Saturday, 21 November 2009

O Captain, my Captain

So, what I was actually going to blog about before I got distracted was that I just watched the film Dead Poets Society (1989) directed by Peter Weir. I must admit that the first time I saw it (probably in 1989, because I think I watched it at the cinema), I didn't get all the references to the Transcendentalists, because you don't get to learn about Thoreau and Whitman and Emerson at school in England.

Even though the film ends tragically, I don't think it undermines the main message, that conformity is the death of the true self. It is a deeply moving and powerful film, with some great acting from both the boys and Robin Williams.
"I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived … I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practice resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms..." (61) (Walden, 1854).

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