Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Dead Poets Society

1989 by Peter Weir

Some years back there was a movie in Malayalam from Fazil, Life is Beautiful. I liked it then, as it was a different attempt from all the stupid ones that were coming out in that time. Also it was one attempt by Mohanlal to perform a role which didnt had any of his routing song/fights/walking scenes. The movie still looked up at his character was one of the reasons it didnt turn out as great. Also the private life of Mohanlal's character was portrayed in a way, the 'hypocritic' Keralan family audiences thought was not fit for a family watch. Neither the fans nor the family approved of the movie and it was a big flop. It was a better movie from Fazil after a couple of horrible attempts since his master piece Manichitrathaazhu. Thanks to my friend Jijo, I watch Dead Poets Society and it is quite embarassing that Fazil infact destroyed an excellent movie of the 80's through his terrible adaptation. I dont know why Fazil decided to run a parallel story in the teachers school life, in the form of his personal life involving his wife and sister in law. That, now I can see, was a weird decision.

In a famous boarding school, a new English teacher arrives and urges his students to look at literature and life in a different way. 'Carpe diem' - he says, ie to Seize the day, as everybody is going to be food for worms very soon. So enjoy life. He instills confidence in the students to go for things what they really like. However, parents and the school itself is not impressed as one of the students kills himself when his parents are against his wishes. 

The best part of this movie is definitely the performance by Robin Williams, as Mr. Keating the teacher who wants the students to be free thinkers. A sublime performance, I must say, never going over board even during some scenes where a bit of overdoing would have been pardonable. From the character, Mr. Williams could have made Mr. Keatings a very theatrical person, but he isnt. A wonderful performance indeed.

The climax, when most of the children stands on top of the desk, just to be against the school's conformity, as a recognition to their teacher or a kind of see off for him, or a way of apologising was very beautiful. A single shot shows that the other students who didn't get up, where leaning towards the front desk as a sign of being embarassed or guilty to not supporting Mr. Keatings, was really nice. Even in these scenes, the movie never goes over board is a real credit for the director.

At the same time, the drama performed by the students by which one of them is applauded by one and all, I thought looked a bit mediocre. Nothing extra ordinary was shown for all those around to look at him as a star.

I am sure there would be at least a few parents who would have decided to not forbid their wards from seeking their wishes. If there were, I am sure this movie is a great success.  In fact, it would not be a bad idea for every parents to watch this movie. Some serious points are told in a simple way.

By the way, Dead Poets Society, is a stunning title.

In my 16 years of work experience, I have had the luck to meet people from all over the world. Especially during a 9 year stint in a cultural centre, I met people even from the remote parts of the world and made friends with nationalities (people used to stay for a long period, even upto an year or so sometimes) from every where. One thing I realised during all these period was that, Indians are more adept in meeting the hard ships of life. Of course we (this is not true for the new Indian generation of the affluent class, I agree) learn life a hard way and Indians seems to show more common sense, this in spite of not being literate or as educated as in the west. It is quite strange then that our movie makers always wants to go overboard or explain too much to illustrate things in their movie. Do they really take their own people as illiterate fools. I simply dont get this.