Dead Poets Society

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The film, “Dead Poets Society,” directed by Peter Weir, is a classic example of conformity versus nonconformity. Its main appeal is in the passionate acting of Robin Williams, who plays John Keating, an inspiring teacher with unusual methods. Inspiring co-stars Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke play Neil and Todd, students enrolled in the school Keating teaches at. The film is set in a very strict all boys school that has many rules and guidelines, yet undoubtedly the boys, inspired by Mr. Keating, begin to rebel against the structure and authority. Peter Weir uses a number of film techniques to develop this theme of conformity versus nonconformity. The importance of these techniques is revealed in the film through the use of setting, sound and lighting, as well as, camera angles. Through these methods, the audience is able to further understand that within the strict confines of conformity, one may find great truths in being an individual.

The general setting of, “Dead Poets Society,” is Welton, an all boys school in rural Vermont, New England in the late 1950s. At the beginning of the film the viewer gets the first glimpse of the school; its sturdy stone structure and high interior walls and ceilings, shown in high angle camera shots emphasize the power and authority of it. The dullness in color of the building and the rigid angular shapes of the school’s architecture gives the viewer a sense of formality and discipline. Later, the audience sees the students of the school dressed in the same, dull, grey-colored school uniform moving around in classrooms, corridors and dormitories that seem claustrophobic. This effect emphasizes how the school acts as a restriction to the boys in order to maintain order and discipline. It also shows the loss of individuality, as the boys are seen blending into their surrounding environment. Another significant setting in this film is the cave where the boys host their Dead Poets Society meetings. Although the cave is small...
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