Dead Poets Society, Grease and Harry Potter: Top class films set in school
Music, poetry and magic are the main lessons to come out of these classics
Dead Poets Society: John Keating (Robin Williams) is no ordinary English teacher
It’s a classic back-to-school scene, soundtracked by a classic hit song, Summer Nights. You know the story: it’s 1959, and too-cool-for-school dude Danny Zuko (John Travolta) has had a summer romance with shy, preppie Sandy Olsen (Olivia Newton-John). When he goes back to school at Rydell High, his greaser gang the T-Birds want to hear all about his conquests – so Danny exaggerates his story for the benefit of the guys. What he doesn’t realise is that Sandy has just enrolled in Rydell High, and she’s telling the girls the rather less raunchy version of events.
School of Rock (2003)
It’s new term at the prestigious Horace Green prep school for super-privileged kids, and there’s a new subject on the curriculum: “How to Stick it to the Man.” Having just been kicked out of his rock band, and needing money to pay the rent, Dewey Finn (Jack Black) impersonates his friend Ned and takes a job as a substitute teacher at the school. He soon recruits the kids into forming a rock band, teaching them riffology and handing out AC/DC lyrics as homework.
Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone (2001)
There’s a lot to process on your first day back at school, but for young Harry Potter, his first day at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry brings some very peculiar challenges. There’s all the magic to be learnt, not to mention mastering the rather fast-moving game of Quiddich. And then, of course, there’s the evil Lord Voldemort, who killed Harry’s parents, and is trying to return to human form so he can kill Harry. No pressure, then.
10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Just in case you don’t guess that this teen high-school movie is loosely based on William Shakespeare’s The Taming of The Shrew, the filmmakers have helpfully dropped several clues in the characters’ names. There’s the beautiful but haughty Kat Stratford (Julia Stiles) and the school rebel Patrick Verona (Heath Ledger).
The story isn’t all that different from the Bard’s original – although “forsooth” is replaced with “like”.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
“Seize the day . . . because. Believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold and die.”
This is not something you expect your new teacher to utter on your first day back at school, but John Keating (Robin Williams) is no ordinary English teacher. He’s on a mission to free the students of Welton Academy from their ultra-conservative chains by instilling in them a love of poetry.
Altogether now: “O Captain, My Captain!”