Dead Poets Society (partially lost deleted scenes from Peter Weir teen drama film; 1989)

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A screenshot from a recovered deleted scene.

Status: Partially Lost

Dead Poets Society is a 1989 movie directed by Peter Weir. It stars Robin Williams as Mr. John Keating, an English teacher at a prestigious boys' school in 1959. Keating makes it his goal to inspire his students to live life to the fullest, or “carpe diem.” Among his class are a group of seven boys, who reignite a poetry reading club titled the Dead Poets Society. Thanks to the club, the boys get the confidence to seize the day and do things they had been too afraid to do. Meanwhile, Neil Perry (Robert Sean Leonard) gets the confidence to audition for a play, much to his controlling father’s dismay.

The movie was a massive success and has continued to be very popular decades later. Making a reported worldwide gross of $235,860,579, the film was ranked 5th worldwide [1]. It also was nominated for four Academy Awards, winning the award for Best Original Screenplay in 1990[2]. The film maintains a Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 92% Audience Score[3].

The movie has a handful of deleted scenes. Most of these scenes can be seen in the extended cut of the film. Despite most deleted scenes being viewable, some have never been released, and some may not even exist.

Extended Cut[edit | edit source]

Dead Poets Society’s runtime is typically 2 hours and 8 minutes; however, there is an extended cut of the movie. This cut is most often played when the movie airs on cable networks and is also the cut included on the laserdisc and DVD releases[4]. The extended cut adds roughly fifteen minutes to the film[5]. All of these scenes can be viewed on YouTube, and their summaries are as follows:

Extended dorm scene[edit | edit source]

This scene finds Todd and Neil sitting in their dorm after the rest of the group leaves. Todd sits at his desk, unpacking his things; Neil sits by the window, lost in thought. Neil asks Todd what he thought of his father, who had just made a harsh visit. Todd mumbles quietly, prompting Neil to tell him lightheartedly that he’ll need to learn to speak up if he intends to make it in their school. The scene lasts roughly thirty seconds.

Extracurricular assignment scene[edit | edit source]

After the boys get settled in their dorms, this scene finds all of them lined up outside of Mr. Nolan’s office. Neil, Todd, Charlie, Knox, and Cameron are called into Nolan’s office to get their extracurricular assignments. Meeks and Pitts, remaining in the hallway, earn demerits for asking about who Todd is. After some small talk, Nolan dishes out the extracurriculars to the boys. Todd, upon being assigned to soccer, attempts to speak up and ask if he could be switched to rowing instead. The other boys looked surprised to hear Todd speak against Nolan’s assignment. Nolan denies his request to switch sports. This scene lasts approximately 2 minutes and 20 seconds.

Extended Danburry dinner scene[edit | edit source]

This scene adds roughly an extra three minutes to Knox’s dinner with the Danburry family. After being introduced to Mrs. and Mr. Danburry, Knox is led into the living room of the home. Knox meets the daughter of the family, Ginny, and sits down on the couch. Mr. Danburry tells Knox a story involving the law firm Knox’s father works at. Knox is barely listening, as his attention is focused on Chris Noel, the girlfriend of Chet Danburry. Chet and Chris come downstairs and ask Mr. Danburry if they can take his car out. Chet and the Danburrys Leave the room to discuss the matter. Chris and Knox make small talk about their schools. Chris then asks Ginny if she’ll be auditioning for her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, to which she says she might. Chet returns to take Chris out to the car, and Knox sees them making out in it through the window.

Nolan asks about Keating scene[edit | edit source]

Following the boys discovering Keating’s old annual, this scene picks up with Mr. Nolan stopping by their lunch table. Looking suspiciously at the boys, he asks them about their opinions on Keating so far. The boys all agree that he’s very interesting. Nolan, still slightly suspicious, leaves the table. This scene lasts roughly under a minute.

Lake rehearsal scene[edit | edit source]

The scene begins with Neil sitting by the window, reading the script of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and smiling. It cuts to the lake outside the school, where Todd and Neil are running lines. Neil passionately explains that acting is absolutely wonderful, allowing him to live multiple lives through the characters he plays. He invites Todd to stop by their rehearsals, to which Todd accepts. Resuming their lines, Neil encourages Todd to put as much energy as he can into the lines. Todd shouts the line loudly, much to his and Neil’s amusement. The scene lasts for almost three minutes.

Spaghetti dinner scene[edit | edit source]

At dinner, the boys are all seated at their usual table, attempting to eat spaghetti with their non-dominant hand. They are all amused at their mild success with the task before Dr. Hager notices the activity. Asking if they’re all normally left-handed, the boys reply that they aren’t. Knox says they wanted to try and break old habits. Hager instructs them to use their right hands; Charlie shoves an entire meatball into their mouth in retaliation. This scene lasts just over a minute.

Blindfolded lesson scene[edit | edit source]

In Keating’s classroom, all of the boys are seated at their desks with blindfolds on. Keating has a classical music record on. The bell rings, and Keating stops the music; all of the boys remove their blindfolds. Keating explains the point of the lesson was to let music inspire words in their minds, as opposed to sights. As the class leaves, the scene transitions to Keating asking Neil if he’s talked to his father. This scene lasts for about two minutes.

Keating and McAllister scene[edit | edit source]

Following Neil’s death, Keating and Mr. McAllister are drinking tea in Keating’s office. McAllister encourages Keating to not be so hard on himself. He goes on to explain how teenage boys find any chance to rebel, and that this situation was most likely inevitable, even without his class. The scene lasts just over a minute.

Extended prayer service scene[edit | edit source]

After the students of Welton sing hymns in Neil’s memoriam, they all sit down to listen to a prayer. The school’s priest leads the prayer, as the camera pans across the Poets and the teachers. It transitions into Nolan telling the group that an inquiry into Neil’s death will be conducted. This scene lasts almost a minute and a half.

Raw Deleted Scenes[edit | edit source]

Included on the DVD release is the raw footage from two deleted scenes. According to the DVD, these scenes were meant to be cut in alongside Neil’s death scene. It is speculated they were cut to make Neil’s death more impactful.

Cave scene[edit | edit source]

After Neil’s play, the Poets, alongside Chris and Ginny, go to the cave that the meetings are hosted at. The group talks about Neil’s father, to which Todd says that he’ll kill him next time he sees him. Keating arrives at the cave, joining the group in conversation. Charlie suggests hosting a Dead Poets meeting, with Keating reading the opening verse. Todd announces that he wishes to read a poem of his own, which is met with loud cheers from the entire group. The scene lasts nearly three minutes.

Waterfall scene[edit | edit source]

Singing in unison, the entire group heads to a frozen waterfall in the forest. The entire group dances joyously together, with Chris and Knox breaking away from the group to share a kiss. The scene lasts nearly four minutes.

Lost Scenes[edit | edit source]

There is one documented deleted scene that has not been included in any cuts or bonus features. Only a very small snippet of the edited scene has been shown, having been included in an interview with the cast.

The scene depicts Neil’s funeral. While most of the scene’s contents are unknown, the snippet shows the Poets carrying Neil’s coffin, as well as Mr. Perry confronting Keating.

There has been a listing in the past for an authentic prop that was used in this deleted scene: Neil’s eulogy [6].

Another angle of the scene with the coffin can be found in a home video recording uploaded to YouTube by residents of the city who recorded the taping. In the video, it appears to show a rehearsal of the scene, since the Poets are laughing and talking to each other [7].

When asked about the scene, Kurtwood Smith (Mr. Perry) had this to say:

"When we shot that, Peter [Weir] said he doubted that he was going to use it." [8]

It is unknown if this scene may ever resurface since it appeared to be cut relatively early on.

Existence Unconfirmed Scenes[edit | edit source]

In a promotional program for the movie released in Japan [9], there are multiple photos from the movie included. Most of the photos are either screenshots from the film or behind-the-scenes pictures. One picture, in particular, seems to be from the opening scene. It shows Neil standing near the “Excellence” banner he carries into the room. Seemingly, it appears that Neil is speaking to the room. No scene like this appears in the film.

It is speculated that this scene is Neil reciting what the term “excellence” means in the context of Welton Academy. This theory is supported by the novelization of Dead Poets Society, in which all of the banner carriers recite what their banner represents to the crowd.

Another still, source unknown, was shared by Tumblr user propaganda-for-poets. The picture depicts Keating laying on the floor of the classroom, while him and the boys seem to be looking towards the blackboard [10].

No evidence of these scenes has been documented apart from the stills.

Status[edit | edit source]

Scene Name Status Notes
Extended dorm scene Found Scene plays from 0:00-0:35; included in extended cut.
Extracurricular assignment scene Found Scene plays from 0:36-2:58; included in extended cut.
Extended Danburry dinner scene Found Scene plays from 2:59-5:55; included in extended cut.
Nolan asks about Keating scene Found Scene plays from 5:56-6:42; included in extended cut.
Lake rehearsal scene Found Scene plays from 6:43-8:16; included in extended cut.
Spaghetti dinner scene Found Scene plays from 8:17-9:59; included in extended cut.
Blindfolded lesson scene Found Scene plays from 10:00-11:40; included in extended cut.
Keating and McAllister scene Found Scene plays from 11:41-12:44; included in extended cut.
Extended prayer scene Found Scene plays from 12:45-14:23; included in extended cut.
Raw deleted cave scene Found Scene plays from 0:00-3:31; included in bonus features.
Raw deleted waterfall scene Found Scene plays from 3:32-7:56; included in bonus features.
Neil's funeral scene Lost Likely cut early on.
Neil's speech scene Existence Unconfirmed Evidence of its existence is based on a still from a promotional program.
Lost Keating Lesson Scene Existence Unconfirmed Source unknown, shared on Tumblr;unknown if it's a deleted scene or a behind-the-scenes photo.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

A compilation of all of the deleted scenes included in the extended cut.
Home video shot by residents of the filming of the movie. The filming of the rehearsal of the cut funeral scene is shown from 16:48-19:33.
A behind-the-scenes interview video, featuring the only known edited clips from Neil's funeral scene.
The raw deleted scenes featured on the bonus features of the DVDs.

References[edit | edit source]