Poetry in Film | Drew Kettering, Library Assistant

Poetry and movies aren’t necessarily art forms you’d think go together, but for National Poetry Month we’ve picked out some DVDs from our collection that reference poetry in a multitude of ways.

First off, we have “Dead Poets Society”, a film in which a schoolteacher, played by Robin Williams, inspires his apathetic students by teaching them about finding themselves through the freedom of poetry. The story is so compelling and well-acted that it received an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay and inspired a book adaptation by Nancy H. Kleinbaum. This PG rated film is an inspiring story rejoicing in the powerful positive influence teachers can have on our lives. Highly recommended!

Taking another route, the 2003 biopic “Sylvia” recounts the tragic relationship between poets Sylvia Plath and Edward James (Ted) Hughes. The film paints Sylvia as the archetypal tortured artist, depicting her struggles to write and her frustrations with marriage in a dark mysterious drama that ultimately ends with disaster. This film is not for the faint of heart but could be an interesting jumping off point for learning more about the work of both poets and the complexity of their lives and ends.

Lastly, I would be remiss not to mention the many film adaptations of Shakespeare we have in the collection. My favorite would have to be Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 adaptation of “Romeo and Juliet” starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Clare Danes. Watching this film as a high school poetry nerd let me connect with the verse of Shakespeare for the first time. While reading his plays was a struggle, this film connected the poet’s masterful language with a sort of modern ’90s imagery that really appealed to me at the time. Not to mention the film soundtrack is fantastic!

Hopefully one of these films piques your poetic interest, but if not, I would suggest the next screening of the Curious Cinema Club! This month’s film was directed by Italy’s treasure Roberto Benigni, who also stars as a helpless romantic and protective father in a heart-wrenching story of a man trying to shield his son from the horrors of a WWII concentration camp. Benigni’s performance combines the humor of Chaplin with the compassion of a holy man. His story is so compelling it not only won Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards, it also won Best Picture. Not to be missed!

Film titles and additional information can be found on the Library’s website.

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