Cinematic devices

The film Dead Poets Society (1989) directed by Peter Weir uses various cinematic devices to tell the story and highlight defining moments in the narrative, as well as important aspects relating to the characters.

Different camera angles and points of view offer important insight into the characters’ thoughts and feelings and the power dynamic between characters. Close-ups draw the viewers’ attention to a character’s reaction to a certain event. Scenic shots are used to transition between indoor scenes. 

The lighting in the film is mostly soft lighting and natural lighting. Some scenes are shot in very low lighting, with candles or flashlights as the only source of light. Candles are important symbols in the film, that represent the light of knowledge and creativity. 

Sound is used in the film to increase the emotional impact of important scenes, for instance the rousing music in the end scene. Diegetic sounds are also used to increase audience involvement in scenes such as the beating of the drum in the cave scenes or the night noises in the scene where the boys sneak out of the school.

You can read more about the cinematic devices used in the film in the following pages.

Excerpt from the study guide:

During Keating’s first lesson, after the boys rip out the pages of the preface, and Keating tells them why poetry is important, the camera view is from the perspective of the class, focused on Keating ...

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