There are a lot of great performances from Robin Williams. Once you’ve seen Mrs. Doubtfire, Hook, Good Morning Vietnam, or Good Will Hunting, you don’t forget them. With so many great movies out there, it makes sense that we now live in a time where you can find one completely free to stream online, no subscription required. YouTube has now loaded up Dead Poets Society for viewers to check out for the first time, or for that 50th rewatch. When you’re ready, you can watch it for free, or you can stick with us here to read a bit more about the background on this iconic below.
Dead Poets Society released in theaters in 1989. Its one of those special movies that managed to hit well with critics and audiences, remain rewatchable decades later, become a hit at the box office, and win those big Oscars like Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Director.
The story takes place at Welton Academy, an all-male school. Robin Williams plays John Keating, a new teacher there. Ethan Hawke plays young, shy, Todd Anderson. It’s his junior year at the elite academy. He and his friends are working on things like getting their best grades and following all the rules set by their parents and the school system. Meanwhile, John Keating arrives and tells them to seize the day. The english teacher speaks of poetry and love and following their hearts. He gives them lessons where they need to tear pages from books, stand on their desks, and embrace their lives with joy and enthusiasm–things these teenage boys haven’t been doing up to this point.
Robin Williams’ character, Keating, wasn’t just a teacher, but also a former student. He was a member of something called the Dead Poets Society. When the boys find out about this, they ask him for more information, and then start their own group. There, they read poetry and begin to discover themselves. They find their own true desires. Naturally, this leads them to do things outside of the rules. When they’re caught and Robin Williams’ character is told to tell his students to get in line, the teacher instead tells his students to be aware that their actions have consequences. This doesn’t tell them to stop, it tells them to accept that they’ll be in trouble if they continue on.
The boys go on to find themselves, to stand on their desks and thank their teacher for guiding them. It also takes some turns that may have many in the audience reaching for the tissues. This Robin Williams movie is one that may fill your heart but also break it.
Ethan Hawke recently spoke about his time on the set with Robin Williams. As a teenager himself at the time, he found Williams’ antics on set to be rather annoying. The older actor didn’t stop talking and laughing and goading Ethan Hawke, who kind of hated Williams at the time. He assumed this dislike was mutual, but then the older star recommended Ethan Hawke for future work. Williams said that Hawke, in his youth and talent, was intimidating. Hawke shared that this is something he understands better now that he’s older. There is something intimidating about youth.
At the time of its release, Dead Poets Society was the kind of huge hit at the box office that would demand a sequel today. The film was made on a budget of $16.4 million. It earned back over $235 million. That kind of return would have seen a Dead Poets Society 9 happen today. For Robin Williams, it was one major box office success among many.
When Dead Poets Society hit, audiences already knew him from Good Morning, Vietnam, released in 1987. Following the 1989 release of Dead Poets Society, Robin Williams would go on to star as Genie in Aladdin, Alan Parrish in Jumanji, Chris Nielsen in What Dreams May Come, and Teddy Roosevelt in Night at the Museum. His list of performances truly goes on and on.
Right now, we’re not sure how long YouTube will keep Dead Poets Society streaming for free. You may want to watch it when you’ve got a chance and some time to sit down and remember what made it one of his best.