"DEAD POET'S SOCIETY"
INT. WELTON ACADAMY DINING HALL - DAY - VARIOUS SHOTS
On the left is a life-sized mural depicting a group of young
school boys looking up adoringly at a woman who represents
liberty. On the right is a mural showing young men gathered
around an industrialist in a corporate boardroom. Between
the murals stands a boy.
An odd, blaring MUSICAL SOUND starts and stops, interrupted
by the noise of pumping. A teacher hurries to the boy, adjusts
his tie, and leads him off.
On another wall is a full-sized portrait of a 19th century
Scotsman in a kilt. In front at this, young boys carrying
banners, and several elderly men in old-fashioned costumes
assembling into a processional formation. Nervous younger
boys (7th graders) are shown their places in line and handed
candles. They light each others' candles until all their
candles are lit.
Suddenly the MUSIC BLASTS FORTH in its full splendor. It is
a BAGPIPE. The bagpiper, in a kilt like the one in the
portrait, begins a processional march.
INT. CORRIDOR ADJACENT THE DINING ROOM - SAME
The bagpiper enters a long slate and stone hallway. The
haunting timbre of his antiquated instrument reverberates
through the building. Momentarily, he is followed by the
other processional marchers. He leads them down the corridor
and down a threshold staircase into:
INT. WELTON'S OLD, STONE CHAPEL - CONTINUOUS
Where two hundred high school-aged boys--most of whom wear
black blazers--sit on either side of the central aisle
watching the procession move onto the dais in front. Beside
most of these boys are their parents.
VARIOUS ANGLES ON THE PROCESSION
FOUR 16-YEAR-OLD Boys CARRY BANNERS.
Each boy is dressed in an archaic, turn-of-the-century outfit.
On each banner is emblazoned a different word. One reads
"TRADITION", another reads "HONOR", a third reads
"DISCIPLINE", the last reads "EXCELLENCE."
THE ELDERLY MEN in their 70s and SOS, obviously the school's
oldest alumni, each wearing a name tag and the uniform of
his day, make their way toward the stage.
THE SEVENTH GRADERS
carrying candles are nervous and self-conscious. Most
concentrate intently on keeping their candles lit while they
march. One young boy's candle has gone cut and he can barely
keep from crying.
The bagpiper stands at the corner of the dais, marching in
place. Behind him, in black robes, sit the school's 30-odd
teachers. The processional's elderly alumni fill the chairs
of honor on the dais.
The four young BANNER CARRIERS peel off from the main aisle
and take seats beside their parents in the audience. The 7th
graders take seats with their parents too. A purple and black
robed man who brings up the rear of the procession walks up
to the podium. He is HEADMASTER GALE NOLAN, a big man, in
his mid-60s. The music stops.
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished
alumni, and students: This year marks
the one hundredth year that Welton
Academy has been in existence.
Applause begins. Soon the whole room is standing in a
thunderous ovation. After an appropriate amount of time,
Nolan motions for everyone to be seated.
One hundred years ago, in 1859, forty-
one boys sat in this room and were
asked the same question that now
greets you at the start of each
semester: Gentlemen, what are the
All of the students stand at attention. Find TODD ANDERSON
sitting between his parents. Todd is 16, good looking, but
he seems beaten down, lacking confidence, unhappy. He wears
a name tag and no Welton blazer. When the others stand, Todd's
mother nudges him. Todd stands. He watches as the other
ALL THE BOYS IN UNISON
Tradition! Honor! Discipline! Excellence!
All the boys sit. Todd sits too. All is silent again.
In her first year, Welton Academy
graduated five students. Last year
we graduated fifty-one and over
seventy-five percent of those went
to the Ivy League!
Applause. During it we find KNOX OVERSTREET and CHARLIE
DALTON, both 16, and both in Welton blazers. Knox (sitting
between his parents) carries a banner. He has curly hair,
looks outgoing, is short but well built. Charlie, also with
his parents, has a handsome yet friendly face. He carries no
banner but, when Nolan mentions Ivy League, both these boys
fit the bill.
This kind of accomplishment is the
result of fervent dedication to the
principles taught here. This is why
you parents have been sending us
your sons, and this is why we are
the best preparatory school in the
All turn to look at the new students the 7th graders and
transfer students. Todd Anderson is among them and he looks
The key to your success rests on our
four pillars. These are the bywords
of this school and they will become
the cornerstones of your lives.
Welton Society candidate Richard
In the audience, not far from Todd is RICHARD CAMERON, one
of the banner carriers, 16, his father's little clone. He
stands eagerly to attention. Too eagerly.
What is Tradition?
Tradition, Mr. Nolan, is love of
school, country, and family. Our
tradition at Welton is to be the
Good, Mr. Cameron. Welton Society
Candidate George Hopkins. Honor.
Cameron sits. His father beams smugly.
Honor is dignity and the fulfillment
Good, Mr. Hopkins. Honor Society
Candidate, Knox Overstreet.
Knox, as mentioned, is a banner-holder. He stands.
What is discipline?
Discipline is respect for parents,
teachers, headmaster. Discipline
comes from within.
Thank you, Mr. Overstreet. Honor
Candidate Neil Perry.
Knox sits. Knox's proud father and mother give him pats of
encouragement. NEIL PERRY stands. Whereas some boys have two
or three achievement pins an the lapels of their coats, Neil
has a huge cluster of them on the pocket of his jacket. Neil
is 16, intense, a born leader. However, there is more than a
hint of anger and dissatisfaction in his eyes. Beside him
sits his unsmiling father, MR. PERRY.
Excellence, Mr. Perry.
Excellence is the result of hard
work. Excellence is the key to all
success, in school and everywhere.
Neil sits. He doesn't look at his father nor does his father
look at him.
Gentlemen, at Welton you will work
harder than you have ever worked in
your lives, and your reward will be
the success that all of us expect of
you. I would now like to call to the
podium Welton's oldest living graduate--
Mr. Alexander Carmichael, Jr., Class
An octogenarian on stage shuns help from those beside him
and makes his way slowly--excruciatingly slowly--to the podium
As the audience rises to another standing ovation
EXT. THE WELTON ACADEMY - MAIN LAWN - DAY
Welton Academy is a cluster of traditional weathered stone
buildings. The time is 1959 but at Welton this is irrelevant.
This school with its traditions is completely isolated from
the politics or trends of the outside world.
The students stand with their parents under a giant tent.
Finger food, coffee, tea and punch are laid cut on white
Charlie's mother stands dotingly fixing Charlie's hair.
Then she kisses him.
Knox's father has his hand affectionately around his son.
Mr. Perry stands adjusting the achievement pins on Neil's
Todd Anderson's parents stand chatting with another couple,
paying no attention to Todd who looks very much alone. Mr.
Nolan walks by and looks at Todd's name tag.
Ah, Mr. Anderson. You have some big
shoes to fill, young man. Your brother
was one of our best.
Neil's father, Neil in tow, approaches Nolan and interrupts.
Gale. what's this I hear about a new
junior English teacher?
Mr. Gladden took the Headmaster's
post at Malford, so we've hired John
A former student, I hear?
A star student, Mr. Perry. And he's
spent the last ten years teaching at
the McMillan School in Edinburgh.
Nolan looks around. He finds, then indicates:
ACROSS THE LAWN a black-robed teacher stands with his back
to us, staring at the beautiful Welton LAKE. As if he sensed
he was being watched, he turns and faces us. This is JOHN
KEATING, late 30s, sparkling eyes.
Nolan puts his arm on Mr. Perry's shoulder and leads him
Come meet him. You'll like him.
We watch Nolan escort Mr. Perry across the lawn and introduce
him to Mr. Keating who walks up to greet them. Todd stands
alone, looking around. Neil Perry, now left alone, does the
same. Both watch the other students saying good-byes to their
EXT. THE WELTON ACADEMY PARKING LOT - DAY
The 7th graders are saying good-bye to their parents. Chins
quiver. Young eyes hold back tears. Some boys sob. For most
of these young boys this is the first time in their lives
that they will be away from their parents and their homes,
and it is a devastating experience.
LONG SHOT, WELTON ACADEMY - SAME
Welton Academy sits in a lonely and isolated valley in woods
of Vermont. Though the setting is beautiful, its isolation
only highlights the loneliness that most of the 7th graders
feel at this moment.
INT. THE WELTON ACADEMY OAK PANELED HONOR ROOM - DAY
The 50 or so members of the junior class sit in chairs or
stand around the room. The students that were featured earlier
are here: Todd Anderson, Neil Perry, Knox Overstreet, Charlie
Dalton, Richard Cameron. All except Todd wear Welton blazers.
Todd sticks out and he knows it.
A staircase against a wall leads to a 2nd-floor door. That
door opens and down the stairs file five boys. An old teacher
(DR. HAGER) comes to the door and calls out five names.
Overstreet, Perry, Dalton, Anderson,
These boys file up the staircase. As they do, a seated boy
(PITTS) leans to the boy next to him (STEVEN MEEKS). Meeks
has sweet egghead looks and very short hair. He wears a pocket
watch and chain.
Who's the new boy?
Old Hager sees this conversation.
Misters Pitts and Meeks. Demerits.
Pitts and Meeks look down. Pitts glances at Meeks and rolls
That's another demerit, Mr. Pitts.
Pitts' smile vanishes. Hager closes the door.
INT. THE HEADMASTER'S OFFICE - SAME
The five boys take seats in a row of chairs facing Mr. Nolan.
Nolan sits behind his desk, a HUNTING DOG on the floor beside
Welcome back, Mr. Dalton. How's your
Doing fine, sir.
Your family move into that new house,
Yes sir, about a month ago.
Wonderful. I hear It's beautiful.
(he gives the dog a
Mr. Anderson, since you're new here,
let me explain that at Welton, I
assign extracurricular activities on
the basis of merit and desire. These
activities are taken every bit as
seriously as your class work... right,
CHARLIE, CAMERON, KNOX
Failure to attend required meetings
will result in demerits. Mr. Dalton
the school paper, the Service Club,
soccer, rowing. Mr. Overstreet Welton
Society Candidates, the school paper,
soccer, Sons of Alumni Club. Mr.
Perry Welton Society Candidates,
Chemistry Club, Mathematics Club,
school annual, soccer. Mr. Cameron
Welton Society Candidates, Debate
Club, rowing, Service Club, forensics,
Honor Council. Mr. Anderson based on
your record at Balincrest, soccer,
Service Club, school annual. Anything
else I don't know about?
Todd struggles. He looks like he is trying to speak but
nothing is coming out of his mouth.
Speak up, Mr. Anderson.
I would prefer rowing sir.
It is apparent that Todd's fear of speaking is overwhelming.
Nolan looks at him.
Rowing? Did he say rowing? It says
here you played soccer at Balincrest.
(again barely audible)
I... did... but...
Sweat breaks out on Todd's brow. He clinches his hands,
turning his knuckles white. He looks like he is going to
burst into tears. The other boys look at him.
You'll like soccer here, Anderson.
The boys stand and exit. Todd looks absolutely miserable.
The teacher at the door calls out more names.
EXT. WELTON CAMPUS - DAY
The Welton students walk toward their dorms. Neil Perry
approaches Todd Anderson who walks alone. Neil offers his
I hear we're going to be roommates.
Todd keeps walking. There is an awkward silence.
Why'd you leave Balincrest?
My brother went here.
Oh, so you're that Anderson.
INT. THE JUNIOR DORM LOBBY - CONTINUOUS
Neil and Todd have walked into the dorm lobby.
My parents wanted me here all along
but my grades weren't good enough.
I had to go to Balincrest to pull
Well, you've won the booby prize.
Don't expect to like it here.
INT. THE WELTON JUNIOR CLASS DORMITORY ROOM - DAY
Each small room contains two single beds, two closets, and
two desks. Suitcases sit on the floor. Neil enters. Richard
Cameron sticks in his head.
Heard you got the new boy. He's a
hell of a speaker, huh? Oops.
Todd Anderson walks in. Cameron ducks out. Todd has heard
Cameron's comment, but he ignores it. He puts his suitcase
on his bed and begins unpacking.
Don't mind Cameron. He's an asshole.
There is a knock on the door. Knox Overstreet, Charlie Dalton,
and Steven Meeks enter. Charlie speaks to Neil.
Hey, I heard you went to summer
Yeah, chemistry. My father thought I
should get ahead.
Well, Meeks aced Latin and I didn't
quite flunk English so if you want,
we've got our study group.
Sure, but Cameron asked me too.
Anybody mind including him?
What's his specialty, brown-nosing?
Hey, he's your roommate.
That's not my fault.
Nobody is excited about Cameron but no one objects.
I don't think we've met. I'm Steven
(shyly extending his
Knox and Charlie offer Todd handshakes.
Todd shakes their hands.
Todd's brother is Jeffrey Anderson.
Oh yeah. Sure. Valedictorian, National
Todd nods affirmative.
Well, welcome to "Hell"ton.
It's every bit as hard as they say.
Unless you're a genius like Meeks.
He flatters me so I'll help him with
And English, and trig.
Meeks smiles. There is a knock on the door.
Neil's father enters. Neil is surprised.
Father. I thought you'd... gone.
All the boys stand.
MEEKS, CHARLIE, KNOX
Keep your seats, boys. How's it going?
Fine, sir. Thank you.
Neil, I've decided that you're taking
too many extracurricular activities.
I've spoken to Mr. Nolan about it
and you can work on the school annual
But father, I'm assistant editor.
I'm sorry, Neil.
But father, it's not fair.
Fellows, would you excuse us a minute?
Mr. Perry walks into the hall, Neil follows.
INT. THE JUNIOR DORMITORY HALLWAY - SAME
I will not be disputed in public, do
you understand me?
Father, I wasn't disputing you.
When you've finished medical school
and you're on your own, you can do
as you please. Until then, you will
listen to me.
Yes sir. I'm sorry.
You know what this means to your
mother, don't you?
Using the pressures of guilt and punishment, Mr. Perry is
the most subtle of bullies. Neil's resolve crumbles in front
of his authoritarian father. Neil fills the pause.
You know me, always taking on too
Good boy. Call us if you need
He turns and walks off.
INT. NEIL'S ROOM
The others wait in silence. A chastened Neil enters.
Why doesn't he let you do what you
Yeah! Tell him off! It couldn't get
Oh that's rich. Like you tell your
parents off, Mr. Future Lawyer and
Mr. Future Banker!
Neil takes the school annual achievement pin off his shirt
and hurls it at his desk.
Wait a minute. I don't let my parents
walk on me.
Yeah, you just do everything they
say! You'll be in daddy's law firm
as sure as I'm standing here.
And you'll be approving loans till
Okay, so I don't like it any more
than you do. I'm just saying
Then don't tell me how to talk to my
father when you're the same way.
All right. Jesus, what are you gonna
What I have to do. Screw the annual.
I certainly wouldn't lose any sleep
over it. It's just a bunch of people
trying to impress Nolan.
Screw it all. I don't give a damn
about any of it.
He slams his hand into his pillow and lies back silently.
Everyone is quiet, sensing Neil's disappointment. Finally,
Charlie breaks the silence.
I don't know about anyone else, but
I could use a refresher in Latin.
Eight o'clock in my room?
You're welcome to join us, Todd.
Yeah, come along.
The boys leave. Neil lies in silence. He sees the achievement
pin that he threw and picks it up. Todd continues to unpack.
He unpacks a photo of his mother and father with their arms
around an older boy who is obviously Todd's brother Jeffrey.
Todd stands to one side, slightly apart from the family group.
Todd unpacks an engraved leather desk set (pens, blotter,
etc.) and puts it on his desk.
So what do you think of my father?
(softly, to himself)
I'll take him over mine.
Todd, if you're gonna make it around
here, you've gotta speak up. The
meek might inherit the earth but
they don't get into Harvard. Know
what I mean?
The goddamn bastard!
He presses the metal point of the pin into his thumb, drawing
blood. Todd winces. Neil doesn't. Neil hurls the pin again.
INT. A CHEMISTRY CLASSROOM - DAY
The classroom is a laboratory: filled with flasks, etc.
Neil, Todd, Knox, Charlie, Cameron, Meeks and other members
of the junior class sit around the room. A bespectacled
teacher stands in front, passing out thick textbooks.
In addition to the assignments in
the text, you will each pick three
lab experiments from the project
list and report on one every five
weeks. The first twenty problems at
the end of chapter one are due:
ANGLE ON CHARLIE DALTON as the thick textbooks arrive at his
desk. He shoots a disbelieving glance at Knox Overstreet who
can only acknowledge with a shake of his head. Todd takes
his books without reacting.
INT. LATIN CLASS - DAY
The same students sit before a Latin teacher in his early
60's. He declines a Latin noun with a thick Scottish brogue.
LATIN TEACHER (MCALLISTER)
Agricola, agricolae, agricolas,
Agricolas, agricolatis, agricolatus.
ANGLE FAVORING TODD, NEIL, KNOX AND THE OTHERS as they
struggle to follow along with McAllister's lesson.
INT. A MATHEMATICS CLASS - DAY
Mathematical charts hang on the walls. The elderly bald
teacher (the one from Nolan's doorway), Dr. Hager, passes
out books. The students' work load is huge.
Your study of trigonometry requires
absolute precision. Anyone failing
to turn in any homework assignment
will be penalized one point off his
final grade. Let me urge you now not
to test me on this point. Who would
like to begin by defining a cosine?
Richard Cameron stands.
A cosine is the sin of the compliment
of an angle or arc. If we define an
angle A, then...
INT. ENGLISH CLASSROOM - DAY
The junior students--Todd, Neil, Knox, Charlie, Cameron,
Meeks and some of the others we've seen--enter. They are
loaded down with books and look weary. Sitting in the front
of the room, staring out the window is JOHN KEATING, the
teacher we glimpsed earlier. He wears a collared shirt, tie,
The boys take seats and settle in. Keating stares out the
window a long time. The students start to shuffle
uncomfortably. Finally Keating stands, picks up a yardstick,
and begins slowly strolling the aisles. He stops and stares
into the face of one of the boys.
(to the blushing boy)
Don't be embarrassed.
He moves off, then stops in front of Charlie Dalton.
(as if discovering
something known only
(he moves to Todd
(he moves to Neil
Keating slaps his free hand with the yardstick, then strides
to the front of the room.
Nimble young minds!
He steps up onto the desk, turns and faces the class.
Oh Captain, My Captain. Who knows
where that's from?
No one raises a hand.
It was written by a poet named Walt
Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln.
In this class you may refer to me as
either Mr. Keating, or Oh Captain,
Keating steps down and starts strolling the aisles.
So that I become the source of as
few rumors as possible, let me tell
you that yes, I was a student at
this institution many moons ago, and
no, at that time I did not possess
this charismatic personality. However,
should you choose to emulate my
manner, it can only help your grade.
Pick up a textbook from the back,
gentlemen, and let's retire to the
He steps off the desk and walks out. The students sit, not
sure what to do, then realize they are to follow him. They
quickly gather their books, pick up texts, and follow.
INT. THE WELTON OAK PANELED HONOR ROOM - DAY
This is the room where the boys waited earlier. The walls
are lined with class pictures: dating back into the 1800s.
School trophies of every description fill trophy cases and
shelves. Keating leads the students in, then faces the class.
(Keating looks at his
Pitts. An unfortunate name. Stand
up, Mister Pitts.
Open your text, Pitts, to page forty
and read for us the first stanza of
Pitts looks through his book. He finds the poem.
To The Virgins to Make Much Of Time?
That's the one.
Giggles in the class. Pitts reads.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
Old time is still a flying
And this same flower that smiles
Tomorrow will be dying.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.
The Latin term for that sentiment is
"Carpe Diem." Anyone know what that
Carpe Diem... seize the day.
Very good, Mr.?
Seize the day while you're young,
see that you make use of your time.
Why does the poet write these lines?
Because he's in a hurry?
Because we're food for worms, lads!
Because we're only going to experience
a limited number of springs, summers,
and falls. One day, hard as it is to
believe, each and every one of us is
going to stop breathing, turn cold,
and die! Stand up and peruse the
faces of the boys who attended this
school sixty or seventy years ago.
Don't be timid, go look at them.
The boys get up. Todd, Neil, Knox, Meeks, etc. go over to
the class pictures that line the honor room walls.
ANGLES ON VARIOUS PICTURES ON THE WALLS. Faces of young men
stare at us from out of the past.
They're not that different than any
of you, are they? There's hope in
their eyes, just like in yours. They
believe themselves destined for
wonderful things, just like many of
you. Well, where are those smiles
now, boys? What of that hope?
THE BOYS are staring at the pictures, sobered by what Keating
Did most of them not wait until it
was too late before making their
lives into even one iota of what
they were capable? In chasing the
almighty deity of success did they
not squander their boyhood dreams?
Most of those gentlemen are
fertilizing daffodils! However, if
you get very close, boys, you can
hear them whisper. Go ahead, lean
in. Hear it?
'Carpe Diem, lads. Seize the day.
Make your lives extraordinary.
Todd, Neil, Knox, Charlie, Cameron, Meeks, Pitts all stare
into the pictures on the wall. All are lost in thought.
EXT. THE WELTON CAMPUS - DAY
The class files out of the honor room. Todd, Neil, Knox,
Charlie, Cameron, Necks, and Pitts walk together, books in
hand. All thinking about what just happened in class.
Spooky if you ask me.
You think he'll test us on that stuff?
Oh come on, Cameron, don't you get
EXT. THE WELTON CAMPUS - CONTINUOUS
How about a trig study group? Right
Good by me. Sure. Great.
I can't make it. I got a sign-out to
have dinner at the Danburrys' house.
Who are the Danburrys?
Big alum. How'd you pull that?
They're friends of my dad. Probably
in their nineties or something.
Listen, anything's better than mystery
I'll second that.
The group disperses. Neil finds himself walking near Todd
who has been silent through this whole discussion.
Want to come to the study group?
Thanks but I'd better do history.
INT. TODD AND NEIL'S DORM ROOM - LATE AFTERNOON
Todd enters alone. He puts down his books and sits at his
desk. Flipping through the stack of books in front of him,
he sighs at the work load that is piling up.
Todd takes out his notebook and opens his history book. He
stares at his notebook for a moment, then writes "SEIZE THE
DAY" in big letters. He looks at the words that he's written,
sighs, tears the page off, then plunges into his homework.
EXT. THE WELTON CAMPUS - DUSK - WIDE SHOT
The autumnal colors are muted by the onset of nightfall.
Old Dr. Hager drives the school "woody" station wagon out of
EXT. WALTON VILLAGE (NEW CASTLE) - DUSK - WOODY DRIVE-BY
EXT./INT. A LARGE MANSION - DUSK
Knox Overstreet gets out of the woody. Dr. Hager pulls away.
Knox walks to the door of the home and is admitted by a maid.
Knox is amazed by this palatial home.
INT. THE DANBURRY MANSION LIBRARY - DUSK
JOE DANBURRY is a sharp looking man of about 40, well dressed,
friendly. His wife, an attractive blonde about the same age,
sits beside him.
Knox, come in. Joe Danburry. This is
my wife, Janette.
Nice to meet you.
You're the spitting image of your
father. How is he?
Great. Just did a big case for GM.
Ah. I know where you're headed.
Like father like son, eh?
(looking off screen)
Ginny. Come meet Knox.
GINNY DANBURRY--15, cute, shy, a shock of misplaced hair--
Knox, this is our daughter, Virginia.
Knox shakes her hand. His "hello" is polite. Her "hi" is
CHET DANBURRY--a tall jock of a guy a couple of years older
than Knox--enters. With him is a lovely teenage brunette,
CHRIS NOEL, in a short tennis dress. Soft glowing eyes,
athletic figure, this girl is stunning.
Dad, can I take the Buick?
What's wrong with your car?
Chet, where are your manners? Knox,
this is my son Chet and his girlfriend
Chris Noel. This is Knox Overstreet.
Excuse me while I check on dinner.
Knox shakes Chet's hand. Knox is THUNDERSTRUCK by Chris.
Chris offers Knox her hand and a smile. Knox shakes her hand,
his mouth practically hanging open.
Pleased to meet you.
The pleasure is mine.
Come on, Dad, why is this always a
Because I bought you a sports car
and suddenly you want my car all the
Chris' mom feels safer when we're in
a bigger car. Right, Chris?
Chet shoots her a wicked smile. Chris blushes.
It's all right, Chet.
It's not all right. Come on, Dad
Joe Danburry walks out of the room. Chet follows him.
Come on, Dad.
Knox, Ginny, and Chris remain in the room. Knox smiles at
So, uh, where are you in school?
Ridgeway High. How's Henley Hall,
That's your sister school, right?
You going out for the Henley Hall
They're doing "A Midsummer Night's
How did you meet Chet?
(both girls look at
I mean... Er...
He plays on the Ridgeway football
team and I'm a cheerleader. He used
to go to Welton but he flunked out.
You should do it, Gin. You'd be great.
Ginny looks down, shyly. Chet comes to the door.
Chris. We got it. Let's go.
Nice meeting you, Knox. Bye, Gin.
Nice meeting you Chris.
Chris and Chet exit. Through the window, we see Chet and
Chris walk out and put their arms around each other.
(confiding to Knox)
Chet just wants the Buick so they
can go parking.
Outside, Chris and Chet get in the Buick and kiss. Knox stares
EXT. DANBURRY HOUSE - DUSK
Chet and Chris drive off.
INT. THE JUNIOR CLASS LOUNGE - NIGHT
The dorm is quiet. Neil, Cameron, Weeks, Charlie and Pitts
are gathered studying math. As they do, Pitts works to
assemble a small crystal radio. Todd is in his room, studying
alone. Knox, looking shell-shocked, shuffles into the lobby.
How was dinner?
Terrible. Awful! I met the most
beautiful girl I've ever seen in my
Are you crazy? What's wrong with
She's practically engaged to Chet
Danburry. Mr. Mondo Jocko himself.
It's not too bad. It's a tragedy!
Why does she have to be in love with
All the good ones go for jerks, you
know that. Forget her. Take out your
trig book and figure out problem
I can't just forget her, Pitts. And
I certainly can't think about math!
Sure you can. You're off on a tangent--
so you're halfway into trig already
I thought it was clever.
You really think I should forget
You have another choice.
Knox drops to his knee like he is proposing.
Only you, Pittsie.
Pitts pushes Knox away. Knox sits back down but despair is
beginning to wash over him.
EXT. WELTON CAMPUS - MORNING
The Welton bagpiper marches on the lawn, practicing. Students
emerge from their dorms and head to breakfast.
INT. KEATING'S ENGLISH CLASS - DAY
The lights are out and shades are drawn. Keating sits in a
chair beside the teacher's desk. He looks solemn. All is
(soft and soothing
Boys, quietly open your texts to
The boys follow instructions. Keating reads the following in
a tone of quiet reverence.
Little Boy Blue, by Eugene Field:
The little toy dog is covered with
dust, But sturdy and staunch he
stands. And the little toy soldier
is red with rust, And his musket
moulds in his hands; Time was when
the little toy dog was new, And the
soldier was passing fair; And that
was the time when our Little Boy
Blue, Kissed them and put them there.
'Now don't you go till I come,' he
said, 'And don't you make any noise!'
So toddling off to his trundle bed
He dreampt of pretty toys; And as he
was dreaming, an angel song, Awakened
our Little Boy Blue--Oh the years
are many, the years are long, But
the little toy friends are true.
Ay, faithful to Little Boy Blue they
stand, Each in the same old place--
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face. And they
wonder, as waiting the long years
thru, In the dust of that little
chair, What has become of our Little
Boy Blue, Since he kissed them and
put them there.
Keating is a masterful reader. With his marvelous voice, he
has milked this sentimental poem for everything it is worth.
Many of the boys are on the verge of tears. Suddenly Keating
The students jump halfway out of their seats.
Treacle! Mawkish treacle! Rip it out
of your books. Rip out the entire
page! I want this sentimental rubbish
in the trash where it belongs!
He marches down the aisles with the trash can and waits for
each boy to deposit the page from his textbook. The boys,
having been led down the sentimental path, cannot help but
laugh at this sudden change of mood.
Make a clean tear. I want nothing
left of it! Eugene Field! Disgraceful.
INT. MCALLISTER'S CLASSROOM - DAY
Mr. McAllister, the Scottish Latin teacher, exits his room
and walks across the hall to Keating's classroom. He peeks
in the door window and sees boys ripping pages out of their
books. Alarmed, McAllister opens the door and enters Keating's
INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - SAME
McAllister is about to reprimand the boys when suddenly he
What the... Sorry, I didn't think
you were in here, Mr. Keating.
Baffled and embarrassed, McAllister exits. Keating strides
back to the front of the room, flips the trash can on the
floor, and jumps into it. He stomps the trash a few times,
then kicks the can away.
This is battle, boys. War! You are
souls at a critical juncture. Either
you will succumb to the will of hoi
polloi and the fruit will die on the
vine--or you will triumph as
individuals. It may be a coincidence
that part of my duties are to teach
you about Romanticism, but let me
assure you that I take the task quite
seriously. You will learn what this
school wants you to learn in my class,
but if I do my job properly, you
will also learn a great deal more.
You will learn to savor language and
words because they are the stepping
stones to everything you might
endeavor to do in life and do well.
A moment ago I used the term 'hoi
polloi.' Who knows what it means?
Come on, Overstreet, you twirp.
Anderson, are you a man or a boil?
More laughter. All eyes are on Todd. He visibly tenses all
over. He cannot bring himself to speak. He shakes his head
jerkily "no." Meeks raises his hands and speaks:
The hoi polloi. Doesn't it mean the
Precisely, Meeks. Greek for the herd.
However, be warned that, when you
say "the hoi polloi" you are actually
saying the the herd. Indicating that
you too are "hoi polloi."
Keating grins wryly. Meeks smiles. More chuckles. Keating
paces to the back of the room.
Now, many will argue that nineteenth--
century literature has nothing to do
with business school or medical
school. They think we should I read
our Field and Pipple, learn our rhyme
and meter, and quietly go about it
our business of achieving other
He slams his hand on the wall behind him. The wall booms
like a drum. The boys jump and turn around.
Well, I say drivel! One reads poetry
because he is a member of the human
race and the human race is filled
with passion! Medicine, Law, Banking-
these are necessary to sustain life-
but poetry, romance, love, beauty!
These are what we stay alive for. I
read from Whitman. "Oh me, Oh life
of the questions of these recurring.
Of the endless trains of the faithless
of cities filled with the foolish...
skipping... 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."
Keating pauses. The class sits, taking this in.
"That the powerful play goes on, and
you may contribute a verse."
Poetry is rapture, lads. Without it
we are doomed.
Keating waits a long moment.
What will your verse be?
CLOSE ON the faces of NEIL, KNOX, CHARLIE, MEEKS, CHAMERON,
PITTS, and TODD as they contemplate this question. Softly,
Keating breaks the mood:
Let's open our textbooks to page
sixty and learn about Wordsworth
notion of romanticism...
INT. THE WELTON DINING ROOM - DAY
On the dais in the front of the room is the teacher's dining
table. Below them are the students' tables. Mr. McAllister
sits to Keating's right.
Quite an interesting class you had
today, Mr. Keating.
Sorry if I shocked you.
No need to apologize. It was quite
fascinating, misguided though it
You heard it all?
You're hardly a Trappist monk.
McAllister smiles. So does Keating.
You take a big risk encouraging them
to be artists, John. When they realize
they're not Rembrants or Shakespeares
or Picassos, they'll hate you for
Not artists, George, free thinkers.
And I hardly pegged you as a cynic.
A cynic? A realist! Show me the heart
unfettered by foolish dreams and
I'll show you a happy man.
He chews a bite.
But I will enjoy listening to your
Keating grins with amusement.
ANOTHER ANGLE - THE DINNING ROOM - SAME
Todd, Knox, Charlie, Cameron, Pitts, and Meeks sit at a table
eating. Neil enters and joins them.
I found his senior annual in the
Neil opens the annual and reads.
Captain of the soccer team, editor
of the annual, Cambridge bound, Man
most likely to do anything, Thigh
man, Dead Poets Society.
Hands grab the old annual away from Neil.
Thigh man? Mr. "K" was a hell raiser.
What is the Dead Poets Society?
Any group pictures in the annual?
Nothing. No mention of it.
Mr. Nolan approaches the boys' table. Under the table, Cameron
insistently hands the annual to Todd. Todd looks at Cameron,
then takes it.
Enjoying your classes, Mr. Perry?
Yes sir. Very much.
And our Mr. Keating. Finding him
Yes sir. We were just talking about
Good. We're very excited about him.
He was a Rhodes Scholar, you know.
Nolan exits. Todd looks at the annual that he hides in his
lap under the table, then continues eating.
EXT. THE CAMPUS - LATER
Keating walks across the school lawn wearing his sport coat
and a scarf, carrying his books. Pitts, Neil, Cameron, Knox,
Charlie, Meeks and Todd approach him.
Mr. Keating? Sir? Oh Captain My
What was the Dead Poets Society?
Ah, so you boy's have been snooping.
I was just looking in an old annual
Nothing wrong with research.
The boys wait for more.
But what was it?
Keating checks around to be sure they are unwatched.
The Dead Poets was a secret
organization. I don't know how the
present administration would look
upon it but I doubt the reaction
would be favorable. Can you keep a
An instant sea of nods.
The Dead Poets Society was dedicating
to sucking the marrow out of life.
That phrase is by Thoreau and was
invoked at every meeting. A small
group of us would meet at a cave and
there we would take turns reading
Shelley, Thoreau, Whitman, our own
verse--any number of poets--and, in
the enchantment of the moment, let
them work their magic on us.
You mean it was a bunch of guys
sitting around reading poetry?
Both sexes participated, Mr.
Overstreet. And, believe me, we did
not simply read, we let it drip from
our tongues like honey. Women swooned,
spirits soared... Gods were created,
The boys think a minute.
What did the name mean. Did you only
read dead poets.
All poetry was acceptable. The name
simply referred to the fact, that to
join the organization, you had to be
Full membership required a lifetime
of apprenticeship. The living were
simply pledges. Alas, even I am still
a lowly initiate.
The boys don't quite know what to say.
The last meeting must have been 25
years ago. Hasn't been another since.
Keating exits. The boys stand watching. Neil turns to them.
I say we go tonight. Everybody in?
Where is this cave he's talking about?
Beyond the stream. I think I know.
Sounds boring to me.
You know how many demerits we're
So don't goddam come! Please.
All I'm saying is we have to be
careful. We can't get caught.
Well, no shit, Sherlock
Neil looks at Knox, Pitts, and Weeks.
Oh come on, Pitts...
His grades are hurting, Charlie.
Then you can help him.
What is this, a midnight study group?
Forget it, Pitts, you're coming.
Meeks, your grades hurting too?
All right. I'll try anything once.
More laughter. Meeks blushes.
I'm in as long as we're careful.
I don't know. I don't get it.
Come on. It'll help you get Chris.
It will? How do you figure?
The group walk off. Knox holds, then follows,
Why do they swoon?! Charlie, tell me
why they swoon!
Knox moves off after the others. Todd remains behind. No one
asked Todd and he moves off by himself.
INT. THE STUDY HALL - LATE AFTERNOON
Students study. Neil sits near Todd.
Listen, I'm inviting you. You can't
expect everybody to think of you all
the time. Nobody knows you.
Thanks but it's not a question of
What is it then?
I... I just don't want to come.
But why? Don't you understand what
Keating is saying? Don't you want to
do something about it?
But what? Goddamn it, tell me.
I don't want to read.
Keating said everybody took turns
reading. I don't want to do it.
God, you really have a problem, don't
you? How can it hurt you to read? I
mean isn't that what this is all
about? Expressing yourself?
INT. THE DORM - LATE NIGHT
Old Dr. Hager, the resident dorm marshal, putters in his
room, door ajar, making tea. Neil, Charlie, Knox, Meeks,
Pitts, Cameron, and Todd sneak silently past his door and
EXT. THE WELTON CAMPUS - NIGHT
The school hunting dog comes up and growls at the boys. Pitts
slips the dog a piece of food and it goes away.
EXT. THE SCHOOL GROUNDS - NIGHT
The stars are out and the wind is blowing. A SERIES of SHOTS
show the boys crossing the campus. They reach a stone wall
with an old iron gate that is chained shut. The boys squeeze
through the gate and disappear into the woods beyond.
EXT. THE WELTON WOODS AND STREAM - NIGHT
The boys make their way through the eerie forest searching
for the cave. They reach the bank of the stream and begin
looking for an appropriate spot amongst the tree roots and
erosion. Charlie suddenly looms out of the cave entrance.
Yaa, I'm a dead poet!
Eat it, Dalton!
This is it.
SHORT DISSOLVE TO:
INT. THE CAVE - A BIT LATER
A newly lit fire comes to life The boys huddle around the
I hereby reconvene the Welton Chapter
of the Dead Poets Society. These
meetings will be conducted by myself
and by the rest of the new initiates
now present. Todd Anderson, because
he prefers not to read, will keep
minutes of the meetings.
Todd is unhappy with this role but he tries not to show it.
I will now read the traditional
opening message from society member
Henry David Thoreau.
Neil opens Keating's copy of Thoreau's Walden, and reads.
"I went to the woods because I wanted
to live deliberately."
(skips thru the text)
"I wanted to live deep and suck out
all the marrow of life!"
All right. I'll second that.
"To put the rout all that was not
(skips thru the text)
"And not, when I came to die, discover
that I had not lived." Pledge
Knox steps up. Neil hands him Walden. Knox flips thru the
book until he finds another underlined passage. He reads.
"The millions are awake enough for
Physical labor; but only one in a
million is awake enough for effective
intellectual exertion, only one in a
hundred millions to a poetic or divine
life. To be awake is to be alive."
Hey, this is great.
Knox hands the book to Cameron. Cameron reads.
"If one advances confidently in the
direction of his dreams and endeavors
to live the life which he has
imagined, he will meet with a success
unexpected in common hours."
Yes! I want success with Chris!
Cameron hands the book to Todd. Todd holds the book, frozen.
Before the others notice Todd's fear, Neil takes the book
from Todd and hands it to Meeks.
"If you have built castles in the
air, your work need not be lost.
That is where they should be. Now
put foundations under them."
God, I want to do everything! I'm
going to explode.
Neil looks imbued with the desire to break out of his mold.
He slams the palms of his hands together with an expression
of determination. Charlie opens a book he brought and flips
Listen to this: "Out of the night
that covers me, Black as the Pit
from pole to pole, I thank whatever
gods may be for my unconquerable
PULL BACK from this small band of boys standing huddled in
the night. Something is swirling their heads, something alive
and exciting like the wind and the swaying trees that surround
them. Charlie raises his hands in the air.
I here and now commit myself to
INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY
So avoid using the word 'very' because
it's lazy. A man is not very tired,
he is exhausted. Don't use very sad,
use morose. Language was invented
for one reason, boys--to woo women--
and, in that endeavor, laziness will
not do. It also won't do in your
The class laughs appreciatively. Keating closes his book,
then walks over and raises a map that covers the blackboard
in the front of the room. On the board is a quote, which
Keating reads aloud:
"Creeds and schools in abeyance. I
permit to speak at every hazard,
Nature without check, with original
energy." -- Walt Whitman. Ah, but
the difficulty of ignoring those
creeds and schools, conditioned as
we are by our parents, our traditions,
by the modern age. How do we, like
Whitman, permit our own true natures
to speak? How do we strip ourselves
of prejudices, habits, influences?
The answer, my dear lads, is that we
must constantly endeavor to find a
new point of view.
He leaps onto his desk.
Why do I stand here? To feel taller
than you? I stand on my desk to remind
myself that we must constantly force
ourselves to look at things
differently. The world looks different
from up here. If you don't believe
it, stand up here and try it. All of
you. Take turns.
Keating jumps off. The boys, with the notable exception of
Todd, go to the front of the room and a few at a time take
turns standing on Keating's desk. As they do, Keating strolls
up and down the aisles.
Try never to think about anything
the same way twice. If you're sure
about something, force yourself to
think about it another way, even if
you know it's wrong or silly. When
you read, don't consider only what
the author thinks, but take the time
to consider what you think. You must
strive to find your own voice, boys,
and 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." I ask,
why be resigned to that? Risk walking
new ground. Now. A flame in your
hearts could change the world, lads.
Keating goes to the door. He looks at the class, then flashes
the room lights on and off over and over. He makes a noise
like crashing thunder.
In addition to your essays, I want
you each to write a poem--something
your own to be delivered aloud in
class. See you Monday.
He exits. Momentarily, he pops his head back in.
And don't think I don't know this
assignment scares you to death, Mr.
Anderson, you mole.
Keating holds out his hands and pretends he is sending
lightning bolts at Todd. The class laughs. Todd forces a
hint of a smile.
INT./EXT. WELTON CAMPUS, AFTERNOON - VARIOUS LOCATIONS
Pitts and Meeks climb up the inside of the bell tower that
sits atop the Welton Chapel. They affix Pitts' crystal radio
antenna to the chapel cross. Momentarily, they tune in a
fuzzy rock 'n roll station.
Radio Free America.
They try to tune in the music but it soon dissolves into
static. They jiggle the radio in frustration.
Some of the Welton students run on the green, kicking soccer
Down at the lake, the Welton crew team is practicing. Mr.
Nolan sits in a rowboat, smoking a pipe, watching.
Knox rides down a wooded lane on his bike. He comes to
RIDGEWAY HIGH SCHOOL. Beyond a fence, uniformed boys practice
football. Not far from them, cheerleaders practice. Knox
stops. He sees:
Among the cheerleaders is Chris. She laughs as she practices
the cheers with the other girls. Knox watches her with intense
longing in his eyes.
Chet Danburry catches a pass in front of Chris, struts for
her amusement, then moves on. Chris laughs.
Knox gets back on his bike and pedals away
INT. TODD AND NEIL'S ROOM - AFTERNOON
Todd sits at his bed, a pad of paper beside him. He starts
to write something, scratches it out, then covers his face
in frustration. The door opens. Neil enters, looking like
he's just seen God. He lets his books fall to his desk.
I've found it.
What I want to do! Right now. What
is really inside of me.
He hands Todd a piece of paper. Todd reads it.
A Midsummer Night's Dream. What is
A play, dummy.
I know that. What's it got to do
They're putting it on at Henley Hall.
See, open try-outs.
So I'm gonna act! Ever since I can
remember I've wanted to try it. Last
summer I even tried to go to summer
stock auditions but of course my
father wouldn't let me.
And now he will?
Hell no, but that's not the point.
The point is for the first time in
my whole goddamned life, I know what
I want, and for the first time I'm
gonna do it whether my father wants
me to or not! Carpe diem, goddamn
Neil picks up the play and reads a coupe of lines aloud.
They delight him. He clenches his fists in the air with joy.
Neil, how are you gonna be in a play
if your father won't let you?
First I gotta get the part, then
I'll worry about that.
Won't he kill you if you don't let
him know you're auditioning?
As far as I'm concerned, he won't
have to know about any of it.
Come on, that's impossible.
Horseshit. Nothing's impossible.
Why don't you ask him first? Maybe
he'll say yes.
That's a laugh. If I don't ask, at
least I won't be disobeying him.
But if he said no before then...
Jesus Christ, whose side are you on?
I haven't even gotten the part yet.
Can't I enjoy the idea even for a
Todd turns back to his work. Neil sits on the bed and starts
reading the play.
By the way, there's a meeting this
afternoon. You coming?
Neil puts down his play and looks at Todd.
None of what Mr. Keating has to say
means shit to you, does it?
What is that supposed to mean?
Being in the club means being stirred
up by things. You look about as
stirred up as a cesspool.
You want me out... is that what you're
No, I want you in. But being in means
you gotta do something. Not just say
Listen Neil, I appreciate your
interest in me but I'm not like you.
When you say things, people pay
attention. People follow you. I'm
not like that.
Why not? Don't you think you could
No! I don't know, I'll probably never
know. The point is, there's nothing
you can do about it so butt out, all
right? I can take care of myself
just fine. All right?
No? What do you mean 'no'?
Neil opens his play. Todd waits for Neil to relent. He
EXT. CAVE - AFTERNOON
The boys enter the cave.
INT. THE CAVE - AFTERNOON
It is a clear, crisp fall afternoon. Charlie, Knox, Todd,
Necks, Neil, Cameron, and Pitts sit around. Neil recites
"I went to the woods because I wished
to live deliberately. I wanted to
live deep and suck out all the marrow
God, I want to suck all the marrow
out of Chris. I'm so in love, I feel
like I'm going to die!
You know what the dead poets would
say: Gather ye rosebuds while ye
But she's in love with the moron son
of my father's best friend. What
would the dead poets say about that?
Knox walks away from the group. Despair is washing over him.
I feel like I've never been alive.
For years I've been risking nothing.
I have no idea what I am or what I
want to do! Neil, you know you want
to act. Knox wants Chris.
Needs Chris! Must have Chris!
Meeks, you're the brain here. What
do the dead poets say about somebody
The romantics were passionate
experimenters, Charles. They dabbled
in many things before settling, if
There aren't too many places to be
an experimenter at Welton, Meeks.
Charlie paces a moment, then gets an idea. He addresses the
I hereby declare this the Charles
Dalton Cave for Passionate
Experimentation. In the future, anyone
wishing entry must have permission
Wait a minute, Charlie. This should
belong to the club.
It should, but I found it and now I
claim it. Carpe cavern, guys. Seize
Charlie grins. The boys look at each other and shake their
heads. Neil heads out.
I gotta get to the tryouts. Wish me
Neil exits. Charlie finds a rock and begins carving his name
on a wall of the cave. Pitts shakes his head.
EXT. SOCCER FIELD - AFTERNOON
Gusts of wind blow across the field. About 50 boys stand in
their sweats, moving around, trying to keep warm. Among them
are Todd, Charlie, Pitts, and Knox who is in a state of
lovesick despair. Keating walks up, carrying same soccer
balls under one arm and a case under the other.
Say, look who's the soccer instructor.
Here here, there are quite a few of
us so we have to be quiet if we're
to get anything accomplished. Who
has the roll?
I do, sir.
Keating takes the three-page roll
and examines it.
Answer "present." please. Chapman?
Keating glances at Todd. Todd doesn't know what to say.
Richard Watson? Absent too, eh?
Watson's sick, sir.
Hmm. Sick indeed. I suppose I should
give Watson demerits. But if I give
Watson demerits, I will also have to
give Perry demerits and I like Perry.
He crumples the roll up and tosses it away.
Boys, you don't have to be here if
you don't want to. Anyone who wants
to play, follow me.
Keating marches off. Astonished and delighted by this
capriciousness, most of the boys excitedly follow.
NEW ANGLE - FAR SOCCER FIELD - LATER
Most of the boys from earlier sit on the ground. Keating
stands before them.
Devotees may argue that one game or
sport is inherently better than
another. For me the most important
thing in all sport is the way other
human beings can push us to excel.
Plato, a gifted man like myself,
said, "Only the contest made me a
poet, a sophist, an orator." Each
person take a slip of paper and line
up single file.
He passes out slips of paper to the curious students.
EXT. THE SOCCER FIELD - LATER
The boys form a long line. Todd stands listlessly at the
rear. Ten feet in front of the boy at the head of the line,
a soccer ball rests on the ground.
You know what to do... Now go!
McAllister walks past the soccer field. He watches in
fascination as the boy at the head of the line steps out and
reads loudly from his slip of paper.
Oh to struggle against great odds,
To meet enemies undaunted!
He runs and kicks the ball at the goal, missing. Keating
puts down another ball, then puts a record on a portable
record player. Classical music starts. The second boy, Knox,
Rhythm, boy! Rhythm is important.
SECOND BOY (KNOX)
To be entirely alone with them, to
find out how much one can stand!
Knox too runs and kicks the ball. Just before he smashes it
with his foot, he yells: "CHET!" Keating puts down another
THIRD BOY (MEEKS)
To look strife, torture, prison,
popular odium face to face!
Meeks runs and kicks the ball with great intent. Next, Charlie
steps out and reads.
To indeed be a God!
With determination, Charlie kicks the ball through the goal.
McAllister smiles and walks on.
INT. NEIL AND TODD'S ROOM - NIGHT
Todd sits at his desk, a half-composed poem before him. He
adds a line, then breaks the pencil in frustration. He paces,
sighs, then picks up another pencil and tries to again.
INT. THE DORM HALLWAY - SAME
Neil enters, looking stunned.
I got it. Hey, everybody, I got the
part! I'm going to play Puck. Hey,
VOICE FROM A ROOM
Puck you! Pipe down.
CHARLIE AND OTHERS
All right, Neil. Congratulations!
INT. NEIL AND TODD'S ROOM - NIGHT
Neil enters and closes the door. Incredibly excited, he pulls
out an old typewriter and begins to type. Todd watches.
Neil, how are you gonna do this?
Sssh. That's what I'm taking care
of. They need a letter of permission.
From my father and Nolan.
Neil, you're not gonna...
Quiet. I have to think.
Neil mumbles lines from the play, giggles to himself, then
keeps typing. Todd shakes his head in disbelief.
INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY
Knox stands before class reading the poem he wrote.
I see a sweetness in her smile Bright
light shines from her eyes But life
is complete: contentment mine Just
knowing that she--
Knox stops. He lowers his paper.
I'm sorry. It's stupid.
Knox walks back to his seat.
It's fine, Knox. Good effort.
(to the class)
What Knox has done demonstrates an
important point, not only in writing
poetry, but in every endeavor. That
is, deal with the important things
in life love, beauty, truth, justice.
And don't limit poetry to the word.
Poetry can be found in a work of
art, music, a photograph, in the way
a meal is prepared--anything with
the stuff of revelation in it. It
can exist in the most everyday things
but it must never, never be ordinary.
By all means, write about the sky or
a girl's smile but when you do, let
your poetry conjure up salvation
day, doomsday, any day, I don't care,
as long as it enlightens us, thrills
us and--if it's inspired--makes us
feel a bit immortal.
Oh, Captain, My Captain. Is there
poetry in math?
Chuckles from the class.
Absolutely, Mr. Dalton, there is
elegance in mathematics. If everyone
wrote poetry, the planet would starve,
for God's sake. But there must be
poetry--and we must stop to notice
it--in even the simplest acts of
living, or we will have wasted the
truly wonderful opportunity that
life as human beings offers us.
That said, who wants to recite next?
Come on. I'll get to everyone
Keating looks around. No one volunteers. Keating grins.
Look at Mr. Anderson. In such agony.
Step up, lad, and let's put you out
of your misery.
All eyes are on Todd. He is dying inside. He stands and walks
slowly to the front of the class like a condemned man on his
way to his execution.
Todd, have you prepared your poem?
Todd shakes his head no.
Mr. Anderson believes that everything
he has inside of him is worthless
and embarrassing. Correct, Todd?
Isn't that your fear?
Todd nods jerkedly yes.
Then today you will see that what is
inside of you is worth a great deal.
Keating strides to the blackboard. Rapidly, he writes:
"I SOUND MY BARBARIC YAWP OVER THE ROOFTOPS OF THE WORLD.--
A yawp, for those who don't know, is
a loud cry or yell. Todd, I would
like you to give us a demonstration
of a barbaric yawp.
A barbaric yawp.
Keating pauses, then suddenly moves fiercely at Todd.
Good god, boy! Yell!
All right! Very good! There's a
barbarian in there after all!
Keating claps. The class claps too. Todd, red-faced, swells
Todd, there's a picture of Whitman
over the door. What does he remind
you of? Quickly, Anderson, don't
think about it.
A madman. Perhaps he was. What kind
of madman? Don't think! Answer.
A crazy madman.
Use your imagination! First thing
that pops to your mind, even if it's
A... A sweaty-toothed madman.
Now there's the poet speaking! Close
your eyes and think of the picture.
Describe what you see. NOW!
I... I close my eyes. His image floats
A sweaty-toothed madman.
A sweaty-toothed madman with a stare
that pounds my brain.
Excellent! Have him act. Give it
His hands reach out and choke me All
the time he mumbles slowly. Truth...
Truth is like a blanket that always
leaves your feet cold.
This brings chuckles from the class. This angers Todd.
To hell with them, most about the
Todd opens his eyes and addresses the class in defiant
Stretch it, pull it, it will never
cover any of us. Kick at it, beat at
it, it will never be enough--
getting it out)
From the moment we enter crying to
the moment we leave dying. It will
cover just your head as you wail and
cry and scream!
Todd stands still for a long time. Both he and the students
have felt the magic or what has just taken place. Neil starts
applauding. Others join in. Todd swells and, for the first
time, there is a hint of confidence in him. The applause
stops. Keating walks to Todd.
Don't forget this.
EXT. THE SOCCER FIELD - DAY
A soccer ball careens off a kicking foot. Beethoven's Ninth
symphony, fourth movement, "Ode To Joy," blares forth. Keating
stands on the sidelines beside his portable record player,
watching the boys play soccer, waving his arms like an
orchestra conductor. In front of Keating the boys play soccer
to this spectacular music. They run, kick, pass, fall, block,
head, dribble, take--all to the overpowering chorus of one
of the most inspirational pieces of music ever written.
EXT DEAD POETS CAVE - AFTERNOON
Boys enter the cave.
INT. DEAD POETS CAVE - AFTERNOON
Neil hurries in carrying a small, broken statue. The other
pledges of the Dead Poets Society are assembled around Charlie
who sits silently cross-legged before them. His eyes are
closed and, in one hand, he holds an old saxophone.
Look at this.
What is it?
The god of the cave.
The statue has a stake sticking cut of its head with a candle
stuck in it. Neil plants the statue in ground and lights the
candle. It illuminates a red and blue drummer boy, face pitted
from exposure, yet noble in its visage. Charlie, who hasn't
moved, clears his throat. All turn to him and settle in.
Gentlemen, "Poetrusic" by Charles
He blows scattered notes on the saxophone. Random, blaring,
they sound like bad John Cage. Suddenly Charlie stops.
Laughing, crying, tumbling, mumbling,
gotta do more. Gotta be more.
He plays more notes on the sax, then:
(more rapid than before)
Chaos screaming, chaos dreaming,
crying, flying, gotta be more!!
Gotta be more!!
Charlie plays a simple but absolutely gorgeous melody. The
skeptical looks on the faces of the boys disappear. As Charlie
gets lost in the music, so do the others. The melody ends
with a long, beautiful, haunting note.
Charlie, That was great! Where did
you learn to play like that?
My parents made me take clarinet but
I hated it.
(putting on a mock
The sax is more sonorous.
Knox stands. He backs away, full of torment and frustration.
God, I can't take it anymore! If I
don't have Chris, I'll kill myself.
Knox, you gotta calm down.
No, I've been calm all my life! If I
don't do something, it's gonna kill
Where are you going?
I'm calling her!
INT. THE DORM PHONE ROOM - LATER
All of the boys stand around. Knox picks up the phone, boldly
dials some numbers, then waits.
INT. CHRIS' HOUSE - AFTERNOON
Chris is in wet hair and a damp towel, but she looks stunning.
She enters and answers the phone.
INT. THE DORM PHONE ROOM/STAIRWELL - AFTERNOON
Knox hears Chris' voice. He starts to speak, then hangs up
She's gonna hate me! The Danburrys
will hate me. My parents will kill
He looks at the faces of the others. No one says a word.
All right, goddamn it, you're right!
'Carpe diem' even if it kills me.
He picks up the phone and dials again.
INT. CHRIS HOUSE - SAME
Again the phone rings. Again Chris enters and answers.
INT. THE DORM - SAME
Hello Chris, this is Knox Overstreet.
INT. CHRIS' HOUSE - SAME
Knox. Oh yes, Knox. I'm glad you
INT. THE DORM - SAME
(excitedly to his
She's glad I called!
INT. CHRIS' HOUSE - SAME
I wanted to call you but I didn't have the number. Chet's
parents are going out of town this weekend so Chet's having
a party. Would you like to come?
INT. THE DORM - SAME
INT. CHRIS' HOUSE - SAME
Chet's parents don't know about it,
so please keep it quiet. But you can
bring someone if you like.
INT. DORM - SAME
I'll be there. The Danburrys. Friday
night. Thank you, Chris.
He hangs up the phone. He is thunderstruck. He lets out a
Can you believe it? She was gonna
call me! She invited me to a party
At Chet Danburry's house.
So you really think she means you're
going with her?
Well hell no, Charlie, but that's
not the point. That's not the point
What is the point?
The point is she was thinking about
me! I've only met her once and already
she's thinking about me. Damn it,
it's gonna happen! I feel it. She's
going to be mine!
He exits the phone room, his head in a cloud. The others
look at each other, not sure what to think.
EXT. THE HENLEY HALL AUDITORIUM - DAY
The buildings at this school are white brick. Neil parks his
bicycle and enters the auditorium.
INT. THE AUDITORIUM STAGE - LATER
High school actors are on stage rehearsing Shakespeare's "A
Midsummer Night's Dream." Neil stands center stage, playing
Puck. He holds a stick with a bell accoutered jester's head
on one end of it.
NEIL (AS PUCK)
Yet but three? Come one more. Two of
both kinds makes up four. Here she
comes, curst and sad. Cupid is a
knavish lad Thus to make poor females
Enter Ginny Danburry playing Hermia, crawling on stage,
looking exhausted. As she starts her lines, the DIRECTOR of
the play, a woman in her 40s, interrupts.
Good, Neil. I really get the feeling
your Puck knows he's in charge.
Remember that he takes great delight
in what he's doing.
(broadly, boldly impish)
Cupid is a knavish lad Thus to make
poor females mad!"
Excellent. Continue, Ginny.
As Ginny re-enters and starts her lines--
GINNY (AS HERMIA)
Never so weary, never so in woe,
Bedabbled with the dew, and torn
with briars I can no further crawl,
no further go."
EXT. THE WELTON DORMS - NIGHT
Neil rides up on his bike and parks it. As he starts into
the dorm, he spots a figure sitting motionless on a wall.
Neil walks over to get a better look. It is Todd, sitting in
the dark without a coat.
What's going on?
Todd doesn't answer.
Todd, what's the matter?
It's my birthday.
It is? Happy Birthday. You get
Todd is motionless. Then he points to a box. Neil looks. In
the box seems to be the monogrammed desk set that we've seen
on Todd's desk.
This is your desk set.
I don't get it.
They gave me the exact same thing as
Well, maybe they thought you'd need
another one. Maybe they thought...
Maybe they don't think at all unless
it's about my brother! His birthday's
always a big to-do.
(pause: looks at the
The stupid thing is, I didn't even
like the first one.
He puts the desk set down.
Look, Todd, you're obviously under-
estimating the value of this desk
I mean, this is one special gift!
Who would want a football or a
baseball bat or a car when they could
get a desk set as wonderful as this
Yeah! And just look at this ruler!
They laugh. A silence falls.
You know what Dad called me when I
was growing up? "Five ninety-eight."
That's what all the chemicals in the
human body would be worth if you
bottled them raw and sold them. He
told me that was all I'd ever be
worth unless I worked every day to
improve myself. "Five ninety-eight."
Neil shakes his head.
When I was little, I thought all
parents automatically loved their
kids. That's what my teachers told
me. That's what I read in the books
they gave me. That's what I believed.
Well, my parents might have loved my
brother but they did not love me.
He takes a deep, anguished breath. Neil is groping for
something to say. Todd walks into the dorm.
EXT. A WELTON BRICK COURTYARD - DAY
The class pours into the courtyard expectantly. Another
Keating stunt? Keating addresses them.
People, I am delighted with your
progress as reflected in your essays
and poems. However, I know the school
policy is to encourage study groups
and I believe that a dangerous though
inevitable element of conformity has
been seeping into your work. Misters
Pitts, Cameron, Overstreet, and
Chapman line up please over here.
Keating indicates for the four boys to stand near him.
On the count of four, begin walking
together around the courtyard. Nothing
to think about. No grade here. One,
two, three, go.
The boys begin walking. They go down one side of the
courtyard, across the back, up the other side, then across
That's the way. Please continue.
As the boys walk around the courtyard again, they begin to
walk together in step. Soon it becomes like a march, producing
a one-two-three-four cadence. Keating begins to clap.
There it is. Hear it?
(clapping louder in
One two, one two, one two, one two.
ANGLE THROUGH A WINDOW
McAllister sits in his empty classroom, reading a book. He
sees the commotion in the courtyard and watches.
ANGLE FROM ABOVE
The marching boys get into it. The class joins in clapping.
Soon the tour boys are marching vigorously to the rhythmic
clapping of the entire class.
Inside his second-story office, Nolan is looking out his
window at the marching boys below.
ANGLE ON KEATING
All right, stop. You way have noticed
how at the beginning Mister
Overstreet and Pitts: seemed to have
a different stride than the others,
but soon they were all walking in
the same cadence. Our encouragement
made it even more marked. Now this
experiment was not to single out
Pitts or Overstreet. What it
demonstrates is how difficult it is
for any of us to listen to our own
voice or maintain our own beliefs in
the presence of others. If any of
you believe you would have marched
differently, then ask yourself why
you participated in the clapping.
Lads, there is a great need in all
of us to be accepted. However, that
need can be like a nasty current,
whisking us away unless we're strong
and determined swimmers. Don't insist
on the separate path simply to be
different or contrary, but trust
what is unique about yourselves even
if it's odd or unpopular. As Mr.
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."
A bell rings, signifying the end of class. Keating walks
ANGLE ON NOLAN IN HIS OFFICE
Nolan moves away from the window.
ANGLE ON MCALLISTER IN HIS CLASSROOM
Amused at Keating's antics, he turns back to his book.
INT. ENTRANCE TO THE DEAD POETS CAVE - NIGHT
Todd. Neil, Cameron, Pitts, and Meeks sit around. A fog has
moved in and the trees sway in the breeze.
Getting ready for that party.
What about Charlie? He's the one who
insisted on this meeting.
"I went to the woods because I wanted
to live deliberately. To live deep
and suck out all the marrow of life--
In the woods there is a noise the sound of girls' laughter.
I can't see a thing.
It's just over here.
Charlie and TWO GIRLS arrive at the cave. One is pretty, the
other is plain. The girls are about 20, blonde, beers in
their hands. They aren't the type to be seriously interested
in Charlie or the other boys. They're just here for a good
Hey guys, meet Gloria and...
PLAIN GIRL (TINA)
Tina and Gloria, this is the pledge
class of the Dead Poets society.
It's such a strange name! Won't you
tell us what it means?
I told you, that's a secret.
Isn't he precious?
Gloria gives Charlie an affectionate hug. The other members
or the club are flabbergasted. These girls are wild, exotic
creatures, the kind whose unashamed love of men causes young
boys' hearts to come to rest in young boys'
The girls giggle.
I can't call you Charlie anymore?
(Puts her arm around
What does Numama mean, honey?
It's Nuwanda, and I made it up.
Charlie puts his arm around Gloria.
Let's build a fire.
Charlie shoots Meeks a look. As the boys move off to gather
wood, Charlie scrapes some mud off the wall of the cave and
wipes it on his face like an Indian brave. He shoots Gloria
his sexiest stare, then goes off with the other boys. The
girls whisper and giggle together.
EXT. THE DANBURRY HOUSE - NIGHT
Knox parks his bicycle along the side of the house. He takes
off his overcoat, and stuffs it in the bike saddle bag. He
straightens his tie, then goes to the front door. He knocks.
He can hear music inside. He knocks again. Finally, since no
one comes to the door, Knox opens it.
INT. THE DANBURRY HOUSE - SAME
Knox enters. "Open the Door to Your Heart" by Darrell Banks
is playing on the Hi-Fi. On the entrance hall couch is a
couple, making out like crazy. Up and down the stairs are
other couples doing the same. Knox stands there, not knowing
what to do. Momentarily, Chris walks through, her hair an
Chris turns and sees Knox.
Oh, hi. I'm glad you made it. Did
you bring anybody?
Ginny Danburry's here. Look for her.
I gotta find Chet. Make yourself at
She exits. Knox watches her. He slumps in dejection.
EXT. THE WOODS AROUND THE CAVE
Charlie is gathering wood. Neil, Pitts, Todd and the other
boys surround him.
Nuwanda, what is going on?
Nothing, unless you object to having
Well, of course not. It's just that...
You could have warned us.
I thought I'd be spontaneous. I mean,
that's the point of this whole thing,
Where'd you find them?
They were walking along the fence
past the soccer field. Said they
were curious about the school so I
invited them to the meeting.
Do they go to Henley Hall?
I don't think they're in school.
Cameron, what is the matter with
you. You act like they're your mother
or something. You afraid of them?
Hell no, I'm not afraid of them just,
if we get caught with them, we're
Say, what's going on out there?
Just gathering wood.
(low, to Cameron)
You just keep your mouth shut,
jerkoff, and there's nothing to worry
Watch who you call a jerkoff.
Oh calm down, Cameron.
Charlie gives Cameron an expression of mock fear, then heads
off. The others follow. Cameron watches Charlie and Neil for
a moment, then walks after them.
INT. THE DANBURRY PANTRY - NIGHT
Knox, looking suicidal, wanders through the crowded party
and ends up in the pantry. Kids stand talking. A couple in
the corner is involved in a long kiss. His hand keeps
wandering to her knee and her hand keeps pushing his away,
yet the kiss never breaks. This happens over and over through
the entire next scene.
Ginny Danburry is in the corner and she and Knox exchange
smiles. At the sink a guy stands making bourbon and Cokes.
The guy eyes Knox.
You Mutt Sanders' brother?
Knox shakes his head no.
BUBBA is a big, drunk jock leaning on the refrigerator.
This guy look like Mutt Sanders?
You his brother?
No relation. Never heard of him.
Say Steve, where's your manners?
Here's Mutt's brother and you don't
offer him a drink? Want some bourbon?
Actually I don't
Steve puts a glass in Knox's hand and fills it with bourbon,
adding only a hint of Coke. Bubba clinks the glass with him.
Bubba and Steve drain their glasses. Knox follows their lead,
then bursts into a coughing fit. Steve pours everyone more
So what the hell's Mutt been up to?
Actually I don't really know Mutt.
To fucking Mutt.
To fucking Mutt.
They drain their glasses again. Knox continues coughing.
Well, I'd better find Patsy.
(slaps Knox on the
Say hello to Mutt for me.
Knox and Ginny exchange knowing smiles. Bubba leaves Knox,
who is still coughing. Ginny wanders out. Steve pours him
and Knox more bourbon.
INT. THE CAVE - NIGHT
The boys have lit a fire and the girls are warming their
hands. The candle on the head of the "cave god" FLUTTERS.
Tina notices the pitted statue.
I heard you guys were weird but not
She takes out a pint of whiskey and offers some to Neil. He
takes it and sips. He obviously hasn't had much whiskey in
his life but he tries to act like he has. He hands it back.
Go ahead, pass it around.
Neil does. It goes from boy to boy. Each boy tries to act
like he likes the terrible bitterness he tastes. Unlike most
of the others, Todd manages to keep from coughing as he
swallows the whiskey. Everyone is impressed.
(to the others)
Don't you guys miss having girls
Miss it? It drives us crazy. That's
part of what this club is about. In
fact, I'd like to announce that I've
published an article in the school
paper, in the name of the Dead Poets
society, demanding girls be admitted
to Welton, so we can all stop beating
You what?! How did you do that?
I'm one of the proofers. I slipped
the article in.
Oh God, it's over now!
Why? Nobody knows who we are.
Don't you think they'll figure out
who did it?! Don't you know they'll
come to you and demand to know what
the Dead Poets Society is? Charlie,
you had no right to do something
It's Nuwanda, Cameron.
(putting her arm around
That's right, it's Nuwanda.
And are we just playing around out
here or do we mean what we say? If
all we do is come and read a bunch
of poems to each other, what the
hell are we doing?
You still shouldn't have done it,
Charlie. You don't speak for the
Hey, would you not worry about your
precious little necks? If they catch
me, I'll tell them I made it up. All
your asses are safe. Look, Gloria
and Tina didn't come here to listen
to us argue. Are we gonna have a
meeting or what?
Yeah, how do we know if we want to
join if you don't have a meeting?
(casts a surprised
lock at Charlie)
Charlie ignores this. He turns to Tina.
"Shall I compare thee to a summer's
day? Thou art more lovely and more
In his recital, Charlie has aimed these words directly at
Tina. She melts into warm goo.
Oh, that's so sweet!
Tina hugs Charlie. The other boys look at each other, trying
unsuccessfully to hide their incredible jealousy.
I wrote that for you.
I'll write one for you too, Gloria.
(closes his eyes then)
"She walks in beauty like the
Charlie's eyes open. He has forgotten the words to this poem.
Covering, he walks across the cave.
"She walks in beauty like the
Charlie turns his back, opens a book, and reads quickly to
himself. He closes it, puts the book down, and turns back to
"Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
All that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes."
Gloria squeals with delight.
Isn't he wonderful?!
The other boys are absolutely appalled, but desperately
jealous that Charlie is getting away with this. Gloria hugs
INT. THE DANBURRY LIVING ROOM - NIGHT
Music by the Drifters is playing loudly. Every light in the
room is out. The only illumination is moonlight through the
windows. Only after our eyes get adjusted to the dark can we
see that the room is filled with couples making out.
Knox, carrying another drink and looking tipsy, enters. He
walks a bit, then trips over a couple on the floor.
ANGRY GUY'S VOICE
Knox falls onto the sofa. To his left sit a couple making
out heavily. Their breathing is like that of some giant beast.
To Knox' right is another couple, making out too. Knox tries
to get up but the couple he tripped aver has now rolled
against his shins, pinning him. Knox tries to get comfortable
in his little spot on the sofa.
The music stops. The room sounds like an artificial
respiration ward. The couple to Knox' right look and sound
as if they are going to chew each other's lips off. Knox
glances at the couple to his left. He hears:
Oh Chris, you're so beautiful.
The couple are Chris and Chet. Chris is sitting right next
to Knox. Music starts again. It's "This Magic Moment" by the
Drifters. Chris and Chet continue petting heavily. Knox tries
to look away but can't keep his eyes off Chris.
Chris, you are so gorgeous.
Chet kisses Chris hard and she leans against Knox. In the
moonlight-filled room, Knox sees the outline of Chris' face,
the nape of her neck, the curves of her breasts. He downs
the rest of his drink and tries to look away.
Oh my God help me.
Chris obliviously continues to lean against Knox. Knox is
struggling with temptation--trying not to even look--but
he's losing. Suddenly, he turns and looks at Chris again.
Every rational thing inside of him says "no" but his emotions
are saying yes.
carpe breastum. Seize the breast.
I didn't say anything.
Chet and Chris continue to kiss. As though his hand were
being drawn by a magnet too powerful to resist, Knox' hand
reaches out and begins to ever so lightly stroke the nape of
Chris' neck down toward her breast. Chris obviously thinks
that the hand is Chet's and she lets it continue. Knox moves
his hand up and down her, sensuously. He closes his eyes,
(in the dark)
Oh Chet, that feels fabulous.
(in the dark)
(in the dark)
Knox pulls his hand away. Chet thinks a moment, then kisses
(in the dark)
(in the dark)
(in the dark)
Knox puts his hand back on Chris' neck. Again he starts
rubbing her, ever so gently, moving down toward her breast.
(in the dark)
We can see Chet's silhouette pausing over Chris, trying to
figure out what she is talking about. Giving up, he goes
back to kissing her. Chris continues to show her pleasure.
Knox leans his head back on the sofa and his breathing becomes
heavy. The music builds. Unable to resist, he rubs Chris'
chest, getting dangerously close to her breast. Chris is
breathing hard. Knox is slipping into ecstasy. His drink
falls out of his hand.
Suddenly Chet's hand grabs Knox's hand and a lamp light flicks
on. Knox is face to face with a furious Chet and a confused
What are you doing?!
Chet! Chris! What are you doing here?
Chet smashes Knox in the face with his fist. Chet grabs Knox
by the shirt, throws him to the floor, and jumps on him. He
begins swinging at Knox's face which Knox is doing his best
You fucked up little prick!
(beginning to feel
sorry for Knox)
Chet, you don't have to hurt him.
Chet's fists hit Knox over and over.
Chet, stop! He didn't mean anything.
She pushes Chet off. Knox rolls over, holding his face.
Chet stands over Knox, who is holding his bloody nose and
I'm sorry, Chris. I'm sorry!
You want some more, you little son
of a bitch? Huh?! Get the hell out
He moves at Knox again, but Chris and some others hold him
back. Others lead Knox out of the room.
Chris, I'm sorry!
Next time I see you, you're dead!
INT. THE CAVE - NIGHT
The fire casts warm light on the wall of the cave. Gloria
sits with her arm around Charlie, staring adoringly. The
bottle passes between Tina and the others.
Hey guys, why don't you show Tina
the Dead Poets garden?
Charlie silently motions with his eyes for Pitts and the
others to vamoose. Neil elbows Pitts and makes a motion
outside with his head. Suddenly Pitts gets it.
Oh. Right. That garden. Come on,
The boys head out with Tina.
This is so strange! You guys even
have a garden?
Meeks stands in the cave, still not getting it.
What are you guys talking about?
All of the others are gone. Meeks looks at Charlie, who stares
daggers at him.
Charles, uh, Nuwanda, we don't have
Neil comes back in and pulls Meeks out. Charlie waits for
them to go.
God, for a smart guy, he's so stupid.
Gloria stares into Charlie's eyes. Charlie smiles.
I think he's sweet.
I think you're sweet.
Charlie looks at her. He closes his eyes and leans slowly in
to kiss her. Just as he is about to, she stands.
You know what really excites me about
Every guy that I meet wants me for
one thing my body. You're not like
No! Anybody else would have jumped
my bones by now but you're after my
soul. Make me up some more poetry.
Please! It's so wonderful to be
appreciated for my mind!
She gets up and starts pacing. Charlie puts his hand over
his face. Gloria turns and looks at him.
All right! I'm thinking!
"Let me not to the marriage of true
minds Admit impediments; love is not
love Which alters when it alteration
finds Or bends with the remover to
Gloria emits sensual moans.
(more and more rapidly
and punctuated by
"O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark
That looks on tempests and is never
shaken; It is the star to every
wandering bark whose worth's unknown,
although his height be taken."
This is better than sex any day.
This is romance!
As a frustrated Charlie continues reciting
INT. WELTON ACADEMY CHAPEL - DAY
There is a buzz in the student body as they move to their
seats, passing school newspapers amongst themselves. Knox's
face is marked with bruises. Neil, Todd, Pitts, Necks, Cameron
and especially Charlie's faces are marked with exhaustion.
Pitts hands Charlie a briefcase.
Charlie nods. Mr. Nolan enters. All put away the newspapers
and stand. Nolan strides to the podium and motions for
everyone to sit. All obey.
In this week's issue of Walter Honor,
there appeared an unauthorized and
profane article about the need for
girls at Welton. Rather than spend
my valuable time ferreting out the
guilty parties--and let me assure
you I will find them--I am asking
any and all students who know anything
about this article to make themselves
known here and now. Whoever the guilty
persons are, this is your only chance
to avoid expulsion from this school.
Suddenly, somewhere in the room there is the sound of a
TELEPHONE RINGING. Charlie briskly lifts the briefcase into
his lap and opens it. Inside the briefcase is a ringing
telephone. Everyone in assembly is astounded. No one has
ever done something this outrageous here. Charlie, undaunted,
seemingly serious, answers the phone.
CHARLIE (INTO PHONE)
(for all to hear)
Welton Academy, hello? Yes, he is,
just a moment. Mr. Nolan, it's for
Charlie places the receiver back to his ear.
It is? You do? I'll tell him. Mr.
Nolan, it's God. He says we should
have girls at Welton.
There is a blast of laughter from the students. On stage
with the teachers, Keating is surprised and amused, but
worried. He and McAllister exchange concerned looks. Blood
red, furious, Nolan strides down the aisle to Charlie. He
sweeps the phone off of Charlie's lap.
I will not be mocked, Mr. Dalton!
He takes Charlie by the arm and jerks him out of the assembly.
Keating watches with concern.
INT. NOLAN'S OFFICE - DAY
Charlie stands in the middle of the room. Nolan paces
Who else was involved in this?
No one, sir. It was just me. I did
the proofing so I inserted my article
in place of Rob Crane's.
Mr. Dalton, if you think you're the
first to try to get thrown out of
this school, think again. Others
have had similar actions and they
have failed just as surely as you
will fail. Bend over and grab your
Charlie obeys and Nolan produces a paddle. The paddle has
holes drilled in it to speed its progress. Nolan takes off
his jacket and moves behind Charlie.
Count aloud, Mr. Dalton.
He slams the paddle into Charlie's buttocks.
Nolan swings the paddle again. This time he gets more power
into it. Charlie winces.
Nolan delivers and Charlie counts. By the fourth lick, the
pain is so intense that Charlie is barely audible. By the
seventh lick, tears are flowing down Charlie's cheeks. The
ninth and tenth licks have Charlie choking on his words,
speechless. Nolan stops after ten licks.
Do you still insist that this was
your idea and your idea alone?
(choking back pain)
What is this "Dead Poets Society"?
I want names.
(still in agony)
It's only me, Mr. Nolan. I swear. I
made it up.
If I find that there are others, Mr.
Dalton, they will be expelled and
you will remain enrolled. Stand up.
Charlie obeys. His face is blood red. He fights back tears
of pain and humiliation.
Welton can forgive, Mr. Dalton,
provided you have the courage to
admit your mistakes. When you are
ready to make your apology to the
entire school, let me know.
INT. THE JUNIOR DORM - AFTERNOON
The boys are milling in their rooms, waiting for Charlie's
return. Someone sees him coming. All pretend to be studying.
Charlie enters, moving slowly, trying not to show his pain.
As he walks toward his room, Neil, Todd, Knox (bruised face),
Pitts, and Necks approach him.
What happened? Were you kicked out?
(not looking at anyone)
I'm supposed to turn everybody in,
apologize to the school and all will
Charlie heads into his room. The others look at each other.
What are you going to do? -- Charlie?
Damn it, Neil, the name is Nuwanda.
Charlie gives the boys a pregnant look, then goes into his
room and slams his door. Smiles of admiration cross the boys'
faces. Charlie has not been broken.
INT. WELTON CLASSROOM BUILDING - AFTERNOON
Keating walks down the corridor. He is just about to stop
and talk to McAllister when Nolan passes.
Mr. Keating, could we have a word?
INT. KEATING'S EMPTY CLASSROOM - DAY
Keating and Nolan enter. Keating turns on the light. Nolan
This was my first classroom, John,
did you know that?
(looks at Keating's
My first desk.
I didn't know you taught.
English. Way before your time. It
was hard giving it up, I'll tell
I'm hearing rumors, John, of some
unusual teaching methods in your
classroom. I'm not saying they have
anything to do with the Dalton boy's
outburst, but I don't think I have
to warn you that boys his age are
Your reprimand made quite an
impression I'm sure.
(letting this pass)
What was going on in the courtyard
the other day?
Boys marching. Clapping in unison.
Oh that. That was an exercise to
prove a point. About the evils of
John, the curriculum here is set.
It's proven. It works. If you question
it, what's to prevent them from doing
I always thought education was
learning to think for yourself.
At these boys' age? Not on your life!
Tradition, John. Discipline.
(pats Keating on the
Prepare them for college, and the
rest will take care of itself.
Mr. Nolan smiles and leaves. Keating stands, thinking. After
a beat, McAllister sticks his head in the door.
I wouldn't worry about the boys being
too conformist if I were you.
Why is that?
Well, you yourself graduated from
these hallowed halls, did you now?
So if you want to raise a confirmed
atheist, give him a rigid religious
upbringing. Works every time.
Keating stares at McAllister. He suddenly lets cut a laugh.
McAllister smiles, then disappears down the hall.
INT. THE JUNIOR CLASS DORM - AFTERNOON
Boys are walking out on the way to their activities. Keating
enters and approaches Charlie, who is exiting with his
I don't know what misguided impulse
caused you to pull that ridiculous
stunt, Mr. Dalton, but, whatever it
was, I hope you've learned your
You're siding with Mr. Nolan?! What
about carpe diem and sucking all the
marrow out of life and all that?
Sucking out the marrow doesn't mean
getting the bone stuck in your throat,
Charles. You still have
responsibilities to yourself and
those who care about you.
But I thought--
There is a place for daring and a
place for caution as well, Charles,
and a wise person understands which
one is called for. Getting expelled
from this school is not an act of
wisdom. It's far from perfect but
there are still opportunities to be
Yeah? Like what?
Like, if nothing else, the opportunity
to attend my classes, understand?
So keep your head about you--the lot
NEIL, TODD, PITTS, MEEKS, CAMERON,
Keating gives then' a slight smile, then exits.
INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY
The boys are seated. Keating walks to the blackboard and in
a big scrawl writes: "COLLEGE".
Gentlemen, today we will consider a
skill which I consider indispensable
for getting the most out of college
analyzing books you haven't read.
College will probably destroy your
love for poetry. Hours of boring
analysis, dissection and criticism
will see to that. College will also
expose you to all manner of literature--
much of it transcendent works of
magic which you must devour; some of
it utter drek which you must avoid
like the plague.
Suppose you are taking a course
entitled "Modern Novels." All semester
you have been reading masterpieces
such as the touching PERE GORIER by
Balzac and the moving FATHERS and
SONS by Turgenev, but when you receive
your assignment for your final paper,
you discover that you are to write
an essay on the theme of parental
love in The Doubtful Debutante, a
novel--and I use that term generously
here--by none other than the professor
Keating looks at the boys with a raised eyebrow, then
After reading the first three pages
of the book, you realize that you
would rather volunteer for combat
than waste your precious earthly
time infecting your mind with this
sewage, but do you despair? Take an
"F." Absolutely not because you are
Open The Doubtful Deb and learn from
the jacket that the book is about
Frank, a farm equipment salesman who
sacrifices everything to provide his
social climbing daughter Christine
with the debut she so desperately
desires. Begin your essay by
disclaiming the need to restate the
plot while at the same time
regurgitating enough of it to convince
the professor that you've read his
book. Next shift to something
pretentious and familiar. For
instance, you might write, "What is
remarkable to note are the
similarities between the author's
dire picture of parental love and
modern Freudian theory. Christine is
Electra, her father is a fallen
Oedipus." Finally, skip to the obscure
and elaborate like this:
Keating pauses, then...
What is most remarkable is the novel's
uncanny connection with Hindu Indian
philosopher Avesh Rahesh Non. Rahesh
Non discussed in painful detail the
discarding of parents by children
for the three headed monster of
ambition, money, and social success.
Go on to discuss Rahesh Non's theories
about what feeds the monster, how to
behead it, etcetera etcetera. End by
praising the professor's brilliant
writing and consummate courage in
introducing The Doubtful Deb to you.
Meeks raises his hand.
Oh Captain, My Captain. What if we
don't know anything about someone
like Rahesh Non?
Rahesh Non never existed, Mr. Meeks.
You make him or someone like him up.
No self important college professor
such as this one would dare admit
ignorance of such an obviously
important figure and you will probably
receive a comment similar to the one
Keating finds a paper on his desk and reads from it:
Your allusions to Rahesh Non were
insightful and well presented. Glad
to see that someone besides myself
appreciates this great but forgotten
Eastern master. A plus.
He drops the paper.
Gentlemen, analyzing dreadful books
you haven't read will be on your
final exam, so I suggest you practice
on your own. Now for some traps of
college exams. Take out a blue book
and pencil, boys. This is a pop quiz.
The boys obey. Keating passes out tests. He sets up a screen
in the front of the room, then goes to the back of the room
and sets up a slide projector.
Big universities are crowded Sodoms
and Gomorrahs filled with those
delectable beasts we see so little
of here: females. The level of
distraction is dangerously high, but
this quiz is designed to prepare
you. Let me warn you, this test will
The boys begin their tests. Keating puts a slide in the
projector. On the screen in the front of the room appears a
blow-up of a beautiful girl, college age, leaning over to
pick up a pencil. Her figure is quite remarkable, and, bending
over as she is, you can see her panties. The boys glance up
from their tests, then most do a double-take on the photo.
Concentrate on your tests, boys.
You have twenty minutes.
Keating changes the slide. This time we see a beautiful woman
in scanty lingerie (an ad from "Vogue" or a similar magazine).
The boys find it extremely difficult to concentrate on their
tests. The slide show continues with slide after slide of
beautiful women in revealing and provocative poses, tight
blow-ups of naked female Greek statues, etc. The boys try in
vain to take their tests. Knox writes "Chris, Chris, Chris"
over and over on his paper.
EXT. THE WELTON CAMPUS - DUSK
Boys in heavy-hooded jackets and winter mufflers move from
building to building. The wind blows leaves around in swirling
ANGLE ON A PATH where Todd and Neil walk together. Todd holds
a copy of "A Midsummer's Night's Dream." Neil is using his
Puck jester's stick like a sword while practicing his lines.
Here, villain, draw and ready. Where
I will be with thee straight.
Follow me then to plainer ground.
God, I love this!
Yes, and acting! It's got to be one
of the most wonderful things in the
world. Most people, if they're lucky,
live about half an exciting life! If
I could get the parts, I could live
dozens of lives.
With a theatrical flourish, he runs and leaps onto a wall.
To be or net to be, that is the
question! God, for the first time in
my whole life, I feel completely
alive! You have to try it.
Neil jumps down from the wall.
You should come to rehearsals. I
know they need people to work the
lights and stuff.
Lots of girls. The girl who plays
Hermia is incredible.
I'll come to the performance.
Chicken shit. Where were we?
Yea, art thou there?
Put more into it!
YEA, ART THOU THERE?!
That's it! "Follow my voice. We'll
try no manhood here." See you at
Neil and Todd have arrived at their dorm. Neil runs in. Todd
shakes his head and walks off.
INT. TODD AND NEIL'S DORM ROOM - DUSK
Neil enters in a whirlwind of excitement, fencing the air
with the Jester's stick. Neil turns and sees his father,
sitting at his desk. Neil is shocked.
Neil, you are going to quit this
ridiculous play immediately.
Mr. Perry jumps to his feet and pounds his hand on the desk.
Don't you dare talk back to me! It's
bad enough that you've wasted your
time with this absurd acting business.
But you deliberately deceived me!
Who put this in your head? How did
you expect to get away with it? Answer
Nobody--I thought I'd surprise you.
I've got all A's and--
Did you really think I wouldn't find
out?! "My niece is in a play with
your son," Mrs. Marks says. "You
must be mistaken," I say. "My son
isn't in a play." You made a liar
out of me, Neil! Now you will go
tomorrow and tell them you are
Father, I have the main part. The
performance is tomorrow night.
(moves at Neil)
I don't care if the world is coming
to an end tomorrow night, you are
through with that play! Is that clear?
Is that clear!
Mr. Perry stops. He stares hard at his son.
I've made great sacrifices to get
you here, Neil. You will not let me
He turns and exits. Neil stands there for a long time. He
goes to his desk, then suddenly begins pounding his fist on
it. He pounds and pounds as tears roll down his face.
INT. THE WELTON DINING ROOM - EVENING
All of the society "pledges" except Neil sit eating. It could
be noticed that the boys--Charlie, Knox, Todd, Weeks, and
Pitts--seem to be having difficulty eating. They look awkward.
Old Hager approaches.
Mr. Dalton, what is wrong, son? Are you having difficulty
with your meal?
Hager watches the boys.
Misters Meeks and Overstreet and
Anderson, are you normally left-
Then why are you eating with your
The boys look at each other. Knox speaks for the group:
We thought it would be good to break
old habits, sir.
What is wrong with old habits, Mr.
They perpetuate mechanical living,
sir. They limit your mind.
Mr. Overstreet, I suggest you worry
less about breaking old habits and
more about developing good study
habits. Do you understand?
That goes for all of you. Now eat
with your correct hands.
Hager watches. The boys obey. After he moves away, Charlie
switches hands and begins eating with his left hand again.
One by one, the others do the same.
Neil enters, looking solemn and upset. He silently takes his
seat at the table.
Visit from my father.
Do you have to quit the play?
I don't know.
Why don't you talk to Mr. Keating
What good will that do?
Maybe he'll have some advice. Maybe
he'll even talk to your father.
Are you kidding? Don't be ridiculous.
EXT. KEATING'S ROOM - EVENING
Keating's quarters are on the second floor of a dorm, but
they are entered from the outside. Charlie, Todd, Pitts and
Neil stand outside the door. Charlie knocks.
This is stupid.
It's better than doing nothing.
No one comes to the door.
He's not here.
Charlie tries the door and it opens.
Let's wait for him.
Charlie goes in.
Charlie doesn't come out. Curiosity gets the best of the
others, who reluctantly follow Charlie in.
INT. KEATING'S ROOM - SAME
The furniture is simple and spartan and the room looks almost
lonely. The boys stand around looking uncomfortable.
Nuwanda, we shouldn't be in here.
Charlie and the boys survey the room. There is a suitcase on
the floor by the door. A few books lay by the bed. Charlie
walks to the desk.
Whoa, look at her!
On the desk is a framed picture of a beautiful girl in her
20s. Lying next to the picture is a half-written letter.
Charlie picks it up and reads.
My darling Jessica. It's so lonely
at times without you bla bla bla.
All I can do to put myself at ease
is study your beautiful picture or
close my eyes and imagine your radiant
smile--but my poor imagination is a
dim substitute for you. Oh, how I
miss you and wish--
The other boys have sensed an extra presence in the room.
They back away from Charlie. Suddenly Charlie stops and sees
Keating calmly takes the letter from Charlie and folds it.
A woman is a cathedral, boys. Worship
at one every chance you get.
He OPENS a drawer.
Anything else you'd care to rifle
through, Mr. Dalton?
I'm sorry. I, we...
Keating puts the letter in the drawer and closes it. Charlie
looks around for help. Neil steps forward.
Oh Captain, My Captain, we came here
so I could talk to you about
Actually, I'd like to talk to you
Charlie and the others are glad to be let out.
I gotta go study.
Yeah. See you, Mr. Keating.
They hurry to leave.
Drop by any time.
Thank you, sir.
(low, while exiting)
Damn it, Nuwanda. You idiot.
I couldn't stop myself.
Keating can't help but smile to himself. Neil and Mr. Keating
are alone. Neil paces, looking around.
Gosh, they don't give you much room
around here, do they?
Maybe they don't want worldly things
distracting me from my teaching.
Why do you do it? I mean, with all
this seize-the-day business, I'd
have thought you'd be out seeing the
world or something?
Ah, but I am seeing the world, Neil.
The new world. Seeing a student like
you take root and bloom. It's worth
everything. That's why I came back
here. A place like this needs at
least one teacher like me.
(smiles at his joke,
Did you come here to talk about my
Mr. Keating, my father is making me
quit the play at Henley Hall. When I
think about carpe diem and all that,
I feel like I'm in prison! I mean, I
can see his point. We're not a rich
family like Charlie's. But he's
planned the rest of my life for me
and he's never even asked me what I
You can't live a life for someone
else, Neil. You can only live for
yourself. Have you told your father
what you just told me? Have you shown
him your passion about acting?
Are you kidding? He'd kill me!
Then you're playing a part for him
too, aren't you? A dangerously self-
Keating watches Neil pace anxiously.
Neil, I know this seems impossible
but you have to go to your father
and show him what you're feeling.
You have to let him see who you are-
It's your only chance.
I know what he'll say. He'll say
that acting is just a whim and that
it's frivolous and that I should
forget about it. He'll tell me how
they're counting on me and to put it
out of my mind "for my own good."
Well, if it's more than a whim, then
you'll have to prove that to him.
You'll have to show him with your
passion and commitment that it's
what you really want to do. If that
doesn't work, at least by then you'll
be eighteen and able to do what you
Eighteen! That's two years! What
about the play? The performance is
Give your father the benefit of the
doubt. Talk to him. Let him see who
Isn't there an easier way?
Not if you're going to stay true to
Neil sits there for a long time.
INT. CHARLIE'S CAVE - NIGHT
The boys sit in the candle-lit room. Charlie blows notes on
his saxophone. Knox sits in the corner, mumbling to himself,
working on a love poem to Chris. Todd sits writing something
too. Cameron is studying. Pitts is scratching a quote out of
a book into the wall. Knox looks at his watch.
Ten minutes to curfew.
Nobody responds. Knox looks at Todd.
What are you writing?
I don't know. A poem.
I don't know.
Charlie keeps playing the sax. Todd keeps writing. Knox looks
at his love poem to Chris. He slaps it on the side of his
Damn. Damn! If I could just get Chris
to read this poem!
Why don't you read it to her? It
worked for Nuwanda.
She won't even see me, Pitts.
Nuwanda recited poetry to Gloria and
she jumped all over him... right,
Charlie stops blowing on his sax. He thinks a moment about
He starts blowing notes again. Off in the distance, we hear
a bell ring. Charlie finishes his melody, puts his sax in
its case, and moves out. Todd, Cameron, and Pitts exit too.
Knox stands there, alone, looking at his poem. then exits
Damn! Goddam! If it worked for him,
it'll work for me.
EXT. THE WELTON GROUNDS - EARLY MORNING
The dawn rises over the frozen Welton campus. Snow covers
the ground. The school bagpiper stands, playing a haunting
EXT. THE JUNIOR DORMITORY - SAME
Knox comes out of the dorm building, bundled against the
freezing weather. Be hurries onto his bike and speeds away.
EXT. RIDGEWAY HIGH SCHOOL
A large sign proclaims Ridgeway High School. Knox bikes up
to the school at full speed. He now carries a bouquet of
flowers. Out of breath, he quickly discards the bike and
runs into the school.
INT. THE HALLWAYS OF RIDGEWAY HIGH - MORNING
Students of both sexes move through the hallways of this
public school. Students are at their lockers, putting up
their coats and getting out their books. Knox runs through,
erratically looking around. He hurries down one hallway,
stops and asks a student something, then runs up a flight of
INT. ANOTHER RIDGEWAY HIGH HALLWAY - SAME
Chris stands in front of her locker, chatting with a couple
of girlfriends taking out some books. Knox spots her and
Knox! What are you doing here?
She pulls Knox away from her girlfriends.
I came to apologize for the other
night. I brought you these and a
poem I wrote.
He holds out the flowers and the poem. Chris sees them, but
doesn't take them.
If Chet sees you, he'll kill you,
don't you know that?
I don't care. I love you, Chris. You
deserve better than Chet and I'm it.
Please accept these.
Knox, you're crazy.
A bell rings. People clear the halls.
Please. I acted like a jerk and I
know it. Please?
She looks at the flowers as if she's thinking about accepting
No! And stop bugging me.
She walks into the classroom and closes the door. The hallway
clears. Knox stands holding his flowers and his poem. There
is a moment's hesitation, then he opens the door and walks
into the classroom.
INT. CHRIS' CLASSROOM - SAME
Class hasn't started but students are taking their seats.
The teacher leans over a student's desk, helping her with
her homework. Knox enters and walks to Chris' desk.
Knox, I don't believe this!
All I'm asking you to do is listen.
(he opens his poem
"The heavens made a girl named Chris,
With hair and skin of gold To touch
her would be paradise To kiss her
Chris turns red with embarrassment. Her friends restrain
giggles. Knox continues reading.
They made a goddess and called her
Chris, How? I'll never know. But
though my soul is far behind, My
love can only grow.
The rest of the class has now seen what is happening and all
eyes are on Knox. Chris covers her face but Knox continues.
I see a sweetness in her smile, Bright
light shines from her eyes, But life
is complete--contentment is mine,
just knowing that she's alive."
Knox lowers the poem. Chris looks up at him, utterly
embarrassed. Knox puts the poem and the flowers on her desk.
I love you, Chris.
He turns and leaves.
INT. KEATING'S ENGLISH CLASSROOM - DAY
The boys sit. Keating hasn't arrived. Momentarily, Knox enters
and hurries to his desk.
How'd it go? Did you read it to her?
All right! What'd she say?
I don't know.
What do you mean you don't know?
I'll tell you later.
The door to the room opens. In walks Keating, wearing his
usual scarf and jacket. He puts his books on his desk, then
looks out over the class.
Neil, could I see you a moment.
He walks into the hallway.
INT. THE HALLWAY OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM - SAME
The corridor is empty except for Neil and Keating. Keating
closes the door to the classroom.
What did your father say? Did you
talk to him?
Really? You told your father what
you told me? You let him see your
passion for acting?
Yeah. He didn't like it one bit but
at least he's letting me stay in the
play. Of course, he won't be able to
come. He'll be in Chicago on business.
But I think he's gonna let me stay
with acting. As long as I keep my
Neil heads back into the classroom. Keating watches.
INT. THE DORM PHONE ROOM/STAIRWELL - NIGHT
Todd, Knox, Cameron, Pitts, and Meeks all wear coats and
ties. They mill in the dorm lobby. Knox is off to himself,
still looking morose.
Where's Nuwanda? We're gonna miss
He said something about getting red
before he left.
What the hell does that mean?
You know Charlie.
Charlie scampers down the stairs.
What's this getting red?
Charlie checks around, then opens his shirt, revealing that
he has painted a red lightning bolt on his chest.
What's it for?
It's an Indian warrior symbol for
virility. Makes me feel potent.
Like I can drive girls crazy.
But what if they see it, Nuwanda?
So much the better.
The others shoot each other looks, confirming their mutual
suspicion that Charlie has finally lost his marbles. As they
head out of the lobby, they pass Chris who is entering.
Knox, why are you doing this to me?
You can't be in here.
He leads her out of the dorm.
EXT. THE DORM BUILDING - NIGHT
It is snowing. Knox ushers Chris out of the building and
down the sidewalk away from the others.
If they catch you here, we'll both
be in big trouble.
Oh, but it's fine for you to come
barging into my school and make a
complete fool out of me?
I didn't mean to make a fool of you.
Well, you did! Chet found out and
he's nuts. It took everything I could
do to keep him from coming here and
killing you. You have to stop this
But I love you.
You say that over and over but you
don't even know me!
At the dorm, the others are waiting. Knox waves them on.
Go ahead. I'll catch up.
The others walk on. Knox waits for them to disappear.
Of course I know you! From the first
time I saw you, I knew you had a
Just like that?! You just knew?
Of course just like that. That's how
you always know when it's right.
And if it so happens that you're
wrong? If it just so happens that I
could care less about you?
Then you wouldn't be here warning me
This gives Chris pause.
Look, I've got to go. I'm gonna be
late for the play.
Are you going with Chet?
Chet? To a play? Are you kidding?
Then come with me.
Knox, you are so infuriating!
Just give me one chance. If you don't
like me after tonight, I'll stay
I promise. Dead Poets honor. Come
with me tonight, then if you don't
want to see me again, I swear I'll
God, if Chet found out he'd...
Chet won't know anything. We'll sit
in back and sneak away as soon as
Knox, if you promise that this will
be the end of it--
Dead Poets honor.
What is that?
He crosses his heart with his fingers and looks sincere. He
leads a reluctant Chris off.
I must be losing my mind.
INT. HENLEY HALL AUDITORIUM AND STAGE - NIGHT
The auditorium is filled to near capacity with families,
teachers and students. Charlie, Todd, Meeks, Cameron, and
Pitts find seats in the back. They spot Mr. Keating a few
rows over and wave at him. Beside him is Mr. McAllister.
The lights go down. A small musical accompaniment--panpipes,
bongos, triangle--plays. The curtain rises. As the actors
make their entrances, they are applauded by their friends
As the actors begin the play, Charlie notices out of the
corner of his eye Knox entering with Chris. They find seats
and sit down together. Charlie shoots Knox a surprised lock
of excitement. Knox gives a little nod.
SHORT DISSOLVE TO:
Neil makes his entrance as Puck, he wears a crown of flowers.
The members of the Dead Poets Society cheer loudly. For a
moment Neil looks lost. Todd crosses his fingers.
"flow now, spirit. wither wander
HIGH SCHOOL ACTOR (AS FAIRY)
Over hill, over dale, through bush,
Keating glances back at the Dead Poets and gives them the
thumbs up for luck for Neil. They acknowledge with gestures
of their own.
Thou speakest aright: I am that merry
wanderer of the night. I jest to
Oberon and make him smile when I a
fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal
ANGLE ON THE "DEAD POETS"
intently watching the show. As Neil delivers his lines,
getting laughs in the right places, Todd sits mouthing the
lines with him, as if this might help Neil get through it.
Neil clearly needs no help, though, and his performance is
quite winning. Charlie leans to the others.
He's good! He's goddamned good!
Someone from behind whispers "Sssh." Charlie whispers "sssh"
back at them, then turns back and watches the show. Suddenly
he does a double-take. He sees:
Mr. Perry enters in the rear of the auditorium, and stands
alone beside the door.
Oh my God.
Charlie indicates for the others to lock. Todd and the others
glance back and see Mr. Perry.
All turn back and watch the play, though they are now quite
tense about Mr. Perry's presence.
On stage are the characters of Lysander and Hermia. Hermia
is played by Ginny Danburry, who is fetching1y dressed in a
costume of leaves and twigs.
One turf shall serve as pillow for
us both, One heart, one bed, two
bosoms, and one troth.
Nay good Lysander. For my sake, my
dear, Lie further off yet: do not
lie so near.
ANGLE ON THE DEAD POETS
Charlie is looking through the program.
Hermia's Ginny Danburry. Knox is
crazy. She's beautiful!
Meeks holds his finger to his lips for Charlie to be quiet.
But gentle friend, for love and
courtesy Lie further off, in human
modesty. Such separation as may well
be said Becomes a virtuous bachelor
and a maid, So far be distant: and
goodnight, sweet friend. Thy love
ne'er alter till they sweet life
Charlie sits absolutely enraptured by her.
As Ginny and Lysander play their scene, Neil stands in the
wings looking out. He spots his father sitting in the back
of the auditorium. There is no panic on Neil's face, however.
His expression is calm.
Here is my bed. Sleep give thee all
GINNY (AS HERMIA)
With half that wish the wisher's
eyes be pressed!
Lysander and Ginny lie down on the stage and their characters
go to sleep. The musical accompaniment plays, beginning a
THE MUSICAL INTERLUDE
The panpipes and bongos weave a haunting spell. In SLOW
MOTION, without words, we watch Neil on stage, playing Puck.
Neil moves in a lyrical revelry, unblushingly joyful,
enchanted and enchanting. It is Neil in the full flower of
The other characters appear in this slow motion interlude
too... Ginny, as Hermia, glowing as we never knew she could;
Charlie, spellbound by her; Keating, Todd, and the boys awed
and delighted by everything they see. Knox stares at Chris
in complete rapture. Chris is starting to be caught up with
Knox, though she tries hard not to show it.
The interlude is over. Neil stands on stage alone as Puck.
He addresses the audience but these next words are
particularly for his father.
NEIL (AS PUCK)
If we shadows have offended, Think
but this and all is mended--That you
have but slumb'red here While these
visions did appear. And this weak
and idle theme, No more yielding but
a dream, Gentle, do not reprehend.
If you pardon, we will mend. And as
I am an honest Puck, If we have
unearned luck Now to scrape the
serpent's tongue. We will make amends
ere long; Else the Puck a liar call.
So, good night unto you all. Give me
your hands, if we be friends, And
Robin will restore amends.
If there were any doubts about Neil's talent as an actor,
they are gone. The curtain falls. The audience breaks into
ANGLE ON THE AUDIENCE
The boys, Keating, everybody, rising to a standing ovation.
ANGLE ON THE STAGE
Actors take their bows. Ginny receives great applause. She
acknowledges Charlie, who applauds and shouts bravos like a
boy struck by a thunderbolt. Knox smiles at Chris as they
applaud. He takes her hand and she lets him.
Neil re-enters and takes his bow. The members of the Dead
Poets Society cheer. Neil bows. There are some more cheers
from other members of the audience, including Keating.
Neil's father is gone.
INT. WINGS AND BACKSTAGE AREA - NIGHT
The area is a madhouse, full of excited actors, proud parents,
well-wishers, etc. As the members of the Dead Poets Society
and Mr. Keating enter, Charlie spots Ginny, who is surrounded
BOY KNOX'S AGE
You were great.
A boy cast member Charlie's age puts his arm around her.
BOY CAST MEMBER
Ginny is the center of a sea of adulation. Charlie waits his
turn and thinks. Finally he faces her. With total sincerity
Bright light shines from your eyes.
Ginny sees that he means it. They stare into each other's
INT. THE BOYS' DRESSING ROOM - SAME
The excited actors enter, jubilant about how well the play
went. Neil, in a daze touched by art, is carried in on the
shoulders of his fellow actors. After a moment of celebration,
Neil's father enters, holding back his fury.
Neil, come with me.
Neil gets off the shoulders of his friends.
Mr. Perry leads Neil toward the dressing room door.
You lied to me!
EXT. THE AUDITORIUM PARKING LOT - NIGHT
Mr. Perry leads Neil like a prisoner out of the auditorium
and toward the cars. Other actors and members of the audience
yell congratulations at Neil. Todd is behind the throng,
trying to reach his friend.
Neil, that was great! Neil!
We're having a party!
It's no use.
Mr. Keating reaches Neil and takes him by the shoulders.
Neil, you were brilliant!
Mr. Perry pushes Keating's hands away.
Keep away from him!
This stuns everybody. Mr. Perry leads Neil away. Todd,
Keating, Charlie, Pitts, etc. watch as Mr. Perry puts Neil
into his car. Charlie starts to go after him, Keating stops
Don't make it any worse than it is.
Mr. Perry starts the car and pulls off. Neil's face through
the window is like a prisoner being taken to his execution.
Stunned, the members of the Dead Poets Society gather.
We still having the meeting?
INT. MR. PERRY'S STUDY - NIGHT
Neil's mother sits in the corner of the room, her eyes red
from crying. Neil's father sits at his desk. Neil enters,
still wearing his Puck costume. He looks at his crying mother.
He starts to speak, then:
Son, I am trying very hard to
understand why you insist on defying
us, but, whatever the reason, I am
not going to let you ruin your life.
Tomorrow I am withdrawing you from
Welton and enrolling you in Braden
Military School. You are going to
Harvard and you are going to be a
Fresh tears well in Neil's already bloodshot eyes.
Father, that's ten more years. Don't
you see, that's a lifetime.
You have opportunities I never dreamed
of! I won't let you squander them.
Mr. Perry walks out of the room. Neil's mother looks like
she's going to say something, then doesn't. She exits. Neil
INT. THE CAVE - NIGHT
PULL BACK FROM the lit candle of the god of the cave, past a
half-empty bottle of wine and some unused glasses to:
Todd, Meeks, and Pitts sitting huddled for warmth. Each holds
a half empty glass of wine and stares morosely into the flame,
aware that it is the symbol of Neil. After a pause, Todd
pounds the wall with his fist.
Next time I see Neil's father I'm
gonna smash him. I don't care what
happens to me!
Who knows? Who cares?
Charlie enters with Ginny.
Guys, this is Ginny Danburry. Ginny,
this is Todd, Meeks, and Pitts.
You were wonderful!
The other boys second this.
Charlie looks at Ginny adoringly. Knox enters with Chris.
Charlie looks excited for him.
Hey everybody, this is Chris.
Whoa, we've heard a lot about you!
(Knox stares at him)
I mean... You know... I mean...
Keating appears in the entrance of the cave. The moonlight
bounces off the snow from outside, illuminating him from
MEEKS, KNOX, TODD
Thanks for inviting me.
Keating sees the wine and pours some into a glass.
All drink some wine. Outside, the wind howls through the
Now we mustn't be glum. Neil wouldn't
want it that way. He did something
special tonight and worth celebrating.
Let us join with the howling night.
Keating exits the cave. The others follow. Chris and Ginny
look at Knox and Charlie.
Knox, what exactly is this?
I have to go home. Chet might call.
It's just for a little while. You
Charlie leads Ginny off. Chris reluctantly follows Knox.
You're so infuriating.
EXT. THE HILLS NEAR WELTON - NIGHT
The moon is full, the stars are out, the night is clear and
cold. Every tree is covered with icicles. A freeze has turned
the otherwise barren forest into a wintertime marvel. Mother
Nature has covered the world with sparkling diamonds. Keating
leads the group up a wooded path to a spot on a cliff
overlooking the creek. The boys and girls look around. It's
an especially scenic place. All stand in silence for a moment,
taking it in.
We used to meet here on special
occasions. Who would like to convene
"We went to the woods because we
wanted to suck all the marrow out of
life." Anybody want to read?
Keating begins gathering up some firewood. Others help.
Come on boys, don't be shy.
I have something.
The thing you've been writing?
Todd's volunteering surprises everyone. Todd steps forward
and takes out some papers from his pocket. He passes slips
of paper to each of the others.
Everybody read this between verses.
Todd opens his poem and reads.
"We are dreaming of tomorrow and
tomorrow isn't coming, We are dreaming
of a glory that we don't really want.
We are dreaming of a new day when
the new day's here already. We are
running from the battle when it's
one that must be fought."
Todd nods. All read:
"And still we sleep."
"We are listening for the calling
but never really heeding, Hoping for
the future when the future's only
plans. Dreaming of the wisdom that
we are dodging daily, Praying for a
savior when salvation's in our hands."
"And still we sleep."
"And still we dream. And still we
pray. And still we fear.
And still we sleep."
Todd closes his poem. There is a big applause.
That was great!
Todd beams, taking it all in. As he steps down, he gets
congratulatory slaps on the back. Keating smiles with great
pride at his student's progress. He plucks a ball-shaped
icicle from a tree.
I hold in my hand a crystal ball. In
it I see great things for Todd
Todd faces Mr. Keating, then suddenly, powerfully, they hug.
They break, then Keating strikes a match to light the fire.
INT. NEIL'S ROOM AT HIS PARENT'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Neil sits alone in his darkened room staring out the window.
The emotion is dried and gone from him, and all feeling is
drained from his face.
EXT. THE CLIFF ABOVE THE CREEK - NIGHT
Everybody crouches around the fire, warming themselves. After
a moment, Keating stands.
And now, "General William Booth Enters
Into Heaven," by Vachel Lindsay.
When I pause, you ask, "Are you washed
in the blood of the Lamb?"
"Booth led boldly with his big brass
"Are you washed in the blood of the
Reciting loudly, Keating takes off trotting through the woods.
All trot after him:
"The Saints smiled gravely and they
said, 'He's come.'..."
"Are you washed in the blood of the
INT. THE HALLWAY IN NEIL'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Down the hallway, in their bedroom, Mr. and Mrs. Perry get
into bed and turn off their bedroom light. A door to another
room opens and Neil walks into the hall. Unseen by his
parents, he turns a corner and moves off.
INT. MR. PERRY'S STUDY - NIGHT
Moonlight illuminates the room. Neil walks to his father's
desk. He opens the top drawer and reaches in the back, and
pulls out a key. With this, he unlocks the bottom drawer of
the desk. Neil takes the crown of flowers he wore as Puck
and puts it on his head.
EXT. THE CLIFF ABOVE THE CREEK - NIGHT
The group follows Keating through the woods, past icy trees,
over snow-covered hills, reciting Vachel Lindsay's poem.
"Walking lepers followed rank on
rank, Lurching bravos from the ditches
dank, Drabs from the alleyways and
drug fiends pale--
Minds still passion ridden, soul-powers frail:"
"Are you washed in the blood of the
INT. MR. PERRY'S BEDROOM - NIGHT
The CAMERA DOLLIES SLOWLY in on Mr. and Mrs. Perry as they
sleep soundly in their beds. The DOLLY comes to a stop on
the face of Mr. Perry. He looks up.
What was that?
That sound. Didn't you hear it?
Mr. Perry gets out of bed.
INT. THE HALLWAY IN NEIL'S HOUSE - NIGHT
Mr. Perry, in his pajamas, strides through the hallway of
his house. He enters Neil's room, then comes back out into
the hall. He heads toward the study. Behind him, putting on
her robe, follows Mrs. Perry.
EXT. NEAR A HILLTOP - NIGHT
Keating stands before a towering, frozen waterfall. This
gorgeous, icy sculpture seems to defy the laws of gravity.
The night sky is incredibly clear. The people in the group
are lit by moonlight off the snow.
"Christ came gently with a robe and
crown, For Booth the soldier, while
the throng knelt down. He saw King
Jesus. They were face to face, And
he knelt a-weeping in that holy
"Are you washed in the blood of the
INT. MR. PERRY'S STUDY - NIGHT
Mr. Perry comes in and turns on the light. All seems normal.
He's about to leave when his attention's caught by a black
object on the carpet... a revolver. Alarmed, he moves around
to the back of the desk. He sees a pale white hand and gasps:
Neil lies bloody on the floor, dead.
Mr. Perry kneels down and embraces his son. Mrs. Perry wails
a horrible wail.
EXT. THE HILLTOP - SAME
Keating stops. He turns and looks at the fields, valley, and
the magnificent sky that surrounds them. All are out of
breath, but exhilarated.
"We may or may not be the stuff of
eternity, people, but, while we are
here, we are part of a vast, awesome
He raises his hands to the heavens.
Don't waste a second of it, people.
Exalt in it.
He holds his head back and shouts to the heavens.
The others do the same. Shouts go up, cries of joy and
ecstasy. Knox looks at Chris. Tears are streaming down both
their faces. They turn to each other and kiss.
INT. TODD'S DORM ROOM - MORNING
PULL BACK from a closeup of a HAND, to reveal that it is the
hand of a sleeping Todd. The door opens and in comes Charlie,
Knox, and Meeks. They look shaken. They gently wake Todd.
Todd opens his eyes. He sits up, looking exhausted. His eyes
adjust to the light, then he closes them and lies back down.
He picks up his clock, squints at it.
Jesus, it's only eight. I gotta sleep.
He lies back down for a moment, then opens his eyes again.
He sees the other boys, standing there, staring at him. He
senses that something is wrong. He sits up.
Todd, Neil's dead. He shot himself.
Todd looks at Charlie for a minute. The other faces confirm
what Charlie is saying.
Oh my God...
He starts to vomit. As he does, he runs out of the room. The
other boys look at each other. Suddenly, Charlie breaks into
tears. He covers his face with his hands.
INT. THE DORM BATHROOM - DAY
Todd is moving back and forth, tears streaming down his face.
He hits the walls with his hand.
Someone has to know it was his father!
Neil wouldn't kill himself! He loved
You don't seriously think his
Not with the gun! Damn it, even if
the bastard didn't pull the trigger
Todd sobs. Finally he controls himself.
Even if Mr. Perry didn't shoot him,
he killed him. They have to know
He runs across the room.
He falls against the wall, sobbing uncontrollably.
INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - SAME
Keating is sitting alone at his desk in the empty classroom,
struggling to hold back emotion. He stands and walks slowly
to Neil's desk. He picks up a book, prominent there:
It's his own battered copy of Thoreau's Walden. He opens it.
Prominent are the words on the fly leaf: "Dead Poets."
Keating sits heavily into Neil's chair. From his throat comes
a sound of utter anguish.
McAllister looks into Keating's classroom from the door in
the back. From this view, Keating looks small and somehow
like a boy himself, sitting alone in the empty classroom.
INT. THE CHAPEL - LATER
The entire school is assembled. Standing along the walls are
the teachers. Keating, looking solemn, is there. Nolan enters.
Gentlemen, the death of Neil Perry
is a tragedy. He was a fine student,
one of Welton's best, and he will be
sorely missed. We have contacted
each of your parents to explain the
situation. Naturally, all are quite
concerned. At the request of Neil's
family, I intend to conduct a thorough
inquiry into this matter. Your
complete cooperation is expected.
INT. THE TRUNK ROOM - DAY
Charlie, Todd, Knox, and Pitts stand waiting in this junk-
filled room. There is a knock at the door, then Meeks enters.
I can't find him.
You told him about this meeting?
Charlie goes to the window and looks out across the lawn. In
the distance is the administration building.
That's it guys, we're all fried.
You don't know that. Maybe he...
Cameron's a fink! Why else wasn't he
at the last meeting? He's in Nolan's
office right now, finking!
But why? Why would he do that?
To save himself.
Down the hall there is the sound of a door opening. Knox
goes to the door and looks out. he sees:
Cameron entering the hallway. Knox steps out and motions for
Cameron to come into the trunk room
Cameron looks at Knox. Cameron hesitates, then enters the
trunk room. Charlie, Todd, Knox, Pitts, and Meeks stare at
What's going on guys?
You finked, didn't you, Cameron?
Screw you, dumb ass. I don't know
what you're talking about.
You just told Nolan everything about
the club is what I'm talking about!
In case you hadn't heard, Dalton,
there's something called an Honor
Code at this school. If a teacher
asks you something, you tell the
truth or you're expelled.
Charlie moves at Cameron.
Meeks and Knox restrain Charlie.
He's a rat! He's in it up to his
eyes so he ratted to save himself!
Don't touch him, Charlie. You do and
I'm out anyway!
You don't know that. Not yet!
He's right there, Charlie. And, if
you're smart, every one of you will
do exactly what I did and cooperate.
They're not after us. We're the
victims. Us and Neil.
What does that mean? Who are they
Why, Mr. Keating, of course. The
"Captain" himself. You didn't really
think he could avoid responsibility,
Mr. Keating? Responsible for Neil?
Is that what they're saying?!
He pulls himself free of Meeks and Knox's grips.
Who else do you think, dumb ass? The
administration? Mr. Perry? Keating
put us up to all this crap, didn't
he? If it wasn't for him, Neil would
be cozied up in his room right now,
studying his chemistry and dreaming
of being called doctor.
That's not true! Mr. Keating didn't
tell Neil what to do. Neil loved
Believe what you want, but I say let
Keating fry. Why ruin our lives?
Charlie bolts across the room and strikes Cameron across the
face. Cameron falls to the floor. Charlie stands over him.
You just signed your expulsion papers,
Cameron covers his bleeding nose. Charlie turns and walks
out. The others walk out too.
(shouting after them)
If you guys are smart, you'll do
exactly what I did! They know
everything anyway. You can't save
Keating but you can save yourselves!
EXT. A CEMETERY IN THE VERMONT HILLS - MORNING
It is a bleak winter's day. Gusts of wind blow bitter cold
as the school bagpiper marches before the procession, playing
a haunting lament. Neil's coffin is carried on the shoulders
of Todd, Charlie, Meeks, Pitts, Knox, and Cameron... then
laid beside a grave. Most of these boys, as well as Mr.
Keating, are having a hard time holding back the tears. Neil's
mother, veiled in black, and Mr. Perry watch, as do Nolan
and some other students and teachers.
Mourners file by and one by one put flowers on Neil's coffin.
Todd and the other boys are red faced with grief. Mr. Perry
walks up to Mr. Keating.
I hold you responsible for this!
Mr. Keating is astounded by this accusation. Mr. Perry walks
off, leaving Keating speechless.
INT. TODD'S DORM ROOM - DAY
Neil's bed is stripped and his desk is empty. Todd sits at
his window, looking across the campus at the administration
building. Momentarily, Meeks is escorted out by Dr. Hager.
Hager escorts Meeks across campus, back to the dorm.
INT. THE DORM HALLWAY - SAME
Todd peers out of the door of his room. Meeks and Hager enter
the hallway. Hager stops at the end of the hall.
Meeks walks silently back to his room. As he passes Todd, he
doesn't look at him. But tears stream down Meeks' face. Meeks
enters his room and shuts the door.
Knox comes out of his room and joins Hager at the end of the
hall. The pair exit together. Momentarily, Todd walks across
the hall to Meeks' room. Todd knocks.
Meeks, it's Todd.
MEEKS (FROM WITHIN)
Go away, I have to study.
Todd pauses, realizing what has happened.
What happened to Nuwanda?
Todd stands stunned.
What'd you tell them?
Nothing they didn't know already.
Todd turns away.
INT. TODD'S ROOM - LATER
Todd watches as Knox is escorted across campus and back to
the dorm by Dr. Hager. Again Todd peers into the hall.
INT. THE DORM HALLWAY - SAME
Knox and Hager enter. Knox's chin is quivering. He is on the
verge of a breakdown. He goes into his room and shuts the
Todd steps back into his room and leans against the wall.
The fact that Knox has been broken clearly shakes him up. He
breathes hard and looks up at the ceiling.
DR. HAGER (FROM WITHOUT)
INT. THE WELTON ACADEMY LOUNGE - DAY
This is the room with the staircase that leads up to Nolan's
office. Hager following, Todd climbs up the stairs like a
man climbing the gallows.
INT. MR. NOLAN'S OFFICE - DAY
Headmaster Nolan sits at his desk. Nearby are Todd's parents.
Todd enters with Dr. Hager and sees his parents. Todd's lip
starts to quiver.
Have a seat, Mr. Anderson.
There is an empty chair--like the prisoner's chair at an
inquisition--in front of Nolan's desk. Todd sits. He looks
at his parents who sit steely eyed. Perspiration breaks out
all across Todd's brow.
Mr. Anderson, I think we've pretty
well put together what's happened
here. You do admit to being a part
of this Dead Poets Society?
Todd looks at his parents and Nolan. He closes his eyes. He
starts to nod yes. Before he can, his father speaks.
I can't hear you, Todd.
(not much louder than
Nolan looks at Todd, then at the boy's parents. Nolan decides
not to press the issue of Todd's inaudibility. Nolan holds
up a piece of paper.
I have here a detailed description
of what went on at your meetings. It
describes how your teacher encouraged
you boys to organize the club and to
use it as a source of inspiration
for reckless, self-indulgent behavior.
It describes how Mr. Keating, both
in and out of the classroom,
encouraged Neil Perry to follow this
obsession with acting when he knew
it went directly against the explicit
orders of Neil's parents. It is Mr.
Keating's blatant abuse of his
position as a teacher that led
directly to Neil Perry's death.
Nolan hands the paper to Todd.
Read this carefully, Todd. If you
have nothing to add or amend, sign
Todd takes this paper and reads it. He spends a long time
doing so and, by the time he finishes, his hands and the
paper are shaking. Todd looks up.
(to Nolan, with great
What... what is going to happen...
to Mr. Keating?
What does that have to do with you?
(to Mr. Anderson)
It's all right. I want him to know.
We are not yet clear as to whether
Mr. Keating has broken any laws. If
he has, he will be prosecuted. What
we can do--and yours and the others'
signatures will help to guarantee it--
is see to it that Mr. Keating will
never teach again.
Todd's father stands and moves toward Todd.
I've had enough. Sign the paper,
Please, darling, for our sakes.
But... teaching is his life! It means
everything to him!
What do you care?
What do you care about me?! He cares
about me. You don't.
Todd's father stands over him and picks up the pen.
Sign the paper, Todd.
Todd shakes his head no.
I won't sign it.
It's not true! I won't sign it.
Todd's father grabs the pen and tries to put it back in Todd's
hand. Nolan stands.
That's all right! We don't need his
signature. Let him suffer the
Nolan walks around his desk to Todd.
You think you can save Mr. Keating?
You saw it, boy, we have the
signatures of all the others. But,
if you don't sign, you're on
disciplinary probation for the rest
of the year. You'll do work duty
every afternoon and every Saturday.
And, if you set foot off campus,
you'll be expelled.
Todd's parents and Mr. Nolan watch Todd, waiting for him to
change his mind. Todd thinks, then:
I won't sign.
Then I'll see you back here after
Todd stands and exits. Nolan looks at Todd's parents.
I'm sorry, Mr. Nolan. I can't help
feeling this is our fault.
(to the floor)
We should never have sent him here.
Nonsense. Boys his age are highly
impressionable. We'll bring him
INT. KEATING'S DORM ROOM - LATER
Keating sits at his desk, staring into nowhere. Out the
window, alone on the hill, the Welton bagpiper practices.
Keating watches the bagpiper for a moment, then stands and
opens his suitcase. From his bookshelf he slowly takes down
his beloved poetry--his Byron, his Whitman, his Wordsworth.
INT. THE ENGLISH CLASSROOM - DAY
Todd, Knox, Meeks, Pitts, and the rest of the class are there.
Conspicuously empty are Neil's desk and Charlie's desk. Todd
looks numb, his gaze downward, reminding us of the way he
looked when we first met him. Knox, Meeks, and Pitts look
humiliated. All of the former club members are too ashamed
of themselves to look at one another. Only Cameron looks
halfway normal. He sits studying at his desk as though nothing
The door opens. In strides Mr. Nolan. All stand. Nolan sits
at the teacher's desk. All sit down.
I will be taking over this class
through exams. We will find a
permanent English teacher during the
break. Who will tell me where you
are in the Hutton textbook?
Nolan looks around. There are no volunteers.
(softly, barely audible)
Todd looks through his books. He fumbles nervously.
I... think we...
Mr. Cameron, kindly inform me.
We skipped around a lot, sir. We
covered the romantics and most of
the chapters on post Civil War
What about the realists?
I believe we skipped most of that.
Nolan flips through the text. The door to the classroom opens.
Mr. Keating enters.
I came for my personals. Should I
wait until after class?
Get your things, Mr. Keating.
(to the class)
Now, gentlemen, turn to page fifty-
four. Mr. Cameron, read aloud the
poem by Eugene Field.
Mr. Nolan, that page has been ripped
Then borrow somebody else's book.
They're all ripped out, sir.
(staring at Keating)
What do you mean they're all ripped
Never mind, Cameron.
Nolan carries his textbook to Cameron's desk.
"Little Boy Blue", by Eugene Field:
"The little toy dog is covered with
dust, But sturdy and staunch he
stands. And the little toy soldier
is red with rust, And his musket
moulds in his hands..."
As Cameron continues reading, Keating, who is at the closet
in the corner of the room, looks out at the students. He
sees Todd, whose eyes are full of tears. He sees Knox, Meeks,
Pitts... still too ashamed to look him in the eye, but
nevertheless full of emotion. The irony of Nolan choosing
the "Little Boy Blue" is too incredible.
Keating finishes his packing. He walks across the room toward
the door. Just as Keating reaches the door, Todd can no longer
hold it in. Todd stands.
Mr. Keating, they made everybody
Quiet, Mr. Anderson!
Mr. Keating, it's true! You have to
I believe you, Todd.
Leave, Mr. Keating!
But it wasn't his fault, Mr. Nolan!
Nolan strides down the aisle and pushes Todd back into his
Sit down, Mr. Anderson! One more
outburst from you--
(turns to the class)
Or anyone else! And you are out of
He turns toward Keating, who has taken a few steps back toward
Todd, as though to help.
Leave, Mr. Keating!
The boys stare at Keating. He stares at them, taking them in
for one last time. He turns and walks toward the door.
Keating turns to look at Todd. So does everybody else. Todd
props one foot up on his desk, then stands up on it. He stands
atop his desk, holding back tears, facing Mr. Keating.
(moving at Todd)
As Nolan moves down the aisle toward Todd, Knox (whose seat
is on the other side of the room) calls Mr. Keating's name
and stands up on his desk too. Nolan turns and sees this.
Meeks musters his courage and stands on his desk. Pitts does
the same. One by one and then in groups, many others in the
class follow suit, standing on their desks in silent salute
to Mr. Keating.
Nolan, who started at Todd, then at Knox, stands motionless.
He is amazed by this overwhelming response.
Keating stands at the door, overcome with emotion.
Thank you, boys. I... thank you.
Keating looks into Todd's eyes, then into all their eyes. he
gives a nod, then exits.
ANGLE ON THE MEMBERS OF THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY STANDING ON
and finally, TODD, who is holding back tears but standing
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