Have You Ever Changed Your Mind About a Movie? (or How I Got “Dead Poets Society” Wrong)

Have You Ever Changed Your Mind About a Movie? (or How I Got “Dead Poets Society” Wrong) September 16, 2014

dead poets posterAlissa Wilkinson, chief film critic for Christianity Today, asked me if I’ve ever changed my mind about a movie… and would I write about that?

So I’m asking you. What’s a movie you loved the first time, or hated the first time, and then experienced a total change of mind?

I chose to write about Dead Poet’s Society. He’s how I began my response to Alissa…

He’s leaving. I can hardly believe it. Dr. Luke Reinsma, professor of English at Seattle Pacific University, is retiring.

Two weeks ago I revisited Peter Weir’s Dead Poets Society for the first time in twenty years. Watching Robin Williams play that charismatic English teacher who transforms the lives of repressed prep-school boys, I had flashbacks to my undergraduate years when Reinsma was my academic advisor.

As a freshman at SPU in 1989, I found that this idiosyncratic professor lived up to the reputation I’d heard from former students. I learned to love how, when he handed back my essays, he had written almost as much on them as I had written in them. An exploration of The Canterbury Tales, a coffee conversation about the origins of the Arthur legends, an independent study of Old English, a post-movie talk about Quentin Tarantino—every time we met, we dug deep into the substance of our subject.

Now, he’s boxing the books that blessed his office with an aroma of scholarship and mystery. I’ll miss his Richard Farnsworth mustache. His quick and mischievous eyes. The perpetually windblown hair that he sculpts wildly with both hands as if trying to wring out the words he needs to express his big ideas.

He changed my mind about so many things. I realize now that, due to his influence, even my perspective on Dead Poets Society has changed—dare I say matured?

[To read the whole article, and find out why I changed my mind, go to Christianity Today.]

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5 responses to “Have You Ever Changed Your Mind About a Movie? (or How I Got “Dead Poets Society” Wrong)”

  1. I have been a Darren Aronofsky fan for years. I still am. However I re-watched Requiem maybe 2 years ago and found that it disturbed me much more than the first time. Particularly the consequences to Jennifer Connoly’s character. I felt haunted for weeks after seeing it. I wouldn’t say that now I think the film is bad, because I still admire much about his portrayal of addicitions (is admire the right word? hmm). So perhaps it’s not that the movie has changed, but merely that I have and the impact it had on me more recently was more severe than when I was younger.

  2. I loved Boyhood when I saw it; and as I thought of it further, discovered how shallow the film really was.

  3. Coming out of high school, I was bored senseless the first time I watched Unforgiven. I went in to it with certain expectations that weren’t met. I rewatched it years later without those expectations and saw it’s brilliance. Love love love that film.

  4. Jeffrey, I enjoyed your article and can relate to your journey from uptight teenager to one who enjoys a wider vista in later life. I think it’s a transition many have made and I like the fact that you maintain respect for the younger you. Let’s be glad that you took time to seek God in your youth and sowed mainly good seed in your early days (OK so you were a bit awkward in the outworking of ‘holiness’). You/we now reap a greater harvest, and erring on the righteous side, can’t be a bad thing. esp. in these days of excess.

    Hey, I walked out of a special viewing of Disney’s ‘Fantasia’ (the Night on Bald Mountain by Modest Mussorgsky section was in violation of ‘setting nothing unclean before mine eyes’, if I remember rightly). That’s how uptight I became as a young Christian… perhaps to the point of stupidity. But hey, coming from a liberal, free for all background, I needed to set a new tone in my life and it took me time to get the balance right. Marriage and 4 kids later have helped and 25 years on from the Fantasia protest, I now enjoy a wide range of movies (or films as we call them in the UK).

  5. Loved the 2005 remake of King Kong the first time I saw, then came to dislike it the more I thought about it. The same with Cloverfield and Tremors.

    Movie I didn’t like at first but learned to like the more I thought about it — The Lego Movie.