Dead Poets Society

Dead Poets Society Study Guide

Dead Poets Society is a 1989 movie starring Robin Williams and directed by Peter Weir. It is set in the ultra-conservative and highly prestigious Welton Academy, an aristocratic public school in the Northeastern United States, and tells the story of John Keating, an innovative English teacher who inspires his students to see their own potential through his poetry classes. In 1959, innovation and change are not welcome at Welton Academy, and the questioning of tradition is punished.

The script was written by Tom Schulman, who based the screenplay on his own experiences at a similar school, Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, and the character of John Keating on his inspirational teacher Samuel Pickering.

The film was an outstanding worldwide success and for the most part was received favorably by critics, although Siskel and Ebert found Robin Williams' performance to be spoiled by the occasional emergence of his stand-up comedian personae. They also criticized the script for being filled with platitudes. Theirs proved lone voices of dissent when the film received four Academy Award nominations, winning the Oscar for Tom Schulman's best original screenplay.