"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old
time is still a flying, and this same
flower that smiles today, tomorrow will
Thank you Mr. Dalton. Armies of academics
going forward, measuring poetry. No, we
will not have that here. No more of Mr.
J. Evans Pritchard. Now in my class you
will learn to think for yourselves again.
You will learn to savor words and language.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and
ideas can change the world. I see that look
in Mr. Pitt's eye, like nineteenth century
literature has nothing to do with going to
business school or medical school. Right?
Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him,
thinking "Yes, we should simply study our
Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter
and go quietly about the business of
achieving other ambitions." I have a little
secret for ya. Huddle up. Huddle up!
The boys get up from their seats and gather around Keating in the center
of the class.
We don't read and write poetry because
it's cute. We read and write poetry
because we are members of the human race.
And the human race is filled with passion.
Medicine, law, business, engineering,
these are all noble pursuits, and necessary
to sustain life. But poetry, beauty,
romance, love, these are what we stay alive
for. To quote from Whitman: "O me, o life
of the questions of these recurring, of the
endless trains of the faithless, of cities
filled with the foolish. 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. That the powerful
play goes on and you may contribute a verse.
Keating looks up at Todd.
What will your verse be?
Quite an interesting class you gave today,
I'm sorry if I shocked you, Mr. McAllister.
Oh, there's no need to apologize. It was
very fascinating, misguided though it was.
You think so?
You take a big risk by encouraging them to
be artists John. When they realize they're
not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts,
they'll hate you for it.
We're not talking artists George, we're
talking free thinkers.
Free thinkers at seventeen?
Funny, I never pegged you as a cynic.
(taken aback by the comment)
Not a cynic, a realist. Show me the heart
unfettered by foolish dreams, and I'll
show you a happy man.
But only in their dreams can man be truly
free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus
The Dead Poets were dedicated to sucking
the marrow out of life. That's a phrase
from Thoreau that we'd invoke at the
beginning of each meeting. You see we'd
gather at the old Indian cave and take
turns reading from Thoreau, Whitman,
Shelley; the biggies. Even some of our
own verse. And in the enchantment of the
moment we'd let poetry work its magic.
You mean it was a bunch of guys sitting
around reading poetry?
No Mr. Overstreet, it wasn't just "guys",
we weren't a Greek organization, we were
romantics. We didn't just read poetry,
we let it drip from our tongues like honey.
Spirits soared, women swooned, and gods
were created, gentlemen, not a bad way to
spend an evening eh? Thank you Mr. Perry
for this trip down amnesia lane. Burn that,
especially my picture.
Keating hands the annual back and walks away, whistling once again. Neil
I hereby reconvene the Dead Poets
The boys cheer.
Welton chapter. The meetings will be
conducted by myself and the other new
initiates now present. Todd Anderson,
because he prefers not to read, will
keep minutes of the meetings. I'll now
read the traditional opening message by
society member Henry David Thoreau. "I
went to the woods because I wanted to
live deliberately. I wanted to live deep
and suck out all the marrow of life."
I'll second that.
"To put to rout all that was not life,
and not, when I had come to die,
discover that I had not lived.
Several boys whistle softly in reaction to the poem.
"In a mean abode in the shanking road,
lived a man named William Bloat. Now,
he had a wife, the plague of his life,
who continually got his goat. And one
day at dawn, with her nightshift on,
he slit her bloody throat."
Alfred Lord Tennyson.
Come my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world
for my purpose holds to sail beyond the
And though we are not now that strength
which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we
are, we are;--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to
The students are all back in their normal seats and Keating leaps
up onto his desk.
Why do I stand up here? Anybody?
To feel taller.
Keating rings the bell on his desk with his foot
Thank you for playing, Mr. Dalton. I
stand upon my desk to remind yourself
that we must constantly look at things
in a different way.
Keating glances around the classroom from atop the desk.
You see, the world looks very different
from up here. You don't believe me? Come
see for yourself. Come on. Come on!
Charlie and Neil quickly rise from their seats to go to the front
of the classroom. The rest of the class follows them. While Keating
continues speaking, Neil and Charlie join him on the desk and then
Keating jumps down.
Just when you think you know something,
you have to look at it in another way.
Even though it may seem silly or wrong,
you must try! Now, when you read, don't
just consider what the author thinks.
Consider what you think.
Boys, you must strive to find your own
voice. Because the longer you wait to
begin, the less likely you are to find
it at all. Thoreau said, "Most men lead
lives of quiet desperation." Don't be
resigned to that. Break out!
Keating notices Spaz and another boy leaving the desk immediately.
Don't just walk off the edge like lemmings.
Look around you.
The school bell rings as the boys continue to climb onto the desk.
Keating begins to gather up his stuff. The clock begins to toll as
Keating walks to the back of the class.
There! There you go, Mr. Priske. Thank
you! Yes! Dare to strike out and find
new ground. Now, in addition to your
essays, I would like you to compose a
poem of your own, an original work.
The students begin to groan. Keating begins flickering the lights
off and on while chanting ominously.
That's right! You have to deliver it
aloud in front of the class on Monday.
Bonne chance, gentlemen.
Keating steps out into the hall before quickly peeking back in once again.
Todd is the last one to stand on the desk and is about to jump off.
Mr. Anderson? Don't think that I don't
know that this assignment scares the
hell out of you, you mole.
Keating flicks the light off, leaving Todd to jump down in the darkness
as the students laugh.
So, I'm gonna act. Yes, yes! I'm gonna
be an actor! Ever since I can remember,
I've wanted to try this. I even tried to
go to summer stock auditions last year,
but, of course, my father wouldn't let
me. For the first time in my whole life
I know what I wanna do.
Neil grabs a handful of papers off Todd's bed and tosses them into
and for the first time I'm gonna do it
whether my father wants me to or not!
Neil, Neil, hold on a minute. How are
you gonna be in a play if your father
won't let you?
First I gotta get the part, then I can
worry about that.
Yeah, but won't he kill you if he finds
out you went to an audition and didn't
even tell him?
No, no, no, no. As far as I'm concerned,
he won't have to know about any of this.
Well, that's impossible.
Bullshit! Nothing's impossible.
Well, why don't you just call him and
ask him? And m-maybe he'll say yes.
That's a laugh!
Neil tosses the blanket back onto his bed.
If I don't ask him, at least I won't
be disobeying him.
Yeah, but if he said--
Jesus, Todd! Whose side are you on?
Todd says nothing. Neil looks at him for a moment and then takes
the flyer back from Todd. He walks over to the window, his
I mean, I haven't even gotten the part
yet. Can't I even enjoy the idea for a
Once again, Todd says nothing. After a moment, Neil sits on the
heater and Todd returns to his poem.
You're coming to the meeting this
I don't know. Maybe.
Nothing Mr. Keating has to say means
shit to you, does it, Todd?
W-What is that supposed to mean?
You're in the club! Being in the club
means being stirred up by things. You
look about as stirred up as a cesspool.
Neil gets up from the window and stands over Todd.
So- You want me out?
No! I want you in, but being in means
you gotta do something. Not just say
Well, listen, Neil. I-I appreciate this
concern, but I-I'm not like you. All
right? You, you, you say thing and
people listen. I'm, I'm not like that.
Don't you think you could be?
No! I--I, I don't know, but that's not
the point. The, the, the point is that
there's nothing you can do about it, so
you can just butt out. I can take care
of myself just fine. All right?
What do you mean, "no"?
A smile comes to Neil's face.
Now, devotees may argue that one sport
or game is inherently better than
another. For me, sport is actually a
chance for us to have other human beings
push us to excel. I want you all to come
over here and take a slip of paper and
line up single file.
"Oh to struggle against great odds. To
meet enemies undaunted."
"To be a sailor of the world, bound for
"Oh, I live to be the ruler of life, not
"To mount the scaffolds. To advance to
the muzzle of guns with perfect
"To dance, clap hands, exalt, shout,
skip, roll on, float on."
"Oh, to have life henceforth the poem of
"To indeed be a god!"
Charlie looks up from his desk with a grin.
I see a sweetness in her smile.
Blight light shines from her eyes.
But life is complete; contentment is
Just knowing that...
Several students begin to snicker.
just knowing that she's alive.
Knox crumples his poem and walks back to his desk.
Sorry, Captain. It's stupid.
No, no. It's not stupid. It's a good
effort. It touched on one of the major
themes, love. A major theme not only in
poetry, but life. Mr. Hopkins, you were
laughing. You're up.
Hopkins slowly walks to the front of the class and unfolds
his piece of paper.
"The cat sat on the mat."
Congratulations, Mr. Hopkins. Yours is
the first poem to ever have a negative
score on the Pritchard scale. We're not
laughing at you, we're laughing near
you. I don't mind that your poem had a
simple theme. Sometimes the most
beautiful poetry can be about simple
things, like a cat, or a flower or rain.
You see, poetry can come from anything
with the stuff of revelation in it. Just
don't let your poems be ordinary. Now,
Keating approaches Todd's desk.
Mr. Anderson, I see you sitting there in
agony. Come on, Todd, step up. Let's put
you out of your misery.
I, I didn't do it. I didn't write a
Mr. Anderson thinks that everything
inside of him is worthless and
embarrassing. Isn't that right, Todd?
Isn't that your worst fear? Well, I
think you're wrong. I think you have
something inside of you that is worth a
Keating walks up to the blackboard and begins to write.
"I sound my barbaric yawp over the
rooftops of the world." W. W. Uncle Walt
again. Now, for those of you who don't
know, a yawp is a loud cry or yell. Now,
Todd, I would like you to give us a
demonstration of a barbaric "yawp." Come
on. You can't yawp sitting down. Let's
go. Come on. Up.
Todd reluctantly stands and follows Keating to the front.
You gotta get in "yawping" stance.
No, not just a yawp. A barbaric yawp.
Come on, louder.
No, that's a mouse. Come on. Louder.
Oh, good God, boy. Yell like a man!
There it is. You see, you have a
barbarian in you, after all.
Todd goes to return to his seat but Keating stops him.
Now, you don't get away that easy.
Keating turns Todd around and points out a picture on the wall.
The picture of Uncle Walt up there. What
does he remind you of? Don't think.
Answer. Go on.
Keating begins to circle around Todd.
What kind of madman? Don't think about
it. Just answer again.
A c-crazy madman.
No, you can do better than that. Free up
your mind. Use your imagination. Say the
first thing that pops into your head,
even if it's total gibberish. Go on, go
Uh, uh, a sweaty-toothed madman.
Good God, boy, there's a poet in you,
after all. There, close your eyes. Close
your eyes. Close 'em. Now, describe what
Keating puts his hands over Todd's eyes and they begin to slowly
Uh, I-I close my eyes.
Uh, and this image floats beside me.
A sweaty-toothed madman?
A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare
that pounds my brain.
Oh, that's excellent. Now, give him
action. Make him do something.
H-His hands reach out and choke me.
That's it. Wonderful. Wonderful.
Keating removes his hands from Todd but Todd keeps his eyes
And, and all the time he's mumbling.
What's he mumbling?
M-Mumbling, "Truth. Truth is like, like
a blanket that always leaves your feet
The students begin to laugh and Todd opens his eyes. Keating
quickly gestures for him to close them again.
Forget them, forget them. Stay with the
blanket. Tell me about that blanket.
Y-Y-Y-You push it, stretch it, it'll
never be enough. You kick at it, beat
it, it'll never cover any of us. From
the moment we enter crying to the moment
we leave dying, it will just cover your
face as you wail and cry and scream.
Todd opens his eyes. The class is silent. Then they begin to clap
(whispering to Todd)
Don't you forget this.
The students are standing in a line while Cameron, Pitts, and Knox
are walking in a circle. Keating watches as they go around.
No grades at stake, gentlemen. Just take
After a few moments, the three boys begin to march to the same beat.
There it is.
The other boys start clapping to the rhythm of their steps.
I don't know, but I've been told--
I don't know, but I've been told--
Doing poetry is old--
Doing poetry is old--
Mr. Nolan looks out at them from his office as Keating joins the
boys and begins marching with them.
Left, left, left-right-left. Left, left,
left-right-left. Left, halt!
The boys come to a halt.
Thank you, gentlemen. If you noticed,
everyone started off with their own
stride, their own pace.
Keating begins walking very slowly.
Mr. Pitts, taking his time. He knew he'll
get there one day. Mr. Cameron, you could
see him thinking, "Is this right? It might
be right. It might be right. I know that.
Maybe not. I don't know."
Keating begins walking with his groin pushed forward.
Mr. Overstreet, driven by deeper force.
Yes. We know that. All right. Now, I
didn't bring them up here to ridicule
them. I brought them up here to illustrate
the point of conformity: the difficulty in
maintaining your own beliefs in the face
of others. Now, those of you -- I see
the look in your eyes like, "I would've
walked differently." Well, ask
yourselves why you were clapping. Now,
we all have a great need for acceptance.
But you must trust that your beliefs are
unique, your own, even though others may
think them odd or unpopular, even though
the herd may go, "That's baaaaad." Robert
Frost said, "Two roads diverged in a
wood and I, I took the one less traveled
by, and that has made all the
difference." Now, I want you to find
your own walk right now. Your own way of
striding, pacing. Any direction.
Anything you want. Whether it's proud,
whether it's silly, anything. Gentlemen,
the courtyard is yours.
The students begin walking about, some walking casually, others
making up silly walks. Keating notices that Charlie is still
leaning up against one of the pillars.
You don't have to perform. Just make it
for yourself. Mr. Dalton? You be joining
Exercising the right not to walk.
Thank you, Mr. Dalton. You just
illustrated the point. Swim against the
Guys, I have an announcement to make. In
keeping with the spirit of passionate
experimentation of the Dead Poets, I'm
giving up the name Charlie Dalton. From
now on, call me Nuwanda.
You kicked out?
So what happened?
I'm to turn everybody in, apologize to
the school and all will be forgiven.
So, what are you gonna do? Charlie!
Damn it, Neil. The name is Nuwanda.
Charlie smiles and then shuts his door.
This was my first classroom, John. Did
you know that? My first desk.
Didn't know you taught, Mr. Nolan.
English. Oh, long before your time. It
was hard giving it up, I can tell you.
I'm hearing rumors, John, about some
unorthodox teaching methods in your
classroom. I'm not saying they've
anything to do with the Dalton boy's
outburst. But I don't think I have to
warn you boys his age are very
Well, your reprimand made quite an
impression, I'm sure.
What was going on in the courtyard the
Yeah. Boys marching, clapping in unison.
Oh, that. That was an exercise to prove
a point. Dangers of conformity.
Well, John, the curriculum here is set.
It's proven it works. If you question,
what's to prevent them from doing the
I always thought the idea of educating
was to learn to think for yourself.
At these boys' ages? Not on your life!
Tradition, John. Discipline. Prepare
them for college, and the rest will take
care of itself.
Mr. Dalton. That was a pretty lame stunt
you pulled today.
You're siding with Mr. Nolan? What about
Carpe diem and sucking all the marrow
out of life and all that?
Sucking the marrow out of life doesn't
mean choking on the bone. Sure there's a
time for daring and there's a time for
caution, and a wise man understands
which is called for.
But I thought you'd like that.
No. You being expelled from school is
not daring to me. It's stupid, 'cause
you'll miss some golden opportunities.
Yeah. Like what?
Like, if nothing else, the opportunity
to attend my classes. Got it, Ace?
Aye, aye, Captain.
Keep your head about you. That goes for
the lot of you.
Phone call from God. If it had been
collect, it wouldn't been daring.
Neil opens the door to his room and sees his father sitting at his desk.
Wait a minute. Before you say anything,
please let me ex-
Mr. Perry rises from the desk.
Don't you dare talk back to me! It's bad
enough that you've wasted your time with
this, this absurd acting business. But
you deliberately deceived me! How, how,
how did you expect to get away with
this? Answer me. Who put you up to it?
Was it this new man? This, uh, Mr.
No. Nobody-- I thought I'd surprise you.
I've gotten all A's in every class.
Did you think I wasn't going to find
out? "Oh, my niece is in a play with
your son," says Mrs. Marks. "No, no,
no," I say, "you must be mistaken. My
son's not in a play." You made me a liar
of me, Neil! Now, tomorrow you go to
them and you tell them that you're
No, I can't. I have the main part. The
performance is tomorrow night.
I don't care if the world comes to an
end tomorrow night. You are through with
that play. Is that clear? Is that clear?
Mr. Perry goes to leave and then turns around.
I made a great many sacrifices to get
you here, Neil, and you will not let me
Keating is seated at his desk. He is writing a letter and occasionally
looks up at the framed photo on his desk of a woman playing the cello.
There is a knock at the door.
Neil enters and closes the door behind him. He appears to be nervous.
Neil, what's up?
Can I speak to you a minute?
Certainly. Sit down.
Neil goes to take a seat but notices the chair is piled up with books.
Neil picks them up and Keating gets up from his seat to help him.
I'm sorry. Here.
Excuse me. Get you some tea?
Keating goes to a table in the corner and begins pouring several cups.
Like some milk or sugar in that?
Gosh, they don't give you much room
No, it's part of the monastic oath. They
don't want worldly things distracting me
from my teaching.
Keating gives Neil a cup of tea and they return to their seats. Neil
looks at the photo on the desk.
She's also in London. Makes it a little
How can you stand it?
You can go anywhere. You can do
anything. How can you stand being here?
'Cause I love teaching. I don't wanna be
I just talked to my father. He's making
me quit the play at Henley Hall.
Acting's everything to me. I-- But he
doesn't know. He-- I can see his point.
We're not a rich family like Charlie's,
and we-- But he's planning the rest of
my life for me, and I-- H-He's never
asked me what I want.
Have you ever told your father what you
just told me? About your passion for
acting. You ever show him that?
I can't talk to him this way.
Then you're acting for him, too. You're
playing the part of the dutiful son. I
know this sounds impossible, but you
have to talk to him. You have to show
him who you are, what your heart is.
I know what he'll say. He'll tell me
that acting's a whim, and I should
forget it. That how they're counting on
me. He'll just tell me to put it out of
my mind, "for my own good."
You are not an indentured servant. If
it's not a whim for you, you prove it to
him by your conviction and your passion.
You show him that And if he still
doesn't believe you, well, by then
you'll be out of school and you can do
anything you want.
A tear falls down Neil's cheek and he wipes it away.
No. What about the play? The show's
Well, you have to talk to him before
Isn't there an easier way?
No, you're not.
We're trying very hard to understand why
it is that you insist on defying us.
Whatever the reason, we're not gonna let
you ruin your life. Tomorrow I'm
withdrawing you from Welton and
enrolling you in Braden Military School.
You're going to Harvard and you're gonna
be a doctor.
But that's ten more years. Father,
that's a lifetime!
Oh, stop it. Don't be so dramatic. You
make it sound like a prison term. You
don't understand, Neil. You have
opportunities that I never even dreamt
of and I am not going to let you waste
Neil rises to his feet.
I've got to tell you what I feel.
Mrs. Perry stands up.
We've been so worried about--
What? What? Tell me what you feel. What
Neil looks to his mother and then back to his father but says
Is it more of this, this acting
business? Because you can forget that.
Neil sits back down dejectedly.
Nothing? Well, then, let's go to bed.
Mr. Perry leaves. Mrs. Perry pauses on her way out and kneels
I was good. I was really good.
Mrs. Perry nods slightly.
Go on, get some sleep.
INT. NEIL'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Neil's pyjamas, bathrobe, towel, and shaving kit are all neatly
laid out on his bed. Neil touches his pyjamas lightly and then
removes his coat and shirt. He walks over to the windows and
opens them, taking several deep breaths. He places the crown of
twigs on his head and then closes his eyes, slowly letting his head
fall to his chest.
INT. HALLWAY - NIGHT
A door opens and Neil emerges, slowly walking down the stairs as if
in a trance.
INT. MR. PERRY'S STUDY - NIGHT
Neil holds a key in his hands. He unlocks a drawer in his father's
desk and pulls out a pistol, wrapped in cloth.
INT. MR. PERRY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
Mr. Perry jerks up out of bed, startled and breathing fast.
What was that?
What sound? Tom?
Mr. Perry turns on the light and gets up out of bed, putting on his
robe and slippers.
What is it? What's wrong?
Mr. Perry turns on the hallway light and knocks on Neil's door. He opens
the door and goes inside.
Mr. Perry notices the open window.
Tom, what is it? What's wrong? Neil?
Mr. Perry continues to look through the house, continuing downstairs.
Mr. Perry notices the door to his study is ajar.
I'll look outside. Neil?
Mr. Perry flicks the light on but sees nothing. Then he smells
something. Looking closer, he sees a thin cloud of smoke rising from
behind his desk. As he moves around the desk he sees his gun on the
floor and Neil's outstretched hand.
Mr. Perry crouches down by his son.
Oh, Neil! Oh, my God!
Mrs. Perry enters the room and sees her son.
Oh, my son!
He's all right.
My son! My poor son!
He's all right! He's all right! He's all
right! He's all right! He's all right!
He's all right!
Stop it! Stop it! Stop it.
Mr. Perry holds his wife and tries to comfort her.
Todd is sleeping. Charlie reaches across to wake him. Tears are
running down his face.
Todd, still half asleep, tries to shrug him off.
Todd opens his eyes and sees Charlie's face
What is it?
Todd looks over to see Pitts, Meeks, and Knox by the door.
EXT. CAMPUS - DAY
It is a snowy, overcast morning. Todd walks through the snow. He
has his coat on over his pyjamas. The other boys follow closely
behind him as he walks down towards the water. He stops and stares
out at the snow-covered surroundings.
It's so beautiful.
Todd begins to gag and then goes down on his knees, vomiting into
the snow. The other boys huddle around him, hugging him.
Todd. It's okay, Todd.
It's all right, Todd.
Todd, it's okay. It's okay, Todd.
It's all right. It's alright.
Charlie grabs a handful of snow and wipes Todd's mouth with it.
He wouldn't-- He wouldn't have done it.
You can't explain it, Todd.
It was his father!
He wouldn't have left us. It's because he-
He wouldn't have. His dad was-- his, his
father did it.
His father killed him. He made him do it.
You can't explain it, Todd.
Todd pushes himself away from the boys and stumbles down the hill,
slipping and falling in the snow.
Leave him be.
The boys watch as Todd runs down towards the dock by the river,
yelling and crying. He finally seems to regain control of himself
and walks in silence out onto the dock.
Keating passes by Todd and the others and gets to the back of the
classroom before Todd leaps up from his seat and turns to face him.
Mr. Keating! They made everybody sign
Mr. Nolan gets up from his desk and approaches Todd.
Quiet, Mr. Anderson.
You gotta believe me. It's true.
I do believe you, Todd.
Leave, Mr. Keating.
But it wasn't his fault!
Sit down, Mr. Anderson!
Todd reluctantly returns to his seat.
One more outburst from you or anyone
else, and you're out of this school!
Leave, Mr. Keating.
Keating hesitates at the back of the classroom.
I said leave, Mr. Keating.
Keating slowly turns and heads to the door. As he opens
it, Todd, stands upon his desk and turns to Keating.
O Captain! My Captain!
Sit down, Mr. Anderson!
Keating pauses at the door and looks back at Todd on his desk.
Do you hear me? Sit down! Sit down! This
is your final warning, Anderson. How
dare you? Do you hear me?
After a moment of indecision, Knox climbs up onto his desk.
O Captain! My Captain!
Mr. Overstreet, I warn you! Sit down!
Pitts climbs up onto his desk, followed by several others,
Sit down! Sit down. All of you. I want
you seated. Sit down. Leave, Mr.
More students stand on their desks until half the class is standing.
All of you, down. I want you seated. Do
you hear me?
Keating stands in the doorway, staring up at the boys in wonder. A
smile comes to his face.
Thank you, boys. Thank you.