Dead Poets Society

Topics: Dead Poets Society, Suicide, Death Pages: 6 (2279 words) Published: February 7, 2011 Poets Society, Directed by Peter Weir A significant event that occurs towards the finale of ‘Dead Poets Society’ directed by Peter Weir is the movie’s compelling climax, which is when one of the film’s most impassioned characters, Neil ends his own life. Neil commits suicide as he feels trapped with no alternative option other than to conform to his father’s wishes. The significance of this sequence is conveyed through a range of visual and verbal features such as colour, camera work, props, symbols, music and dialogue. These features collaborate to persuasively establish the importance of this event.

When the suicide sequence begins, Neil is crushed to be adamantly told by his father, Mr. Perry that he will not be returning to Welton, but will be enrolled in military school where he will study to become a doctor. Neil, triggered by Mr. Keating’s inspirational teachings to “seize the day” and to “contribute his verse” is torn between his father’s realistic views on how he should live his life and Mr. Keating’s idealistic thoughts about ‘making his life extraordinary’. Neil feels hopeless in his attempt to ‘seize the day’ by fulfilling his dream to act, but also feels he can no longer keep up the pretence of the ‘dutiful son’. Neil’s hopelessness in his circumstances is revealed to the audience at the start of this sequence as there is a high camera angle shooting down on him after he sits. This suggests his powerlessness in the situation. His facial expression is dazed, as if his father’s words have really dawned on him. The comprehension of his seemingly ’doomed’ life is shown as he looks as if he may have already made the choice of his suicide. Neil‘s body language is also very slow and careful indicating the seriousness of his situation. Neil’s final realization, is clarified to the viewers through his last words “ I was good. I was really good.” This shows a flicker of his determination to resist being held captive by his father’s decisions. It is almost as if the audience is given the hint that Neil will do something to refrain from his father’s dominating manner. The dialogue is also in past tense ‘”I was” this indicates how he now understands that he can no longer be good, because his father has diminished his hopes for a career in acting. He can now see that he will never again, be able to feel that magic he experienced as an actor.

Neil Perry’s steps to his suicide is shown to the audience, though we don’t actually see him shoot himself. This raises the importance of the climax as we still are not certain what will happen, Peter Weir successfully maintained the element of uncertainty in the suicide sequence. The events leading up to Neil’s death are shown using the camera technique of montage this appears to compress time giving the audience the idea that Neil had already made the decision to end his life when he found out about military school. It shows that he has unwaveringly, prepared himself for his death. The shots that make up the sequence of Neil’s death are linked with the same eerie music that was used when he found the ‘Five centuries of verse’ poetry book. The irony in this is that both times the music is played it leads to a negative or partially negative consequence, as after Neil found the poetry book and formed the ‘Dead Poets Society’ some things started to deteriorate. For example Charlie’s prank which got him into a lot of trouble and Neil’s desire to audition for ’A Midsummer Night’s dream’ which eventually led to him taking his own life. The music also has mysterious overtones which suggest danger especially in Neil’s death sequence. Danger is also implied through the use of props. For instance when Neil descends downstairs he enters his parents bedroom in order to retrieve the gun from Mr. Perry’s bedside drawer, however before the audience knows he is about to take the gun from the locked drawer there is a close up on a knife on his father’s bedside...
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