When Dead Poets Society was released in 1989, I went to see it at a cinema in Newcastle Upon Tyne. I’m pretty sure it was the Odeon, but there’s a small chance it was somewhere else, maybe the Tyneside Cinema across the road from the Odeon. I really, really enjoyed the film. I found it moving, inspirational and it really moved me.
But what I remember most about seeing it is that I cried. The cinema was packed, so busy that it wasn’t possible to sit with the people I’d gone with. We all ended up sitting on our own, amid the crowded rows of people. You’ll note I’m being vague about how many of us there were, because once again, I’m not 100% sure who I was with. I think it might have been David Sant, or a few of us. I really wish my memory for people was as good as my memory of the movies themselves, but alas it’s not to be.
Anyway, we were forced to sit on our own as it were, surrounded by strangers. Once the film got going it wasn’t a huge issue, after all it’s not like we’re going to be chatting to each other, although it made the adverts slightly less interesting. However, by the time we got near the end which if you’ve seen it you’ll know is highly emotional, tears were streaming from my eyes, I’m man enough to admit it. I was balling my eyes out. I was flooding the row of seats. Which is all the more embarrassing when you’re sitting next to people you don’t know sniffling, and yet also incredibly handy since you’re never going to see them again in your life (most likely). I remember standing, when it had finished, and trying to get my eyes and face dry before making it back out into the light, so that no one would know I’d been crying only moments before.
That is my enduring memory of Dead Poets Society.
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world — John Keating