On June 9th, it will be 20 years since the cult classic Dead Poets Society opened in theaters, but apparently the film’s distributor, Disney, has no plans to package a special 20th Anniversary DVD with cast commentary and a publicity tour that reunites the cast on the Today Show or ANYTHING to celebrate this momentous anniversary. It’s a tragedy! Is Disney being run by Neil Perry’s dad or something?
Now, if you’ve never seen Dead Poets Society, well, don’t. You’re too old. It’s too late. You’ll just laugh at it. It’s not like it’s technically an amazing movie or anything, it was just a very influential one to people of a certain age, and someone needs to be the first to stand up on his or her chair and salute this injustly dismissed gem of a film, so I guess it’ll be me. I’ll be the Todd Anderson.
I first saw DPS at age 12, and the next day I started a new, DPS-inspired diary, scrawling”Carpe Diem” across it with a sharpie (duh), and memorizing every poem mentioned in the film. Watching the movie now, it contains no insights that aren’t cliches (seize the day, live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, make your lives extraordinary, be an actor if you want to be an actor even if your dad wants you to be a doctor, desk sets want to fly, don’t kill yourself), but when you’re twelve, nothing is a cliche yet. (See: the Twilight phenomenon.) It was the first movie that seemed to speak directly to me (I’m sure the cute boys helped — I was a Charlie Dalton girl myself), and I can trace pretty much every decision I made as an adolescent back to what was ignited in me by that movie. Mostly, a whole lot of really bad poetry, but also a sense, for the first time, that life was going to go by very fast, and that I could be more than what was expected of me. (I said I got the sense, not that I actually did it.) Aww! Deep stuff! Yawp!
Anyway, I can’t be the only one out there who remains forever indebted to this wonderful little film. And it turns out, I’m not! Apparently, English teachers still use DPS to introduce poetry to their students, and a lot of them have been inspired to make tribute videos on YouTube based on the film. There are over 550 fan-made DPS videos, like this one, set to (or juxtaposed with) the song “No Rain” by Blind Melon, for some reason:
There are also five DPS deleted scenes on YouTube, and even Dead Poet’s Society fan fiction, like this SFW story, “Dammit, Neil, The Name Is Nuwanda.” (Ha.) It’s too late for Disney to put out a real 20th Anniversary edition, but if you know any twelve year olds, you know what to buy them. Here’s the famous last scene, which, with almost half a million views, probably should have told Disney something about the potential demand for this movie by a whole new generation: