Cinema Poetics

Dead Poets Society

“Carpe diem!”

(John Keating, The Dead Poets  Society)

This first time I came across this phrase was in Saul Bellow’s novella, Seize the Day (required reading in a college lit class).

I would have to put Dead Poets Society at the top of my list of favorite poetic movies.  Love Jones would come in at number two.  8 Miles would come in third, even though both movies are about spoken word performance and MC battling.  Another movie worth mentioning would be Slam–interesting in an urban, sociological study kind of way and in its attempt to show the power of the spoken word in the face of poverty and injustice.  Speaking of injustice, Poetic Justice  which should’ve been titled Poetic Injustice (nuff said).  I am sure I would include Bright Star and The Edge of Love on my list, but haven’t because for some whatever reasons, they’re not yet available where I live on DVD.

But watching Dead Poets Society every year, Charlie Dalton/Nuwanda (Gale Hansen) comes off more and more as just a smart-mouthed jerk; introvert, stuttering Todd Anderson (Ethan Hawke) more introverted and stuttering; immature, first love Knox Overstreet (Josh Charles) more immature; Steven Meeks (Allelon Ruggiero) meeker; and Richard Cameron (Dylan Kussman–a “rather unfortunate last name”) frecklier and whinier.  This year, it was rather painful to watch, but it still remains as my favorite poetic movie because back then (1950’s), literature and poetry seemed to have played much more important roles in people’s lives than they do today.  A time when (quoting John Keating) poetry would “drip off our tongues like honey;”  when “poetry, beauty, romance, love” are “what we stay alive for;” and  when reading Whitman really did make you want to let out a barbaric yawlp instead of a bored, stifled yawn.

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About poeticmeditations

A 19th-century romantic poet trying to get by in the 21st-century.
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