Dead Poets Society and the Suicide of Neil Perry Essay
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Dead Poets Society and the Suicide of Neil Perry "Dead Poets Society" deals with the angst of growing up in a public boys' school, with the typical themes of pressure to achieve academically and the themes of rebellion featuring heavily. Several young boys' worlds are changed forever when Mr. Keating (Robin Williams) arrives at their school. The director of the 1989 film, Peter Weir, utilises a variety of techniques to subconsciously signal to the viewer that all is not well in the Perry household. Through these techniques, it becomes evident that Neil is unhappy with life. This triggers the assumption from the viewer that he will commit…show more content…
Mrs. Perry resides in the background where she remains out of focus for the majority of the scene. She is positioned between Neil and his father. This suggests that she is unimportant within the situation and possibly in the family. It could also suggest that her view on Neil's withdrawal from Helton School lies between her family's opinions. This is possible as she later seems to empathise with Neil. However, it is more plausible that Neil's mother is inconsequential, which is reflected both through her being ostracized from the discussion, and also that this reflects the archaic nature of the household.
Neil's suppression, and the fact that his Father has expressed his wish for Neil to attend Military School, leads to an insurgent outburst in which Neil confronts his Father. This follows his Father's speech in which Mr. Perry uses a variety of pronouns to express the disparity between Neil and his father's lives. When Neil is told that he has opportunities his father never had, I think this invokes guilt within Neil. The combination of these factors leads to Neil's withdrawal into his chair, into the foetal position. I think this represents the inauguration of Neil's contemplation of suicide. At the end of the scene, Neil's mother kneels down behind him and smiles softly. I think this is suggesting to the viewer that his
One technique that is used in Dead Poet's Society to enhance the overall theme of the film would be in the final scene. The pull back shot that shows many of the students standing on their desk after they have called out, "O Captain, My Captain" to Mr. Keating who is leaving helps to illuminate the impact that the teacher has had on his students. Seeing the scene in a wide frame from Keating's eyes help to allow the viewer to see what impact he has had on his students from his own point of view.
Another technique to emphasize the theme of the film would be when Todd wants to know what the other students have said in terms of implicating Mr. Keating in Neil's death. The camera follows Todd, knocking on the door of another student and talking through the door. The close up of Todd knocking and talking through reflects a condition of loneliness that he experiences. It is a moment where his recognition is our own recognition: He will have to take action for what he knows is right because no one else will. This sense of the forlorn is brought out with this scene.
Finally, the use of setting and cinematography can be seen in Mr. Keating's packing up scene. He stares out the window, alone from the highest of towers. He watches a Latin class reciting their verb tenses outside. Keating looks out from the tower and the capture of the New England Winter along with the class and instruction that he no longer has helps to create a distinct mood. The melancholy in Mr. Keating's character is brought out in this moment. What is more sad than a teacher who does not have a class any more? The combination of the gray, dingy clouds, Mr. Keating alone in a tower, and him looking on what he no longer possesses helps to construct a sad emotinoal reality at this tender moment.