by LAUREN SCHUSTER, Social Media Editor
On Monday March 11, the Manhattan College Film Society held a screening of the 1989 film “Dead Poets Society.” The screening was a part of the Film Society’s larger theme for the year, coming of age and new beginnings.
“We chose … ‘Dead Poets Society’ because it represented our theme of coming of age,” said senior student Sofia Tollinche, one of the club’s co-leaders. “The film portrays a group of boys, each of which are battling with their own story and personal struggles. These are things that many of us, as we were in high school, dealt with at the same time that we were beginning to discover ourselves as individuals.”
While most of the films throughout the year are introduced by students who are members of the Film Society, this film was introduced by Adam Koehler, P.h.D., a professor from MC’s English department.
“I think theme-wise, the Film Society’s choice to use coming of age as a way of reading the film is good, because I think as a coming of age film it does a good job of showing how young people grapple with very challenging components of being young,” Koehler said. “Suicide, overbearing families, academic struggle, those are all, as everybody in the Q and A [afterwards] was talking about almost universal struggles.”
Koehler brought an interesting and thought provoking approach to the film, addressing various issues within it, especially the idea of the teacher-savior narrative it presents.
“It’s a movie that I love it as much as I don’t,” Koehler said. “There’s a lot to talk about. There’s problems with the way it imagines the profession of teaching, I think it perpetuates a problematic teacher-savior narrative, but it also doesn’t shy away from those really hard questions that a critical pedagogy asks about its effects in the lives of students. Even if it’s a movie that is more about the way students misinterpret a valuable lesson, it’s still very moving to watch the characters struggle with that.”
During question, answer and discussion session after the film, Koehler found himself somewhat surprised that the majority of students in attendance related strongly to the film’s characters and even consider the film to be beloved.
“When I was asked to speak on the movie, I was like, ‘People still watch Dead Poets Society?’” Koehler said. “I thought this was going to be lost to the ages, but it does strike a chord, and I think one of the students here put it best when she said ‘I think it’s great to see that there’s students who still struggled, and they’re fighting the same fight we fought, but in a different social, cultural set of circumstances,’ and that makes the movie valuable in a way that I just didn’t see coming, and probably should have.”
One of the students in attendance at the screening was junior Megan Lawlor.
“Even with loving this movie, I think there’s a lot to talk about with this movie, and I like the fact that we can talk about the problematic aspects of this film while also being like, ‘Yeah, but it’s a really good movie,’” Lawlor said.
Tollinche hopes that more students will continue to enjoy attending the club’s film screenings in the future as well as use them as learning opportunities.
“We hope that students take this opportunity to further engage with films and to better understand the different themes and messages behind what these actors and directors are trying to tell us,” Tollinche said. “Films often portray more than just a story but represent bigger social and cultural issues.”