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Wednesday, December 04, 2002

Movie Review: The Emperor’s Club

I think the constant but understandable comparisons to Dead Poets Society will hurt this movie, causing people to dismiss The Emperor’s Club as a copy of a classic. Besides similar names, both films center around a charismatic teacher at a boys’ school and focus heavily on tradition. However, the similarities end there. I love Dead Poets Society, but I hate to see this movie hurt by that one’s popularity.

Kevin Kline plays Mr. Hundert, an extremely flawed but extremely dedicated and noble teacher. In his attempts at giving young men a love of history, he finds himself helping a student for the wrong reasons, and in the wrong ways.

The movie takes place in two different times, with a constantly changing cast. Kline is the only actor who appears all the way through it, with older actors replacing younger ones in certain roles. Some of the other characters come and go too quickly, and the movie probably should have been longer, so we could more fully understand and feel how all of these lives intersect with Mr. Hundert. Still, Kline’s skillful study of a man constantly facing difficult choices makes up for the sometimes-rushed nature of the narrative.

I recommend The Emperor’s Club for anyone who likes good acting and good stories, not just for fans of Dead Poets Society.