By Sheridan Cyr
Central’s own Helix literary magazine hosted a screening of “Dead Poets Society,” Thursday evening in honor of Robin Williams’ passing. Students were invited to bring a lawn chair, grab a cup of warm apple cider and cozy up outside of the Student Center to enjoy one of Williams’ most moving films.
The story opens up with a group of boys reciting Welton Academy’s four principles in the opening ceremony: tradition, honor, discipline and excellence. We quickly begin to see how strictly the all boys’ boarding school is run. The staff seem to do everything in their nature to keep students close-minded, get their work done and graduate as professional, robotic intellectuals.
Mr. John Keating, Robin Williams’ character, brings a bold, vibrant, unheard-of change to their seemingly dull education when he takes the place of the retired poetry professor.
On their first day of class, Keating instructs the boys to tear out the first chapter of their textbook that described poetry as an almost-mathematical phenomenon. He continues performing tactics like this, demanding that his students stand upon their desks to see the world differently, march madly around the University and shout lines of poetry in the classroom.
The students grow to love Mr. Keating, although they know his methods are risky. They learn of the Dead Poets Society and recreate their own immediately, as Keating had when he was a student.
In the end, the students had pulled far away from the university and their parents’ established ways. One of the main characters, Neil Perry, becomes so distraught that he takes his own life in reaction to his father’s disapproval. This, and the reinstated Dead Poets Society, is put on Keating’s shoulders, and he gets fired.
Keating asked the boys to invite into their lives the saying: “Carpe Diem,” or ‘seize the day.’ Apparently, the university did not agree.
Robin Williams took his own life on August 11, 2014. It seemed as though the world stopped for a moment upon hearing the news. He was a well-respected and adored actor and comedian. No one saw it coming, and all who knew of him felt the loss deeply.
Some of his most favored films include “Aladdin,” “Mrs. Doubtfire,” “Jumanji” and “Good Morning, Vietnam.” He also starred in the show, “Mork and Mindy” (1978-1982). His career began with stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1970s.
While students dealt with a few cool breezes and bent their necks to see passers-by, they watched in adoration, with open hearts and minds as Williams performed.
And to the man himself: we are saddened to know of his choice to leave. We only wish we could have given him the same lessons he left behind for us. As Mr. Keating said, “This is a battle — a war — and the casualties may be your heart and soul.”