Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Top Ten Films: Part Nine

Teenagers are strange creatures. They yearn for autonomy, yet they are so easily influenced. Most pride themselves on “individuality” but would not be caught dead actually standing out. They are so clueless, but they actually think they have all the answers.

“Dead Poet’s Society” is great at showing this aspect of the teen years. Most “teen” movies seem to be made completely in a teenage mindset: clueless, yet self assured and “cool.” Dead Poet’s does a great job of observing real teen behavior and showing the insecurities and helplessness along with the fun and abandon.

The real greatness here though, is the way the teacher, Keating, is able to excite a group of boys to learn. Daring them to dream and to be excited about life, Keating is an inspiration to anyone who would like to influence the lives around them. The danger of teaching is also shown when a boy Keating inspires is unable to blend the dreams he has with the reality around him.

This is where the film frustrates. You wish you could stop Neal from taking his own life. You wish you could make him see that life requires patience. That true greatness lies in how we handle the Ordinary, not just the outstanding moments which in the end, while they make life exciting, are just a small part of the whole. Life is lived, and is worth living, because of the ordinary moments.

Keating’s Humanist inspiration is empty in the end. What happens if the dreams you dream become unattainable? Why live that life? There is no answer beyond the self. Where is the hope? Hope is only found in the realization that the human spirit is eternal. This life is not the end. Even in the darkest moments, there is always a tomorrow. Always.

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