I’d like to see a show of hands – how many of us fell in love with poetry after watching Dead Poets Society? I know I did. Hard. I remember thinking where are these boys? These funny, sensitive boys who recite poetry and listen to Coltrane? If there were any boys like that in my junior high they were still tucked into a coltish cocoon, flinging spitballs and tripping over their feet.
Dead Poets Society introduced me to Byron, Yeats, Whitman, Tennyson, Frost. I immediately copied down Byron’s She Walks in Beauty and memorized the first few stanzas. It also showed me the magic of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which I had only seen performed by stiff and forced actors in a community theatre; never had I seen passion and wit perfected between its verses.
Admittedly, movies were the way I learned at a fairly early age about Mozart (Amadeus), about Rodin (Camille Claudel), about Henry Miller (Henry and June). My sister worked at an indy video store when she was nineteen, and at twelve and thirteen I was able to freely watch whatever piqued my interest (she was given a generous rental allowance). These artists, composers, writers are still strong in my heart today.
What are some other films that opened up avenues to the arts for you?