The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Touchstone/Disney - 1989
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 129 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.85:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Starring: Robin Williams, Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Norman Lloyd, Kurtwood Smith
Directed by: Peter Weir
Music by: Maurice Jarre
Written by: Tom Schulman
Region Code: A,B,C
Blu-ray Disc release Date: January 17, 2012
"Carpe Diem. He was their inspiration"
For generations, Welton Academy students have been groomed to live lives of conformity and tradition - until new professor John Keating inspires them to think for themselves, live life to the fullest and Carpe Diem. This unconventional approach awakens the spirits of the students, but draws the wrath of a disapproving faculty when an unexpected tragedy strikes the school.
Dead poet's society is one of those film's that sticks with you long after you have seen it. I saw it when it was released back in 1989 and remember it left an impression on me. It has been years since I have seen it and I looked forward to revisiting it for this review. Peter Weir is a visionary director whose interpretation of Tom Schulman's superbly crafted script is perfectly conveyed by cinematographer John Seale. Dead poet's society is a period film that takes place during the late 1950's at Welton Academy, a college prep school in Vermont. Welton's approach to education is to stick with the time honored methods that have worked for years in preparing students to go on to prestigious institutions of learning and into careers as doctors, lawyers, engineers etc. Enter Mr. John Keating, a Welton Alumnus and new English teacher who sees education as a stepping stone to freeing young minds to the limitless possibilities waiting in the world beyond the walls of Welton Academy. Mr. Keating uses poetry as a means to unlock his student's inhibitions by introducing them to its expressive worth. His unconventional approach is a breath of fresh air that serves as inspiration to a group of students who dare to challenge not only the schools but their parent's cyclical bonds of conformity. They decide to resurrect The Dead Poet's Society, a secret club devoted to the spirit of free expression not only through reading poetry but through gathering in friendship. The effect on the boys is both enlightening and positive however the school and their parents see the change in them as nonconformist and detrimental. An unfortunate incident tragically impacts the school resulting in the hunt for a scapegoat. When Mr. Keating is targeted by the administration/parents the members of the Dead Poet's Society are caught between their devotion to him and the consequences of being discovered.
What a great film. These are wonderfully crafted young characters that are faced with pressures/situations that transcend the time period depicted in the story. The script makes a viable connection between them and the subject matter which draws you in, makes you laugh, cry and most importantly identify with them. Robin Williams gives a pitch perfect dramatic performance but it's the young cadre of actors, especially young Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, Josh Charles and Gale Hansen that shine brilliantly. I thoroughly enjoyed revisiting this endearing, stirring, and timeless film that I can't recommend enough.
The rating is for thematic material.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Dead Poet's society comes to Blu-ray Disc from Disney featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 25 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.3 Mbps.
By design this film doesn't boast vibrant colors are eye popping visuals but the encoding appears solid. Colors have a muted level of saturation and those used are rarely bright which give the perception of a limited palette. Overall they are naturally rendered and appear to fall within the visual range intended. Fleshtones have appreciable complexional distinction but the lighting used can sometimes leave them appearing flat and lacking in texture. Blacks are respectable with above average delineation. Shadow detail is good which enhances visual perception during the many scenes shot at night and in limited lighting. Resolution is adequate but the video isn't razor sharp or dimensionally strong. It also isn't very bright which when coupled along with the use of color gives it a drab appearance. Grain is prevalent with stronger emphasis in some darker backgrounds which can make it appear uneven at times. This presentation seems to coincide with the creative decisions of the filmmakers and results in stable imagery that lacks the eye popping definition that some may expect from high definition.
The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack delivered crisp, full bodied dialogue in a mostly frontal presentation that offered a few splashes of light ambience through the surround channels. There was no low frequency detail mixed to the subwoofer but in this film there really is no call for it. The blend of music, dialogue and sound effects through the front channel speakers was rendered with excellent clarity, limited but fair dimensional perspective and average depth. It never sounded thin or dynamically starved and based upon the elements in the recording sounded just fine.
- Dead Poet's a look back - 27 minute featurette
- Raw takes - 8 minutes
- Master of sound: Alan Splet - 11 minute featurette with interviews of director Peter Weir and David Lynch
- Cinematography Master Class - 14 minute workshop
- Audio commentary with director Peter Weir, cinematographer John Seale, and writer Tom Schulman
- Theatrical trailer
It's hard to believe it has been well over 20 years since the release of Dead Poet's Society. It is a stirring, thoughtful and well crafted film that resonates as much today as it did when I first saw in the theater. It makes its debut on Blu-ray featuring faithful high definition audio/video quality and includes the same bonus supplements found on the 2006 Special Edition DVD release. If you already own the special edition DVD this may not be a significant upgrade. However for those who don't or have never seen it this offering from Disney is well worth considering. I am pleased to add Dead Poet's Society to my collection and look forward to seeing it again.
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Fast foward 20+ years, as Ralph pointed out, and this is one of my favorite films of all time. I agree with Ralph...if you haven't seen it, SEE IT.
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