Dead Poets Society


Box office

The worldwide box office was reported as $235,860,116, which includes domestic grosses of $95,860,116.[2] The film's global receipts were the fifth-highest for 1989, and the highest for dramas.[8]

Film critics

The critical reaction to this film was favorable; it received positive reviews from 85% of critics cited by Rotten Tomatoes,[9] as well as a weighted average score of 79 out of 100 from 14 mainstream critics registered on Metacritic.[10]

The Washington Post reviewer called it "solid, smart entertainment", and praised Robin Williams for giving a "nicely restrained acting performance".[11] Vincent Canby of The New York Times also praised Williams' "exceptionally fine performance", while noting that "Dead Poets Society... is far less about Keating than about a handful of impressionable boys".[3] Pauline Kael was unconvinced by the film, and its 'middlebrow highmindedness', but praised Williams. "Robin Williams' performance is more graceful than anything he's done before [-] he's totally, concentratedly there - [he] reads his lines stunningly, and when he mimics various actors reciting Shakespeare there's no undue clowning in it; he's a gifted teacher demonstrating his skills."[12]

Roger Ebert's review was largely negative, two out of four stars. He criticized Williams for spoiling an otherwise creditable dramatic performance by occasionally veering into his onstage comedian's persona, and lamented that for a movie set in the 1950s there was no mention of the Beat Generation writers. Additionally, Ebert described the film as an often poorly constructed "collection of pious platitudes [...] The movie pays lip service to qualities and values that, on the evidence of the screenplay itself, it is cheerfully willing to abandon."[13] On their Oscar Nomination edition of Siskel & Ebert, both Gene Siskel (who also gave the film a mixed review) and Ebert disagreed with Williams' Oscar nomination, with Ebert saying that he would have swapped Williams with either Matt Dillon for Drugstore Cowboy or John Cusack for Say Anything, and on their If We Picked the Winners special in March of 1990, Ebert chose the film's Best Picture nomination as the worst nomination of the year, believing it took a slot that could have gone to Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing.


Dead Poets Society won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay (Tom Schulman). Peter Weir received a nomination for Best Director and the film itself was nominated for Best Picture of 1989. Robin Williams received his second Best Actor in a Leading Role nomination and it has since been widely recognized as one of the actor/comedian's best roles. It also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film.

  • Academy Awards (USA) 1990[14]
    • Won: Best Original Screenplay (Tom Schulman)
    • Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robin Williams)
    • Nominated: Director (Peter Weir)
    • Nominated: Best Picture (Steven Haft, Paul Junger Witt and Tony Thomas, Producers)
  • BAFTA Awards (UK) 1989[15]
    • Won: Best Film
    • Won: Best Original Film Score (Maurice Jarre)
    • Nominated: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Robin Williams)
    • Nominated: Best Achievement in Direction (Peter Weir)
    • Nominated: Best Editing (William Anderson)
    • Nominated: Best Original Screenplay (Tom Schulman)
  • César Awards (France)[16]
    • Won: Best Foreign Film
  • David di Donatello Awards (Italy)[17]
    • Won: Best Foreign Film
  • Directors Guild of America (USA)[18]
    • Nominated: Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures (Peter Weir)
  • Golden Globe Awards (USA)[19]
    • Nominated: Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Robin Williams)
    • Nominated: Best Director – Motion Picture (Peter Weir)
    • Nominated: Best Motion Picture – Drama
    • Nominated: Best Screenplay – Motion Picture (Tom Schulman)
  • Writers Guild of America (USA)[20]
    • Nominated: Best Screenplay – Original (Tom Schulman)

The film was voted #52 on the AFI's 100 Years…100 Cheers list, a list of the top 100 most inspiring films of all time.[21]

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