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Dead Poets Society Movie Review

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A. Having watched the film “Dead Poets Society”, discuss the notion of the importance of liberal arts.

Liberal arts, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, are areas of study that are intended to give you general knowledge, rather than to develop specific skills needed for a profession. To simplify the definition, liberal arts enhances the intellectual capacities of the person, it enhances his/her reasons and judgement. This movie did and did not really show the real ideals of the importance of liberal arts.

As stated in the definition, liberal arts enhances the person’s reasons and judgement, the film did a good job with the development of the characters but there is no enhancement of judgement (of the characters) present in the film. Dead Poets Society, for me, did not really show me the real meaning of liberal arts because of the way the characters decide for their own fate. For example is Neil Perry, because of his amusement to the new teacher (Mr. Keating), he joined the bandwagon and went to acting even though his parents doesn’t allow him to. I know people might contradict me with do-want-you-want statement but I will argue with them about know the consequences of your actions and decisions and how it will affect the people around you. (I know there is a theory about that but I already forgot what it is.) Todd did warn Neil about what will happen but Neil insisted. Another from Neil is him killing himself, Mr. Keating told them, “ ‘….what good amid these O me, O life?’, answer, that you are here – that life exists and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse, what will you verse be?” Neil killing himself is just wasting his life, just because his parents does not support him in acting does not mean he will just kill himself. Liberal arts – thinking critically, enhancing judgements – did Neil exercise what he learned from Mr. Keating? No, because if he did, he will explain to his parents, he will tell them what he feel, because maybe, just maybe, there is a tiny possibility that his father will change his mind. Killing is not a solution for a person who was greatly influenced by liberal arts but for a coward, it is.

Another example is Charlie Dalton, because of Mr. Keating’s statement about sucking the marrow out life Charlie rebelled against the school rules and got himself kicked out. Phone call from God, funny but extremely foolish especially knowing the pillars/values of their school. Clearly the students of Mr. Keating did not really make use of his teaching properly, except for Todd.

Todd Anderson is the only one that exercised what he learned from Mr. Keating. For me, he is the character that shows (to the audience) the true meaning and importance of liberal arts. He is the direct opposite of Neil Perry because Todd, at the end, shows bravery to stand up for what he believed in; he has the most development as a character. Just like Mr. Keating told them, “I stand up here to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in different way”, and Todd did really changes. He changes his perspective about life and he breaks out from his fears. What really strikes me most is how Mr. Keating taught me more than I could imagine. Mr. Keating shows the importance of liberal arts when we said, “There's a time for daring and there's a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for,” meaning that we should think before we act and because we have the opportunity to study liberal arts then we must know when, where and how change will take place because we are the once that decide whether to accept that change or not.

B. Discuss the difference between liberalism and liberal education as stated in the school paper article, “Redefining Liberalism”.

Liberal education develops the critical thinking and discipline of the students, it is knowing that you have the rights and freedom of expressing what you want, what to do, it is knowing that you have a choice to do certain things while Liberalism is knowing that you have to take the responsibility as you exercise your freedom. This is how you will act or express what was taught to you in the classroom, how you will apply it in the real life. Liberal education, according to the article, is the orientation of humanities to the students for them to become curious while liberalism is an attitude of the heart and mind of the students. Liberal education is the role of the educators to help the students to seek for the truth while the liberalism is finding the truth and trying to exercise as much effort as possible to share the truth to others.

C. Make a comparative analysis of both the film and article. The film, in my point of view, shows the consequences of liberal arts in the life of the people. It explains how liberal arts could change the lives of people – whether it is good or bad. The film shows the big impact of the educators to the lives of the students they are teaching; that these educators should always keep in mind that they should always guide their students in the path that they are taking because students, like me, look up to people like you. The film showed the importance of liberal arts in the way the students judgements or the way they decide for themselves. It shows the transition of the characters, from being boys they have become a man. The film shows us the application liberal arts to the life of the boys in their daily life. The article shows us the definition of liberal education and liberalism. Liberalism is being open to the new ideas or concepts. That we should respect whatever choice the person chooses. Liberal education is knowing that we could voiced out the things that we want but with responsibilities and caution. The article is a whole lot different from the film because it shows what the film doesn’t have – understanding, acceptance, and freedom.

D. Critique the analysis with specific examples shown in the article and film.

I think that there are a lot of differences between the article and the film but let me just explain their main difference – understanding, acceptance, and freedom. In the film, the school doesn’t have the understanding that the students don’t just need the academic excellence in life; they needed a mind of their own because they are going to make decisions someday that will change their life. They did not want their own students to think in their own but rather think the way the books told them to. I mean where can you even find a formula for understanding poetry? The school needs to understand that not all persons are similar to one another. Even though they were forced act the same, it doesn’t mean that they think the same. In the article, there is a clear understanding that people has the right to express what they want. There is an understanding that whatever they wanted to do, they could do it as long as they know the consequences of their actions. Just like how in the end of the article, there is an understanding that the girl dyed her hair in bold color because she wanted to express herself.

Second is acceptance, one good example of this is how the school doesn’t accept the idea that the boys were already thinking for themselves (on their own). The school doesn’t accept the change that the boys, as the time goes by, experiences. They cannot accept the fact that a humanities teacher has greatly influenced the life of the boys, and that it will take a huge part in their lives rather than the pillars/values that the school has protected. In the article, there is an acceptance to the people that we are humans; we are unique to each other, an acceptance that we believed in different things but they still respect one another.

And lastly is freedom, the film shows that the boys don’t have freedom – freedom to express themselves, freedom to think for themselves, freedom to do what they wanted to do. It is visibly shown in the movie, all throughout the movie, that the boys don’t exercise their freedom. In the article, they have the freedom to do whatever they want, but with discipline, responsibility, and awareness.

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