Thursday, 11 September 2014

Dead Poets Society - an appreciation

I'd never seen this film before but I am a 90's child after all, and therefore a fan of the late Robin Williams. I'm more accustomed to seeing him dressed as a woman or voicing a blue genie so this film was something a little different but I had heard a lot about it so decided to give it a go last week.

There's a strange thing I do whenever I watch a film or television series that I enjoy. I relentlessly google all the actors and scan wikipedia for the story of how the film came to be. Maybe I'm just a bit nosy but also it's quite useful because I do have a lot of irrelevant information to hand should you ever need it. I did this exact thing after watching Dead Poets Society so it should be clear that I really liked the film and as an added bonus now I know exactly what the career path of all the actors involved in the film has been since. Also, spouses, children and any scandal. I know all that too. Thankfully I only wasted about an hour of my life on that, so I'm chalking that up as time spent productively.

For anyone who hasn't seen the film, I don't think I'm ruining anything here by telling you that the phrase 'O Captain, My Captain' from a poem written by Walt Whitman features pretty prominently in the film. As does this quote from John Keating (Robin Williams) referencing Whitman again.

 That you are here - that life exists and identity,
 That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

What will your verse be?''

Now, I'd heard of Walt Whitman before because, erm hello, he plays a pretty crucial role in Breaking Bad (W.W - Walt Whitman or Walter White) and also there's some mention of him in the Notebook. I'm displaying exactly how highbrow my tastes are here aren't I? So this third mention of Whitman was enough for me to do a little search on Pinterest and discovered that there were very many poignant quotes attributed to his name and if there's one thing I adore, it's a good quote.

In short, I've discovered a new favourite poet and I recommend that if you haven't before, you should watch Dead Poets Society and you should definitely read a Whitman poem. You can find the Leaves of Grass here .

I've only made my way through some of them but I liked this one a lot. I can't figure out how to make it sit properly on the page and I don't have the inclination to waste much of my time on it so apologies for that.

I Sit and Look Out

  I sit and look out upon all the sorrows of the world, and upon all
      oppression and shame,
  I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men at anguish with
      themselves, remorseful after deeds done,
  I see in low life the mother misused by her children, dying,
      neglected, gaunt, desperate,
  I see the wife misused by her husband, I see the treacherous seducer
      of young women,
  I mark the ranklings of jealousy and unrequited love attempted to be
      hid, I see these sights on the earth,
  I see the workings of battle, pestilence, tyranny, I see martyrs and
  I observe a famine at sea, I observe the sailors casting lots who
      shall be kill'd to preserve the lives of the rest,
  I observe the slights and degradations cast by arrogant persons upon
      laborers, the poor, and upon negroes, and the like;
  All these—all the meanness and agony without end I sitting look out upon,
  See, hear, and am silent.

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