Blog Directory CineVerse: Old school ethics

Old school ethics

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"The Emperor's Club" proved to be an intellectually stimulating film that poses challenging questions to the viewer. Our CineVerse club got wrapped up in these questions during yesterday's discussion, and here are some of the conclusions we reached:

THERE HAVE BEEN MANY FILMS ABOUT TEACHERS, SCHOOLS AND STUDENTS. HOW DOES THE EMPEROR’S CLUB APPROACH THIS SUBGENRE DIFFERENTLY AND IN FRESH, UNEXPECTED WAYS?
·       It poses tricky ethical and moral questions related to integrity, honesty and intentions that aren’t predictably answered here.
·       It affords us the opportunity to flash forward in time to see the results of the teacher’s and student’s questionable actions that occurred decades earlier, allowing us to draw perhaps more definitive conclusions and see the repercussions of earlier choices.
·       It depicts a morally righteous, passionate, fully committed and admirable teacher as having faults and flaws expose him as less of the master educator than he appears to be early on.
·       The movie avoids overly sentimental, clich├ęd, feel-good moments and a Pollyanna-ish happy ending, as well as an overwrought tragic ending; although arguably the denouement of the film is perhaps softened a bit in typical Hollywood style to make it more palatable.
·       This picture is more focused on the teacher than the students, and less about how one or more particular students failed than how their teacher failed them.

WHAT IMPORTANT THEMES ARE TACKLED IN THIS MOVIE?
·       Who is more corrupt and culpable: the leaders of tomorrow, or the mentors who shaped them?
·       Sadly, who you know can be more important than what you know.
·       The consequences of cheating and dishonesty: society in general pays a price when individuals are given unfair opportunities.
·       Is it even possible for teachers and mentors to positively shape a student’s character, or is that character more a function of heredity, parenting, environmental influences, or even fate/destiny?
·       Being honorable and sincere and following the rules in school is a metaphor for life: everyone suffers when integrity, truth and honesty is compromised, and the same vices and lack of virtue is passed on to the next generation.
·       Critic Holly E. said “The Emperor’s Club suggests that…personal growth can happen through embracing tradition and holding oneself up to the highest standards of the past.”

THE CHARACTER OF EMILY, THE WIFE OF A FELLOW TEACHER WHOM HUNDERT IS IN LOVE WITH, HAS BEEN CRITICIZED AS BEING UNNECESSARY. DO YOU AGREE?
·       She feels a bit tacked on, like an obligatory love interest for Hundert.
·       In a film dominated by male characters, perhaps she brings a breath of feminine fresh air.
·       However, her character isn’t well developed, nor does her presence in Hundert’s life add much to develop his character or serve as a fulfilling catalyst for a romantic subplot.

FILMS THAT REMIND US OF THE EMPEROR’S CLUB:
·       Dead Poet’s Society
·       Mr. Holland’s Opus
·       Goodbye, Mr. Chips
·       The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
·       Dangerous Minds

OTHER FILMS HELMED BY DIRECTOR MICHAEL HOFFMAN
·       A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1999)
·       The Last Station
·       One Fine Day

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