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Neil’s death in the movie “The Dead Poets Society”

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Neil’s (played by Robert Shaun Leonard) demise was in absolutely no possible way a random occurrence in the movie “Dead Poets Society” or in short DPA. Neil’s death can in fact be compared to a conclusion in a science experiment that was already clearly stated in the hypothesis. A very high quantity of events and symbolism was used in the early structural stages of the movie to give the viewer an obvious impression that he would live to see out the completion of the movie.

The scene of Neil’s death instigates as soon as the school play that Neil was taking part had concluded and Neil was ushered out of the building by his father (Kurtwood Smith) and into their car. Neil, in his father’s point of view is displaying his arrogance by disobeying his father by taking part I the school play when he was “instructed” not to. But in Neil’s point of view he is fulfilling his own ambitions of becoming an actor and what he truly enjoys. When they arrived home, father and son had a discussion about Neil’s future in other words the father dictated Neil’s on what he is going to do with his future, the reason being that they were not a wealthy family. Neil’s father wanted him to attend a very prestigious university known as Harvard, but Neil had other ideas. He wanted to further explore the world of acting and chose a career path of an actor. Mr. Perry would not yield to Neil’s protests that that choice was his to make, but eventually fell silent in defeat. In this section, the camera alternatively changes from Neil to his father as they argue, and most of the time, close up shots are used.

There is a very high probability that this confrontation with his father will have had a subsequent effect on Neil’s decision to commit suicide. After this event Neil makes way to his room and after undressing prepares to sleep, but little did his father know that after he had slept his son was still wide awake deep in thought. His clothes are placed in his bed, neatly folded. This gives him the appearance of a military member, everything clean and ordered, suggesting that Neil life is not under his own control but under the control of his parents because they are the ones who are making all the major decisions in his life for him. In other words the parents prevent him from being a free thinker like Mr. Keating encourages him to be. At this point in the movie, an eerie vibrant music had initiated. The music contained a holy tune like that in a church and sounded very much like bees humming. This music gave the viewer the impression that a very important event in the movie was about to take place in the Perry residence that night.

Neil gets up when Mr. and Mrs. Perry are asleep. Other than the suspicious music, there was total and absolute silence, not even the sounds of nightlife. The silence symbolizes inability to speak out and stand up for your rights. Neil is not standing up for his desire to act, but just concedes defeat to his father when he is being dictated. He then puts on his crown made of thorn that he wore for his school play, opens the window, naked and stares at emptiness, wearing a very dazed expression. When he is wearing the crown, the panning technique is used, moving from the neatly folded clothes to his face, adding extreme close up so that the viewer can distinguish his expression clearly.

Subsequent to this, he walks down the stairs and into another room, which contained a painting of a dragon in one of its walls. As he walks down the stairs, he is only seen as a shadowy figure because all the lights in the house are off, his features invisible and only a black-grey mass in the emptiness. As he walks on a chink of light filtered through the windows illuminates his facial features. The light shining on his face makes him appear god like, comparing him to Jesus Christ.

Dragons, described in mythology as ferocious monstrosities could symbolize death, bad endings and tragedy. This symbol might suggest that Neil’s life will contain a colossal tragedy.

He then makes his way to his parent’s room, still cloaked in shadow and opens the door leading into the room. The extreme focus shot is used on the handle when Neil turns is, possibly to convey the idea of unlocking his way to peace and freedom. The camera then focuses on a clock in the room, a gain using extreme close up technique. The ticking clock symbolizes on time running out for Neil. It is suggesting that Neil does not have much more time alive. After entering the parent’s room, he makes for a cupboard near the bed. He then opens it with a key. Again this symbolizes unlocking the exit and search for a way out of his misery.

He then takes out a gun that is folded in white cloth. The white represents holiness, again linking him with Jesus Christ.

After this, the is suddenly a gap in the events following Neil extracting a gun from the parent’s cupboard. The person that appears I the scene is not Neil but it is his father, suddenly awoken by an ear splitting gunshot. The father acts as if he is irritated and interrupted in his sleep, not knowing what had just occurred. This shows that he does not know how Neil’s mind works and is oblivious to the fact that his son is in serious mental harm.

After Mr. Perry wakes up, he lights a lantern, comparable to that of a church and still relying on the old ways. He sets off around the house, searching for the source of the gunshot and along the way turning all the lights that were off before Neil committed suicide on. He then enters Neil’s room and finds the crown composed of thorn placed near the window. He then hurries along the same path that was taken by Neil and goes into the study. The room is misty, covered in gunpowder, making Mr. Perry extremely suspicious. A panning camera technique is used to move from a window across the room to Neil’s hand, resting like a cross against the gun.

The room that Neil committed suicide, upon close inspection is contains a lot of crosses. Firstly, the grills on the window is completely covered with crosses and secondly Neil’s hand and the gun making a cross. The crosses symbolize Jesus Christ and these crosses convey that Neil’s life, like Jesus Christ who was baptized, was from the beginning of the movie, destined to end in tragedy.

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