I thought about that this week as I popped in a classic, Dead Poets Society. The film debuted nearly two decades ago, in 1989. Set in the late 50’s at a stiff all-boys prep school, it tells the story of how one English teacher, John Keating (played by Robin Williams), inspires his class to step out of conservatism and wrestle with their ideas about life.
In one scene, he stops in the middle of the polished, brown desks, crouches down, has the boys huddle around him and asks,
“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?”
With the help of greats like Whitman, Frost and Thoreau, Keating refuses to let them get by with unexamined thought and challenges them to live extraordinary lives.
I’ve been inspired for years by the themes and thoughts of this film, but as I sat watching it, I wondered, “When was the last time a film came off the Hollywood assembly line with clear wisdom, ready to truly challenge a viewer?” I can’t even remember.
What was the last film that provoked fresh ideas about how you live your life? What wisdom did you take away from it?
(Image credit: CaptPiper)