I have just watched Dead Poets Society on my laptop. I’ve been a Robin Williams fan ever since Mrs. Doubtfire. Mr. Williams could certainly play anyone and own the character. He makes it easy for us to empathize with him, to wish he was our English teacher. This film has the characters you could easily identify in real life: the strict and authoritative teachers/boss/parents, the rebellious rich kid, the snitch, the pretty girl with the jerk, the lovestruck boy after the pretty girl, the quiet smart guy and the aspiring actor whose parents want him to be a doctor.
It was exhilarating when Todd told a story in front of the class, his first time to address an audience and to yawp. I also felt like ripping something when the class ripped Dr. Pritchard’s essay. I wanted to claw Cameron’s eyes after he snitched about the DPS and Mr. Keating.
I was guilty yet hopeful when I realized I’m practically Mr. Keating’s realist colleague and disheartened to be reminded that as you grow older, you meet a lot of Mr. Nolans and Mr. Perrys. But that it’s also heartwarming that I have my Todds and Nuwandas and Pitts and Meeks.
I was floored when Neil took his life. I wept for a youth that will never blossom, for a talent nipped in the bud and for freedom in death. I felt no shame in weeping. For a while, I was Todd puking in the snow. I lost a friend in Neil. His death reminds me of life’s cruelties: like a super typhoon killing thousands, like corrupt politicians who just won’t die, like a president who had to be cajoled in paying respects to fallen soldiers, like being a prejudged minority living in a war zone, in constant fear of the rebels and the government.
The last scene when Mr. Keating bid the class goodbye while the DPSs were standing on their desks took on a different meaning now that Mr. Williams is dead. Thank you for the voices, the humor and for sharing to the world your immense talent. May you have found peace.
Thank you also to my teachers who have guided me and have been a source of inspiration for without them I would have sat through, wide awake, a lame movie like Starting Over Again and missed out on precious naps.
Oh captain, my captain! Life sucks but may we always be reminded to take a different perspective. The view is different on top of your desk.