John Keating (played by Robin Williams) is unlike any other teacher the students at Welton Academy have ever experienced. His methods are unorthodox, to say the least, but the impact on his pupils’ sense of self is immense.
Keating teaches them the meaning of ‘carpe diem’, or seizing life and living as if every day were their last. He takes them from the classroom setting often, showing them that life is learned from experiencing, not being confined in a room. The Dead Poets Society was a school literary club years before, when Keating himself was a student at Welton. His students decide to revive the club, meeting in secret in an off-campus cave.
One particular student, Neil, wants to be an actor, but knows his father would never allow it. Under Keating’s urging, however, he lands a part in the school play, though once his father finds out, he is pulled out of the academy and threatened with military school instead. Faced with this insufferable future, Neil takes his own life, leaving his fellow classmates in shock and utter disbelief. When parental pressure for an investigation into the death puts focus on Keating and his teachings, one of the students points the finger at him as the reason for Neil’s tragic decision. One by one, the boys are persuaded (unwillingly) to sign a paper stating this belief, and to reveal that their participation in the secretive Dead Poets Society was incited by him.
Keating is fired from his position, but on the day he returns to collect some belongings from the classroom, he is informed by one of the boys that they were all forced to sign the paper. One calls out “Oh captain, my captain”, a phrase Keating told them they could call him if they dared. Each stands on his desk in support of their beloved teacher, a motion that touches Keating deeply. He quietly thanks them and exits the classroom for the last time.
Tribute Tea Company has a Yunnan Moonlight Buds white tea: peppery and slightly spicy, but with a smooth, sweet finish, perfect to sip while immersed in this film. After all, the Dead Poets Society met at night, the time of moonlight. Mighty Leaf has a Celebration tea: black tea infused with Longan, a Chinese fruit, offering fruity and chocolatey notes. The celebration of the students’ being awakened from a state of mental slumber makes this tea a great movie companion. Keating was responsible for igniting the suppressed passion for life within each student, so to pair with this aspect, we turn to Tazo Tea, and their herbal infusion called Passion, a blend of hibiscus, rose hips and passion fruit.
Typically, this is where I would finish the What’s Brewing Tonight piece. But for this special installment, I feel I MUST continue on a bit, and pay tribute to one of the most talented actors of our time. Robin Williams was one of those people who could make you laugh without much effort on his part. Every film and television show he appeared in struck a chord in our hearts, starting with the loveable alien, Mork from the planet Ork, and continuing on through films such as Good Morning, Vietnam; Mrs. Doubtfire; The Birdcage and many, many more. His passing will leave a void in my heart, as well as the hearts of many across the world.
Oh Captain, my Captain, you will be sorely missed, but we wish you safe and happy travels into the great beyond.