're counting on me". He'll tell me to put it out of my mind for my own good.
Mr Keating: You're not an indention servant. It's not a whim for you and you prove it to him by your conviction and your passion. You show him that, and if he still doesn't believe you, well by then you'll be out of school and you can do anything you want.
Neil: [shakes his head] No... What about the play? The show is tomorrow night.
Mr Keating: Then you'll have to talk to him before tomorrow night.
Neil: Is there an easier way?
Mr Keating: No.
Neil: [laughs hopelessly] ... I'm trapped.
Mr Keating: No, Neil, you're not.

Nolan: Gentlemen, what are the four pillars?
All boys: Tradition, Honor, Discipline, Excellence!

Charlie: [mockingly] Gentlemen, what are the four pillars?
Neil, Charlie, Knox, Meeks: Travesty, Horror, Decadence, Excrement!

Taglines

  • He was their inspiration. He made their lives extraordinary.
  • 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.

External links

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