INT. WELTON ACADEMY HALLWAY - DAY A young boy, dressed in a school uniform and cap, fidgets as his mother adjusts his tie. MOTHER Now remember, keep your shoulders back. A student opens up a case and removes a set of bagpipes. The young boy and his brother line up for a photograph PHOTOGRAPHER Okay, put your arm around your brother. That's it. And breathe in. The young boy blinks as the flash goes off. PHOTOGRAPHR Okay, one more. An old man lights a single candle. A teacher goes over the old man's duties. TEACHER Now just to review, you're going to follow along the procession until you get to the headmaster. At that point he will indicate to you to light the candles of the boys. MAN All right boys, let's settle down. The various boys, including NEIL, KNOX, and CAMERON, line up holding banners. Ahead of them is the old man, followed by the boy with the bagpipes with the two youngest boys at the front. MAN Banners up. The boys hoist the banners and the bagpipes begin to play loudly. The small group marches out of the room and down a set of stairs into a church. The pews are filled with students and parents while the teachers, all dressed in robes, are seated at the front of the church behind the headmaster. The boys break off to either side at the front of the church. The bagpipes cease and the headmaster, MR. NOLAN, walks over to the old man carrying the candle. MR NOLAN Ladies and gentlemen, boys, the light of knowledge. An organ begins to play as the old man goes forward with shaking hands to the young boys in the front pew. Each boy is holding a candle and he bends over to light the first one. Each boy in turn lights the candle of the boy next to him. MR NOLAN One hundred years ago, in 1859, 41 boys sat in this room and were asked the same question that greets you at the start of each semester. Gentlemen, what are the four pillars? All throughout the pews, uniformed boys rise to their feet. TODD, who is not wearing a uniform, is urged by his father to stand with them. BOYS Tradition, honor, discipline, excellence. The boys quickly return to their seats. MR NOLAN In her first year, Welton Academy graduated five students. Last year we graduated fifty-one. And more than seventy-five percent of those went on to the Ivy League. This, 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. This is why we are the best preparatory school in the United States. Mr. Nolan soaks up the applause from the audience. MR NOLAN As you know, our beloved Mr. Portius of the English department retired last term. You will have the opportunity later to meet his replacement, Mr. John Keating, himself a graduate of this school. And who, for the past several years, has been teaching at the highly regarded Chester School in London. The crowd applauds once again. EXT. SCHOOL GROUNDS - DAY The school lawn is a filled with luggage, students, and parents mulling about in every direction. INT CHURCH ENTRANCE - DAY Mr Nolan stands by the entrance, speaking with each family as they leave. MR NOLAN Glad you could come by. MR ANDERSON Thrilling ceremony as usual Dr. Nolan. MR NOLAN You've been away too long. MRS ANDERSON Hello Dr. Nolan. MR NOLAN Good to have you back. MRS ANDERSON This is our youngest, Todd. MR NOLAN Mr. Anderson.You have some big shoes to fill, young man. Your brother was one of our finest. TODD Thank you. Todd and his parents leave while others file past Mr. Nolan. WOMAN Lovely ceremony. MR NOLAN Thank you. So glad you liked it. MR PERRY approaches with his son Neil. He shakes Mr. Nolan's hand. MR PERRY Gale MR NOLAN Tom MR PERRY Good to see you again. NEIL Hello Mr. Nolan. MR NOLAN Neil. We expect great things from you this year. NEIL Thank you, sir. MR PERRY Well he won't disappoint us. Right Neil? NEIL I'll do my best sir. EXT SCHOOL GROUNDS - DAY A bell tolls. Parents begin wishing their boys farewell. FATHER Hey, come on son. MOTHER Chin up. FATHER No tears now. BOY Okay. MOTHER Chin up. Another boy hugs his mother. BOY I don't want to go here. MOTHER You be a good boy and do your lessons. EXT SCHOOL GROUNDS - DAY Neil emerges from a building and sees Todd. NEIL Hey, I hear we're gonna be roommates. He shakes Todd's hand. NEIL I'm Neil Perry. TODD Todd Anderson. NEIL Why'd you leave Balincrest? TODD My brother went here. NEIL Oh, so you're that Anderson. INT DORMATORY - DAY DR. HAGER is standing in his room doorway while SPAZ and his father are going over some last minute precautions over the boy's allergies. Spaz's father hands Hager various bottles. FATHER This is for sinuses. Oh, and if he can't swallow you give him one of these. And if he had trouble breathing you can give him some of those. HAGER All right fine. Dr. Hager takes the bottles and quickly backs into his room, shutting the door. FATHER (to son) Did you remember your vaporizer? SPAZ Yes, I put it in my room. Spaz's father tries to say something else to Dr. Hager but realizes he has already gone. INT HALLWAY - DAY Neil pushes his way through a crowd of boys, carrying two suitcases. As he enters his room, Knox quickly passes by. KNOX Hey, how's it going Neil? NEIL Hey Knox. Cameron comes by and leans against the doorway. CAMERON Neil, study group tonight? NEIL Yeah, sure. CAMERON Business as usual, huh? Hey, I hear you got the new kid. Looks like a stiff! He begins laughing when he notices Todd coming into the room. CAMERON Oops! Cameron quickly leaves. Neil tries to keep from laughing as Todd enters the room and sets his luggage down on his bed. NEIL Listen, don't mind Cameron. He was born with his foot in his mouth. You know what I mean? He pulls some papers from his blazer pocket and playfully whacks Todd across the back with it. CHARLIE comes to the door with a smug expression on his face. Knox and MEEKS are close behind him. He points at Neil CHARLIE Rumor has it, you did summer school. NEIL Yep. Chemistry. My father thought I should get ahead. How was your summer Slick? CHARLIE Keen. The boys enter the room. Charlie turns around and looks at Meeks who is just entering. CHARLIE Meeks. Door. Closed. MEEKS Yes sir. NEIL Gentlemen, what are the four pillars? BOYS Travesty. Horror. Decadence. Excrement. Charlie makes himself comfortable on Neil's bed and lights up a cigarette. Meanwhile, Todd is by his bed unpacking his luggage. CHARLIE Okay, study group. Meeks aced Latin. I didn't quite flunk English. So, if you want, we've got our study group. NEIL Sure. Cameron asked me too. Anyone mind including him? CHARLIE Hmm, what's his specialty, boot-licking? NEIL Come on, he's your roommate. CHARLIE That's not my fault. Meeks seems to notice Todd for the first time. MEEKS Oh, I'm sorry, my name is Steven Meeks. Neil quickly gets up from his spot by the window. NEIL Oh, this is Todd Anderson. Todd turns around and shakes hands with Meeks. MEEKS Nice to meet you. TODD Nice to meet you. CHARLIE Charlie Dalton. Charlie continues to lay on the bed, looking smug. Knox extends a hand. KNOX Knox Overstreet. NEIL Todd's brother was Jeffrey Anderson. CHARLIE Oh yeah, sure. Valedictorian. National merit scholar. MEEKS Oh well, welcome to Hell-ton. CHARLIE It's every bit as tough as they say, unless you're a genius like Meeks. MEEKS He flatters me. That's why I help him with Latin. CHARLIE And English, and Trig. Charlie begins coughing. There is a knock at the door. Charlie quickly stamps out his cigarette on the floor and Neil tries to wave the smoke from the air. NEIL It's open. The door opens and Mr. Perry walks into the room. Neil quickly rises from the window. NEIL Father, I thought you'd gone. The other boys stand up when he enters. BOYS Mr. Perry. MR PERRY Keep your seats fellows, keep your seats. Neil, I've just spoken to Mr. Nolan. I think that you're taking too many extra curricular activities this semester, and I've decided that you should drop the school annual. NEIL But I'm the assistant editor this year. MR PERRY Well I'm sorry Neil. NEIL But Father, I can't. It wouldn't be fair. MR PERRY Fellas, would you excuse us for a moment? Mr. Perry walks towards the door and Neil hesitantly follows. Mr. Perry pauses by the door and smiles to the other boys. INT. HALLWAY - DAY The smile has gone from Mr. Perry's face. He grabs a hold of Neil's arm. MR PERRY Don't you ever dispute me in public. Do you understand? NEIL Father, I wasn't disputing- MR PERRY After you've finished medical school and you're on your own, then you can do as you damn well please. But until then, you do as I tell you. Is that clear? NEIL Yes sir. I'm sorry. MR PERRY You know how much this means to your mother, don't you? NEIL Yes sir. You know me, always taking on too much. MR PERRY Well, that's my boy. Now listen, you need anything, you let us know, huh? NEIL Yes sir. Mr. Perry slaps his son on the shoulder and leaves. Neil leans his head back against the wall as the other boys emerge from the room. CHARLIE Why doesn't he let you do what you want? KNOX Yeah Neil, tell him off. It couldn't get any worse. NEIL Oh, that's rich. Like you guys tell your parents off, Mr. Future Lawyer and Mr. Future Banker. CHARLIE Okay, so I don't like it any more than you do. NEIL Well just don't tell me how to talk to my father. You guys are the same way. KNOX All right, all right, Jesus. So what are you going to do? NEIL What I have to do. Drop the annual. CHARLIE Well I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. It's just a bunch of jerks trying to impress Nolan. NEIL I don't care. I don't give a damn about any of it. MEEKS Well, uh, Latin, eight o' clock in my room? NEIL Yes. MEEKS Todd, you're welcome to join us. KNOX Yeah, come along pal. Todd looks up from his desk where he is setting his alarm clock. TODD Thanks. EXT. FIELDS - DAY A clock bell chimes five o'clock. Enormous flocks of birds, apparently disturbed by the noise, take to the sky. INT. STAIRCASE - DAY The sound of squawking birds merges into the sound of noisy boys as they descend the stairs in a long spiralling line. MR. MCALLISTER tries to make it upstairs against the steady stream. MCALLISTER Slow down boys, slow down you horrible phalanx of pubescense. INT CHEMISTRY LAB - DAY A teacher walks up and down the aisles, handing out books. TEACHER Pick three laboratory experiments from the project list and report on them every five weeks. The first twenty questions at the end of chapter one are due tomorrow. The students let out a collective groan. INT. LATIN CLASSROOM - DAY Mr. McAllister paces back and forth in front of the blackboard and gets the students to repeat everything he says. MCALLISTER (students repeat after each word.) Agricolam. Agricola. Agricolae. Agricolarum. Agricolis. Agricolas. Agrilcolis. Again, please. Agricola. INT. MATH CLASSROOM - DAY Dr. Hager walks up the classroom aisles with his arms behind his back. HAGER Your study of trigonometry requires absolute precision. Anyone failing to turn in any homework assignment will be penalized one point off their final grade. Let me urge you now not to test me on this point. INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY Students enter Keating's classroom, talking and acting up. Keating glances out from his room off to one side. KNOX Hey Spaz, Spaz. Spaz turns around in time to be hit by a ball of crumpled up paper while Cameron smacks him on the shoulder. CAMERON Brain damage. The students quickly quiet down as Keating emerges from the other room, whistling the 1812 Overture. He walks up the length of the classroom and out the door without a word. The students look around at one another, uncertain of what to do. Keating pokes his head back in the doorway. KEATING Well come on. He gestures them to follow and the students, after some hesitation, grab their books and follow Keating out into the main entranceway. INT. ENTRANCEWAY - DAY Keating stands before the school's trophy cabinets and waits until all the boys arrive. KEATING "Oh Captain, My Captain" who knows where that comes from? Todd looks up as if he knows the answer, but says nothing. Spaz blows his nose a little too close to Meeks for his liking. KEATING Not a clue? It's from a poem by Walt Whitman about Mr. Abraham Lincoln. Now in this class you can call me Mr. Keating. Or, if you're slightly more daring, Oh Captain, My Captain. The students laugh slightly. KEATING Now let me dispel a few rumors so they don't fester into facts. Yes, I too attended Hell-ton and survived. And no, at that time I was not the mental giant you see before you. I was the intellectual equivalent of a ninety-eight pound weakling. I would go to the beach and people would kick copies of Byron in my face. The boys laugh once again, while Cameron, obviously trying to write all this down, looks around confusedly. Keating looks down at papers in his hand. KEATING Now, Mr… Pitts. That's a rather unfortunate name. Mr. Pitts, where are you? Pitts raises his hand while everyone around him snickers. KEATING Mr. Pitts, would you open your hymnal to page 542 and read the first stanza of the poem you find there? PITTS "To the virgins, to make much of time"? KEATING Yes, that's the one. Somewhat appropriate, isn't it. PITTS "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying." KEATING Thank you Mr. Pitts. "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may." The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem. Now who knows what that means? Meeks immediately puts his hand up. MEEKS Carpe Diem. That's "seize the day." KEATING Very good, Mr.- MEEKS Meeks. KEATING Meeks. Another unusual name. Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines? CHARLIE Because he's in a hurry. KEATING No, ding! Keating slams his hand down on an imaginary buzzer. KEATING Thank you for playing anyway. Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die. Keating turns towards the trophy cases, filled with trophies, footballs, and team pictures. KEATING Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You've walked past them many times. I don't think you've really looked at them. The students slowly gather round the cases and Keating moves behind them. KEATING They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlmen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. The boys lean in and Keating hovers over Cameron's shoulder. KEATING (whispering in a gruff voice) Carpe. Cameron looks over his shoulder with an aggravated expression on his face. KEATING Hear it? (whispering again) Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary. The boys stare at the faces in the cabinet in silence. EXT. SCHOOL STEPS - DAY The boys emerge from the school, loaded down with numerous books. PITTS That was weird. NEIL But different. KNOX Spooky if you ask me. CAMERON Think he'll test us on that stuff? CHARLIE Come on Cameron, don't you get anything? CAMERON What? What? INT. LOCKER ROOM - EVENING A coach sticks his head around the corner into the room. COACH Let's go boys, hustle up in here. That means you Dalton. Meeks emerges from the showers, drying himself off. MEEKS Okay, who's up for a trig study group tonight guys? PITTS Me. NEIL Me. CHARLIE (still annoyed by what the coach said) What? KNOX I can't make it guys. I have to have dinner at the Danburry's house. PITTS The Danburry's? Who are the Danburry's? CAMERON Big alumns. How'd you swing that? KNOX Friends of my Dad's. They're probably in their nineties or something. CHARLIE Ooh! NEIL Anything's better than Hell-ton hash. CHARLIE I'll second that. KNOX Yeah we'll see. Neil approaches Todd, who's been sitting by the window staring down at the floor. Neil snaps his fingers to get Todd's attention. NEIL Hey, you coming to the study group tonight? TODD Uh, no, no I, uh, I've got some history I wanna do. NEIL Suit yourself. INT. TODD'S ROOM - EVENING Todd is seated at his desk. He scrawls "CARPE DIEM" across a blank page of his notebook. He looks at it for a few moments before crumpling it up and opening up his Chemistry book. INT. ENTRANCEWAY - NIGHT Hager comes down the stairs. Knox is looking at one of the old class photos on the walls. HAGER Ready Overstreet? Knox reluctantly follows after Dr. Hager. KNOX Ready to go sir. EXT. ROAD - NIGHT The car leaves Welton and drives towards the Danburry's house. INT / EXT DANBURRY'S HOUSE - NIGHT The doorbell rings. MRS DANBURRY (O.S.) Chet, can you get that? CHET (O.S.) I can't, Mom. CHRIS (O.S.) I'll get it. The door opens and Knox is awe-struck by the beautiful girl (CHRIS) who has answered the door. CHRIS Can I help you? Knox manages to break out of his daze. KNOX Hi. Knox Overstreet. Uh, Dr. Hager. CHRIS Hi. KNOX This is the Danburry's, right? CHRIS Are you here to see Chet? KNOX Mrs. Danburry? Chris begins to laugh as Mrs. Danburry arrives behind her. CHRIS No. MRS DANBURRY Sorry. Thank you Chris. I'm Mrs. Danburry. You must be Knox. KNOX Yes. MRS DANBURRY (to Dr. Hager) Back by nine. (to Knox) Please come in. CHET (O.S.) Chris, come on, what are you doing? CHRIS Chet, I'm coming. Knox enters the house, his mind still hung up on Chris as MR DANBURRY comes out of the living room to meet him. MR DANBURRY Knox. How are you? Joe Danburry. KNOX Nice to meet you sir. MR DANBURRY Well he's the spitting image of his father, isn't he. How is he? Come on in. CHET (O.S.) Chris! KNOX He's great. He just did a big case for GM. CHRIS (O.S.) I'm coming. MR DANBURRY I know where you're headed, like father like son, huh? INT. STUDENT LOUNGE - NIGHT Several students are throwing darts at a small rubber skeleton hanging from the bulletin board. Various students are studying and playing games. Meeks and Pitts are sitting at one table working on their "hi-fi system". Meeks is waving an antenna around with no luck. Pitts points out to him that he forgot to plug it in. Neil, Cameron, and Charlie are working on their trig homework. CAMERON Just replace these numbers here with "x", for "x" and "y". NEIL Of course. CAMERON Of course, so what's the problem? Charlie enters the room and closes the door behind him, leaning up against it heavily. CHARLIE How was dinner? KNOX Huh? CHARLIE How was dinner? KNOX Terrible. Awful. He leaves the door and sits down with the other boys. CHARLIE Why? What happened? KNOX Tonight, I met the most beautiful girl in my entire life. NEIL Are you crazy? What's wrong with that? KNOX She's practically engaged. To Chet Danburry. CHARLIE That guy could eat a football. PITTS That's too bad. KNOX Too bad? It's worse than too bad Pitsie, it's a tragedy. A girl this beautiful in love with such a jerk. PITTS All the good ones go for jerks, you know that. CAMERON Ahh, forget her. Open your trig book and try and figure out problem five. KNOX I can't just forget her Cameron. And I can't think about trig. The radio Meeks and Pitts were working on begins letting out a high pitched hum. PITTS We got it. MEEKS Holy cow. Mr. Hager walks into the room. HAGER All right gentlemen, five minutes. Let's go. The students quickly pack up their gear and prepare to leave. Pitts tries to hide the radio in his lap. Charlie leans in close to Knox. CHARLIE Did you see her naked? KNOX Very funny Dalton. HAGER That wouldn't be a radio in your lap, would it Mr. Pitts? PITTS No sir. Science experiment, radar. Meeks holds up the antenna as if demonstrating it. INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY Keating sits at his desk at the front of the classroom and opens up one of his books. KEATING Gentlemen, open your text to page twenty-one of the introduction. Mr. Perry, will you read the opening paragraph of the preface, entitled "Understanding Poetry"? NEIL Understanding Poetry, by Dr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. To fully understand poetry, we must first be fluent with its meter, rhyme, and figures of speech. Then ask two questions: One, how artfully has the objective of the poem been rendered, and two, how important is that objective. Question one rates the poem's perfection, question two rates its importance. And once these questions have been answered, determining a poem's greatest becomes a relatively simple matter. Keating gets up from his desk and prepares to draw on the chalk board. NEIL If the poem's score for perfection is plotted along the horizontal of a graph, and its importance is plotted on the vertical, then calculating the total area of the poem yields the measure of its greatness. Keating draws a corresponding graph on the board and the students dutifully copy it down. NEIL A sonnet by Byron may score high on the vertical, but only average on the horizontal. A Shakespearean sonnet, on the other hand, would score high both horizontally and vertically, yielding a massive total area, thereby revealing the poem to be truly great. As you proceed through the poetry in this book, practice this rating method. As your ability to evaluate poems in this matter grows, so will - so will your enjoyment and understanding of poetry. Neil sets the book down and takes off his glasses. The student sitting across from him is discretely trying to eat. Keating turns away from the chalkboard with a smile. KEATING Excrement. That's what I think of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. We're not laying pipe, we're talking about poetry. Cameron looks down at the graph he copied into his notes and quickly scribbles it out. KEATING I mean, how can you describe poetry like American Bandstand? I like Byron, I give him a 42, but I can't dance to it. Charlie suddenly appear to become interested in the class. KEATING Now I want you to rip out that page. The students look at Keating as if he has just gone mad. KEATING Go on, rip out the entire page. You heard me, rip it out. Rip it out! Charlie looks around at the others. He then looks down at his own notes, which consists of drawing breasts. KEATING Go on, rip it out. Charlie rips the page out and holds it up. KEATING Thank you Mr. Dalton. Gentlemen, tell you what, don't just tear out that page, tear out the entire introduction. I want it gone, history. Leave nothing of it. Rip it out. Rip! Begone J. Evans Pritchard, Ph.D. Rip, shred, tear. Rip it out. I want to hear nothing but ripping of Mr. Pritchard. Meeks looks around reluctantly and then finally begins tearing out pages. KEATING We'll perforate it, put it on a roll. Keating sees Cameron still hesitating. KEATING It's not the bible, you're not going to go to hell for this. Go on, make a clean tear, I want nothing left of it. Keating goes over to his room. Cameron turns around to Neil. CAMERON We shouldn't be doing this. NEIL Rip, rip, rip! Neil makes Cameron turn back around. KEATING (O.S.) Rip it out, rip! From outside the classroom, Mr. McAllister hears all the noise and sees all the students ripping out the pages. He bursts into the room. MCALLISTER What the hell is going on here? The boys all turn around in shock. Charlie stuffs a crumpled page into his mouth. Keating emerges from his room with a waste paper basket. KEATING I don't hear enough rips. MCALLISTER Mr. Keating. KEATING Mr. McAllister. MCALLISTER I'm sorry, I- I didn't know you were here. KEATING I am. MCALLISTER Ahh, so you are. Excuse me. Mr. McAllister slowly backs out of the classroom. KEATING Keep ripping gentlemen. This is a battle, a war. And the casualties could be your hearts and souls. Keating holds out the basket to Charlie who spits out a wad of paper. KEATING Thank you Mr. Dalton. Armies of academics going forward, measuring poetry. No, we will not have that here. No more of Mr. J. Evans Pritchard. Now in my class you will learn to think for yourselves again. You will learn to savor words and language. No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world. I see that look in Mr. Pitt's eye, like nineteenth century literature has nothing to do with going to business school or medical school. Right? Maybe. Mr. Hopkins, you may agree with him, thinking "Yes, we should simply study our Mr. Pritchard and learn our rhyme and meter and go quietly about the business of achieving other ambitions." I have a little secret for ya. Huddle up. Huddle up! The boys get up from their seats and gather around Keating in the center of the class. KEATING We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are all noble pursuits, and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman: "O me, o life of the questions of these recurring, of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities filled with the foolish. 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. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. Keating looks up at Todd. Keating What will your verse be? INT. HEAD OF CAFETERIA - DAY The cafeteria is filled with students and teachers standing before the tables saying grace. ALL For what we are about to receive, may the Lord make us truly grateful. Amen. Mr. Keating and Mr. McAllister are seated next to one another at the table. MCALLISTER Quite an interesting class you gave today, Mr. Keating. KEATING I'm sorry if I shocked you, Mr. McAllister. MCALLISTER Oh, there's no need to apologize. It was very fascinating, misguided though it was. KEATING You think so? MCALLISTER You take a big risk by encouraging them to be artists John. When they realize they're not Rembrandts, Shakespeares or Mozarts, they'll hate you for it. KEATING We're not talking artists George, we're talking free thinkers. MCALLISTER Free thinkers at seventeen? KEATING Funny, I never pegged you as a cynic. MCALLISTER (taken aback by the comment) Not a cynic, a realist. Show me the heart unfettered by foolish dreams, and I'll show you a happy man. KEATING But only in their dreams can man be truly free. 'Twas always thus, and always thus will be. MCALLISTER Tennyson? KEATING No, Keating. Keating winks and Mr. McAllister can't help but laugh. INT. CAFETERIA TABLE - DAY Neil joins the others at the table. He pulls out a yearbook. NEIL Hey, I found his senior annual in the library. He hands the annual over to Cameron who laughs at the younger picture of Keating. NEIL Listen to this, captain of the soccer team, editor of the school annual, Cambridge bound, Thigh man, and the Dead Poets Society. CAMERON (reading from the annual) Man most likely to do anything. CHARLIE Thigh man. Mr. K was a hell-raiser. KNOX What's the Dead Poets Society? NEIL I don't know. MEEKS Is there a picture in the annual? NEIL Nothing. No other mention of it. MR. NOLAN (O.S.) That boy there, see me after lunch. Cameron quickly puts the annual away and the others all return to their meal. EXT. WELTON GROUNDS - DAY Keating is walking down towards the lake, whistling the same tune as before. The boys emerge from the building and chase after him. NEIL Mr. Keating? Mr. Keating? Sir? Oh Captain, My Captain? Keating immediately turns around. KEATING Gentlemen. NEIL We were just looking in your old annual. He hands Keating the annual and Keating looks at his old photograph. KEATING Oh my God. No, that's not me. Stanley "The Tool" Wilson- Keating crouches down and continues looking through the book. KEATING God. Neil crouches down next to Keating. NEIL What was the Dead Poets Society? KEATING I doubt the present administration would look too favorably upon that. NEIL Why? What was it? KEATING Gentlemen, can you keep a secret? NEIL Sure. The other boys crouch down around Keating. KEATING The Dead Poets were dedicated to sucking the marrow out of life. That's a phrase from Thoreau that we'd invoke at the beginning of each meeting. You see we'd gather at the old Indian cave and take turns reading from Thoreau, Whitman, Shelley; the biggies. Even some of our own verse. And in the enchantment of the moment we'd let poetry work its magic. KNOX You mean it was a bunch of guys sitting around reading poetry? KEATING No Mr. Overstreet, it wasn't just "guys", we weren't a Greek organization, we were romantics. We didn't just read poetry, we let it drip from our tongues like honey. Spirits soared, women swooned, and gods were created, gentlemen, not a bad way to spend an evening eh? Thank you Mr. Perry for this trip down amnesia lane. Burn that, especially my picture. Keating hands the annual back and walks away, whistling once again. Neil remains crouched. NEIL Dead Poets Society. CAMERON What? The school bells begin ringing and everyone heads back towards the school. Neil stands up. NEIL I say we go tonight. CHARLIE Tonight? CAMERON Wait a minute. PITTS Where's this cave he's talking about? NEIL It's beyond the stream. I know where it is. PITTS That's miles. CAMERON Sounds boring to me. CHARLIE Don't go. CAMERON You know how many de-merits we're talking Dalton CHARLIE So don't come, please. CAMERON Look, all I'm saying is that we have to be careful, we can't get caught. CHARLIE No shit, Sherlock. HAGER (yelling) You boys there, hurry up. Neil turns around and faces the other boys. NEIL All right, who's in? CAMERON Come on Neil, Hager's right- NEIL Forget Hager, no. Who's in? CHARLIE I'm in. HAGER (O.S.) I'm warning you, move. CAMERON Me too. PITTS I don't know Neil NEIL What? Pitts- CHARLIE Pitsie, come on. MEEKS His grades are hurting Charlie. NEIL You can help him Meeks. PITTS What is this, a midnight study group? NEIL Forget it Pitts, you're coming. Meeks, are your grades hurting too? MEEKS I'll try anything once. CHARLIE Except sex. MEEKS Ha ha ha. CAMERON I mean as long as we're careful. The boys run into the building. CHARLIE What about you Knox? KNOX I don't know Charlie. CHARLIE Come on Knox, it'll help you get Chris. KNOX Yeah? How? CHARLIE Women swoon. Charlie laughs and runs inside. Knox chases after him. KNOX But why do they swoon? Charlie, tell me why they swoon. Charlie! INT LIBRARY - DAY The boys are all gathered around one of the tables with a map laid out on it. NEIL (whispering) Okay, follow the stream to the waterfall. It's right there. It's got to be on the banks. CAMERON I don't know, it's starting to sound dangerous. CHARLIE Well, why don't you stay home? MCALLISTER For God's sake stop chattering and sit down. The boys take their seats once again and Neil goes over and sits next to Todd, who is sitting by himself. NEIL Todd, are you coming tonight? TODD No. NEIL Why not? God, you were there. You heard Keating. Don't you want to do something about it? TODD Yes, but- NEIL But? But what? TODD Keating said that everybody took turns reading and I don't want to do that. NEIL Gosh, you really have a problem with that, don't you? TODD N- no, I don't have a problem. Neil, I just- I just don't want to do it, okay? NEIL All right. What if you didn't have to read? What if you just came and listened? TODD That's not how it works. NEIL Forget how it works. What if - what if they said it was okay? TODD What? What are you gonna do, go up and ask them? Neil shrugs. TODD No. No, Neil. NEIL I'll be right back. TODD Neil, Neil! Neil gets up and rejoins the others. McAllister hears the boys whispering again. MCALLISTER Oh shut up, will you. INT BATHROOM - NIGHT Various boys are crowded around the sinks getting ready for bed. Someone is playing snake charmer music on a kazoo while someone else is bothering Spaz with a red sock puppet acting like a snake. SPAZ That's my- that's for my asthma, okay. Could you give that back please? Could you give that back? BOY What's the matter? Don't you like snakes? Neil enters and taps Todd on the shoulder. NEIL You're in. SPAZ Get away from me, okay? BOY Spaz, why don't you check your pocket, huh? Come on Spaz I have to brush my teeth SPAZ Get a- get off, Hager walks past the bathroom and into his room. HAGER Cut out that racket in there. The kazoo player lets out a rude squeek before finally stopping. Hager glares at them for a moment. INT NEIL'S BEDROOM - NIGHT Neil stands in his doorway. He looks across the hall to the other room where Cameron and Charlie are standing. Cameron gives a thumbs up. Neil closes his room door and takes out his cloak and a flashlight. Setting the flashlight down on the desk, he notices a worn book, "Five Centuries of Verse", sitting there. Opening it up, he sees John Keating's name at the top followed by "Dead Poets". Below the title of the book, is written: "To Be Read At The Opening of D.P.S. Meetings." Along with several lines from Thoreau, beginning with "I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately…" INT STAIRWAY - NIGHT The shadows of hooded figures can be seen moving throughout the darkened halls. INT HAGER'S ROOM - NIGHT Hager hears a dog barking. INT HALLWAY - NIGHT Someone drops a number of dog biscuits by the dog's feet. He stops barking and immediately begins gobbling them down. Hager looks out into the hallway with his flashlight but sees nothing. EXT SCHOOL GROUNDS - NIGHT The boys quietly leave the building and set off running across the fields towards the woods. EXT WOODS - NIGHT The boys search about the trees trying to find the cave. Meeks is searching around when Charlie leaps up behind Meeks in the dark shining the flashlight up at his own face and grabs Meeks by the shoulder. CHARLIE Arrr, I'm a dead poet. MEEKS Aww, Charlie. CHARLIE (laughing) Guys, over here. MEEKS You're funny. You're real funny. INT CAVE - NIGHT The boys are trying to start a fire. The cave is quickly filling up with smoke. MEEKS It's too wet. CHARLIE God, are you trying to smoke us out of here? MEEKS No, no, the smoke's going right up this opening. Pitts tries to stand up and slams his head into the low rock ceiling. He lets out a yell while the others laugh. NEIL You okay? PITTS Oh God. Clowns. NEIL All right, all right, forget the fire. Let's go gentlemen. Neil stands before the others with the book in hand, and takes a drag on a cigarette. NEIL I hereby reconvene the Dead Poets Society. The boys cheer. NEIL Welton chapter. The meetings will be conducted by myself and the other new initiates now present. Todd Anderson, because he prefers not to read, will keep minutes of the meetings. I'll now read the traditional opening message by society member Henry David Thoreau. "I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life." CHARLIE I'll second that. NEIL "To put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived. Several boys whistle softly in reaction to the poem. NEIL And Keating's marked a bunch of other pages. Neil begins flipping through the book. CHARLIE All right, intermission. Dig deep right here. Right here, lay it down CAMERON On the mud? We're gonna put our food on the mud? CHARLIE Meeks, put your coat down. Picnic blanket. MEEKS Yes sir, use Meeks' coat. CHARLIE Don't keep anything back either. You guys are always bumming my smokes. Meeks lays his coat down and everyone dumps their food on it. Amongst the pile are chocolate chip cookies, a box of raisins, a few apples, an orange, and half a roll. NEIL Raisins? KNOX Yuck. CHARLIE Wait a minute, who gave us half a roll? PITTS (talking with his mouth full) I'm eating the other half. CHARLIE Come on. PITTS You want me to put it back? INT CAVE - NIGHT Neil, lit up by a flashlight, begins to tell everyone a story. NEIL It was a dark and rainy night, and this old lady, who had a passion for jigsaw puzzles, sat by herself in her house at her table to complete a new jigsaw puzzle. But as she pieced the puzzle together, she realized, to her astonishment, that the image that was formed was her very own room. And the figure in the center of the puzzle, as she completed it, was herself. And with trembling hands, she placed the last four pieces and stared in horror at the face of a demented madman at the window. The last thing that this old lady ever heard was the sound of breaking glass. BOYS Ohhh… no… NEIL This is true, this is true. CAMERON I've got one that's even better than that. CHARLIE Ha! CAMERON I do. There's a young, married couple, and they're driving through the forest at night on a long trip. And they run out of gas, and there's a madman on the- CHARLIE The thing with the hand- All the boys react, recalling the story and miming the scraping on the roof of the car. CAMERON I love that story. CHARLIE I told you that one. CAMERON You did not. I got that in camp in sixth grade. CHARLIE When were you in six, last year? As everyone's voices begin to calm down, Pitts begins reading from the book. PITTS "In a mean abode in the shanking road, lived a man named William Bloat. Now, he had a wife, the plague of his life, who continually got his goat. And one day at dawn, with her nightshift on, he slit her bloody throat." The boys laugh. PITTS Oh, and it gets worse. CHARLIE You want to hear a real poem? Meeks hands Charlie the book but he shoves it away. CHARLIE All right? No, I don't need it. You take it. MEEKS What, did you bring one? NEIL You memorized a poem? CHARLIE I didn't memorize a poem. Move up. Neil moves to the side as Charlie stands and takes his spot. MEEKS An original piece by Charlie Dalton. KNOX An original piece. PITTS Take center stage. NEIL You know this is history. Right? This is history. Charlie clears his throat and pulls out a page from a magazine and slowly unfolds it, revealing a Playboy centerfold (Elaine Reynolds, Miss October, 1959) MEEKS Oh, wow. CAMERON Where did you get that? CHARLIE Teach me to love? Go teach thyself more wit. I, chief professor, am of it. Neil gets up and looks over Charlie's shoulder to see what he is reading. CHARLIE The god of love, if such a thing there be, may learn to love from me. Charlie winks at the guys and they clap and cheer. NEIL Wow! Did you write that? Charlie turns over the centerfold to show where he had written down the poem. CHARLIE Abraham Cowley. Okay, who's next? Neil sits reading from the book by flashlight. NEIL Alfred Lord Tennyson. Come my friends, 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset. And though we are not now that strength which in old days Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;-- One equal temper of heroic hearts, Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will. To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield. Meeks takes center stage and begins reading a poem like he is performing a chant. MEEKS Then I had religion, then I had a vision. I could not turn from their revel in derision. Then I saw the Congo creeping through the black, cutting through the forest with a golden track. Then I saw the Congo creeping through the black- CHARLIE Meeks, Meeks. MEEKS ...cutting through the forest with a golden track. Then I saw the Congo creeping through the black, cutting through the forest with a golden track. Knox picks up a metal container and begins using it as a drum. The other boys stand and begin going in a circle, making music with sticks of wood, combs, etc. Then I saw the Congo creeping through the black, cutting through the forest with a golden track. Then I saw the Congo creeping through the black, cutting through the forest with a golden track. BOYS Then I saw the Congo creeping through the black, cutting through the forest with... The boys continue to chant the chorus as they emerge from the cave. EXT. CAMPUS - NIGHT The clock tolls two as the boys silently run back to their dorm. INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY Keating is walking to the front of the classroom filled with students. KEATING A man is not very tire, he is exhausted. And don't use very sad, use- He points to the back of the classroom. KEATING Come on, Mr. Overstreet, you twerp, KNOX Morose? KEATING Exactly! Morose. Now, language was developed for one endeavor, and that is? Mr. Anderson? Come on! Are you a man or an amoeba? Keating stands before Todd's desk. Todd looks up nervously but says nothing. Keating paused for a moment before looking away. KEATING Mr. Perry? NEIL Uh, to communicate. KEATING No! To woo women. Today we're going to be talking about William Shakespeare. The class lets out a collective sigh. BOY Oh, God! KEATING I know. A lot of you looked forward to this about as much as you look forward to root canal work. We're gonna talk about Shakespeare as someone who writes something very interesting. Now, many of you have seen Shakespeare done very much like this: Keating holds out his right arm dramtically and begins to speak in an exaggerated British accent. "O Titus, bring your friend hither." But if any of you have seen Mr. Marlon Brando, you know, Shakespeare can be different. "Friend, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears." You can also imagine, maybe, John Wayne as Macbeth going, "Well, is this a dagger I see before me?" INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY The students are all seated together near the front of the room as Keating reads from a book. KEATING "Dogs, sir? Oh, not just now. I do enjoy a good dog once in a while, sir. You can have yourself a three-course meal from one dog. Start with your canine crudites, go to your Fido flambe for main course and for dessert, a Pekingese parfait. And you can pick your teeth with a little paw." INT. KEATING'S CLASSROOM - DAY The students are all back in their normal seats and Keating leaps up onto his desk. KEATING Why do I stand up here? Anybody? CHARLIE To feel taller. KEATING No! Keating rings the bell on his desk with his foot KEATING Thank you for playing, Mr. Dalton. I stand upon my desk to remind yourself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. Keating glances around the classroom from atop the desk. KEATING You see, the world looks very different from up here. You don't believe me? Come see for yourself. Come on. Come on! Charlie and Neil quickly rise from their seats to go to the front of the classroom. The rest of the class follows them. While Keating continues speaking, Neil and Charlie join him on the desk and then Keating jumps down. KEATING Just when you think you know something, you have to look at it in another way. Even though it may seem silly or wrong, you must try! Now, when you read, don't just consider what the author thinks. Consider what you think. KEATING Boys, you must strive to find your own voice. Because 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." Don't be resigned to that. Break out! Keating notices Spaz and another boy leaving the desk immediately. KEATING Don't just walk off the edge like lemmings. Look around you. The school bell rings as the boys continue to climb onto the desk. Keating begins to gather up his stuff. The clock begins to toll as Keating walks to the back of the class. KEATING There! There you go, Mr. Priske. Thank you! Yes! Dare to strike out and find new ground. Now, in addition to your essays, I would like you to compose a poem of your own, an original work. The students begin to groan. Keating begins flickering the lights off and on while chanting ominously. KEATING That's right! You have to deliver it aloud in front of the class on Monday. Bonne chance, gentlemen. Keating steps out into the hall before quickly peeking back in once again. Todd is the last one to stand on the desk and is about to jump off. KEATING Mr. Anderson? Don't think that I don't know that this assignment scares the hell out of you, you mole. Keating flicks the light off, leaving Todd to jump down in the darkness as the students laugh. EXT. RIVER - DAY Cameron, Charlie, and several other boys are rowing while Mr. Nolan shouts orders from a bullhorn. MR. NOLAN Take a power train in two! Three! Keep your eyes in the boat! EXT. CAMPUS ROOFTOP - DAY Noisy static is replaced by music as Pitts climbs down form the peak to join Meeks at their makeshift radio. MEEKS We got it, Pittsie. We got it! Radio Free America! EXT CAMPUS - DAY Several students are fencing on a grassy slope. EXT. CAMPUS ROOFTOP - DAY Meeks and Pitts perform a goofy dance together to the music. INT. TODD'S ROOM - DAY Todd is on his bed trying to write a poem. The door opens and Todd turns his writing pad over. Neil enters the room laughing. He crouches down next to Todd's bed and plunks a sheet of paper in Todd's lap. NEIL I found it. TODD You found what? NEIL What I wanna do right now. What's really, really inside me. TODD "A Midsummer Night's Dream"? NEIL This is it. TODD What is this? NEIL It's a play, dummy. TODD I know that. I-- Wh-Wh-What does it have to do with you? NEIL Right. They're putting it on at Henley Hall. Open tryouts. Open tryouts! TODD Yes, so? Neil pounds on the bed and then pulls a blanket off his bed, wearing it like a cloak. NEIL So, I'm gonna act. Yes, yes! I'm gonna be an actor! Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to try this. I even tried to go to summer stock auditions last year, but, of course, my father wouldn't let me. For the first time in my whole life I know what I wanna do. Neil grabs a handful of papers off Todd's bed and tosses them into the air. NEIL and for the first time I'm gonna do it whether my father wants me to or not! Carpe diem! TODD Neil, Neil, hold on a minute. How are you gonna be in a play if your father won't let you? NEIL First I gotta get the part, then I can worry about that. TODD Yeah, but won't he kill you if he finds out you went to an audition and didn't even tell him? NEIL No, no, no, no. As far as I'm concerned, he won't have to know about any of this. TODD Well, that's impossible. NEIL Bullshit! Nothing's impossible. TODD Well, why don't you just call him and ask him? And m-maybe he'll say yes. NEIL That's a laugh! Neil tosses the blanket back onto his bed. NEIL If I don't ask him, at least I won't be disobeying him. TODD Yeah, but if he said-- NEIL (shouting angrily) Jesus, Todd! Whose side are you on? Todd says nothing. Neil looks at him for a moment and then takes the flyer back from Todd. He walks over to the window, his excitement gone. NEIL I mean, I haven't even gotten the part yet. Can't I even enjoy the idea for a little while? Once again, Todd says nothing. After a moment, Neil sits on the heater and Todd returns to his poem. NEIL You're coming to the meeting this afternoon? TODD I don't know. Maybe. NEIL Nothing Mr. Keating has to say means shit to you, does it, Todd? TODD W-What is that supposed to mean? NEIL You're in the club! Being in the club means being stirred up by things. You look about as stirred up as a cesspool. Neil gets up from the window and stands over Todd. TODD So- You want me out? NEIL No! I want you in, but being in means you gotta do something. Not just say you're in. TODD Well, listen, Neil. I-I appreciate this concern, but I-I'm not like you. All right? You, you, you say thing and people listen. I'm, I'm not like that. NEIL Don't you think you could be? TODD No! I--I, I don't know, but that's not the point. The, the, the point is that there's nothing you can do about it, so you can just butt out. I can take care of myself just fine. All right? NEIL No. TODD What do you mean, "no"? A smile comes to Neil's face. NEIL No. Neil grabs Todd's notebook of poetry and runs across the room with it. Todd leaps up after him. TODD Give me-- Neil. Neil, give that back. The two begin racing in circles around the room, jumping from bed to bed as Todd tries to grab his poem back. NEIL "We are dreaming of a--" Poetry! I'm being chased by Walt Whitman! Okay, okay. Neil drops the notebook. Cameron walks into the room. CAMERON What are you guys doing? I'm sure-- You see this chemistry- Cameron tries to hold up his book and Neil snatches it from his hands and suddenly all three of them are racing around the room. CAMERON Hey, give me-- Neil, give me-- Don't be immature. Come on. I need my- Charlie enters the room and begins waving his hands. CHARLIE Give it to me! Give it to me! NEIL Charlie! Neil tosses Cameron's book to Charlie. CAMERON Let me have my book, I need my- The four boys continue racing around the cramped quarters, tossing Cameron's book back and forth. Neil picks up a recorder and begins blowing erratic notes on it while Charlie starts pounding on a set of bongo drums. Outside the room a crowd of boys watch. EXT. CAMPUS ENTRANCE - DAY Knox is riding his bike around in circles near the entrance. Seeing no one nearby, he races through the open gates and down the road. He comes to the top of a hill and then goes downhill across the grass, shouting as he sends an immense flock of geese flying into the air. EXT. PARKING LOT - DAY A number of vehicles drive up, filled with students dressed in bright red cosyumes, playing trumpets and various other instruments as they pass. Knox watches the growing crowd of students. They are all converging on a bus. A football player, wearing a horned helmet, dances on the roof of the bus. A band is playing while a group of cheerleaders are practising. Knox spots Chris amongst the cheerleaders. He watches her until Chet comes along and she grabs hold of his hand. Knox looks away in disgust. COACH Okay, everybody on the bus. Let's go, boys. Come on, let's go. On the bus, boys. Now! Chris jumps into Chet's arms as everyone begins to board the buses. Knox turns his bike around and leaves. EXT. SOCCER FIELD - DAY Keating walks across the field, followed by his students. He kicks a ball ahead of him while he carries a number of other balls in a net slung over his shoulder. KEATING Now, devotees may argue that one sport or game is inherently better than another. For me, sport is actually a chance for us to have other human beings push us to excel. I want you all to come over here and take a slip of paper and line up single file. Keating reaches the stands. He tosses the balls aside and pulls sets his briefcase down. As the boys line up he begins ripping off slips of paper from a notepad and handing them out. KEATING Mr. Meeks, time to inherit the earth. Mr. Pitts, rise above your name. He hands the notepad to another student. KEATING I want you to hand these out to the boys, one apiece. EXT. SOCCER FIELD - DAY The students are all lined up in single file, each holding a slip of paper. Keating blows his whistle. KEATING You know what to do, Pitts. PITTS "Oh to struggle against great odds. To meet enemies undaunted." KEATING Sounds to me like you're daunted. Say it again like you're undaunted. PITTS "Oh to struggle against great odds. To meet enemies undaunted." KEATING Now go on. Pitts gives one of the soccer balls a good kick. KEATING Yes! Next. One of the students sets up the next ball as the line advances. BOY 1 "To be a sailor of the world, bound for all ports." KEATING Next. Louder! BOY 2 "Oh, I live to be the ruler of life, not a slave." Keating walks away and starts up a record player. BOY 3 "To mount the scaffolds. To advance to the muzzle of guns with perfect nonchalance." Classical music begins playing on the phonograph. Meeks goes to read next but is confused by the music. KEATING Come on, Meeks! Listen to the music. MEEKS "To dance, clap hands, exalt, shout, skip, roll on, float on." KEATING Yes! HOPKINS (without energy) "Oh, to have life henceforth the poem of new joys." Hopkins crumples up his paper and then barely taps the soccer ball with his foot. Keating puts a look of disgust on his face. KEATING Oh! Boo! Come on, Charlie, let it fill your soul! Charlie raises his hands over his head. CHARLIE "To indeed be a god!" INT. DORM HALLWAY - DAY Neil is racing down the hallway, all excited. NEIL Charlie, I got the part! I'm gonna play Puck! I'm gonna play Puck! He pounds on Charlie's door. MEEKS What did he say? PITTS Puck? NEIL That's the main part. KNOX Great, Neil. NEIL Charlie, I got it! CHARLIE Congratulations. Good for you, Neil. Good for you. Neil enters his room with Todd and sits down at his typewriter. NEIL Okay, okay, okay, okay. TODD Neil, how are you gonna do this? NEIL They need a letter of permission from my father and Mr. Nolan. TODD You're not gonna write it. NEIL Oh yes, I am.