We’ve recommended a fair number of movies to get you psyched about tutoring in NYC, but there is one inspirational movie that towers above all others. A movie so powerful that it made Robin Williams a respected dramatic actor and not just the dude from “Mork and Mindy.” A movie so moving that a poster for it inexplicably resided on the wall of my high school freshman English classroom. Yes, we’re talking about Dead Poets Society.
It’s very easy to reduce Dead Poets Society to an empty round of “O captain! My captain!” quoting and an entire misguided generation of educators blinded in a shared enthusiasm “carpe diem,” but to the day, the film absolutely holds up. The kids are ably portrayed in a supporting cast that ranges from Ethan Hawkes (at his least sleazy) to Robert Sean Leonard, and Williams’ performance is justly praised, in both its muted frustration and sporadic bursts of exuberance. Even Truman Show-helmer Peter Weir’s direction is similarly classical, in a matter befitting both the story and the atmosphere, of old prep school traditions that repress the youths who crowd such hallowed halls.
Dead Poets Society might not be as transcendent as its aforementioned reputation of overly enthused teachers would otherwise imply, but there’s a beating heart at the core of this thing that holds true to its legacy, and it’s the reason that the film has survived as long as it is – it’s not just any ol’ inspirational teaching movie. Rather, this is the ultimate inspirational teaching movie, where the system is so oppressive, and so flawed, that it takes the efforts of one particular man who’s passionate about teaching to save these students from a lifetime of happiness and mental malnourishment. And it’s not a system that he takes down easily. After all, for those of you out there who have managed to still not see this movie, it does have a great borderline-70s-like ambiguous ending that supersedes the film’s crowd-pleasing past. Yet though whatever victory John Keating finds may come at a price, his legacy of decency and intellectual curiosity lives on, one that’ll inspire you to pursue some inspirational teaching of your own.
Besides, the guy who was the bad guy in Robocop is in this, playing another dude that you love to hate! That’s enough to get us inspired about tutoring in NYC all right – to spite the bad guy from Robocop.