Photographer's Note


In 1989 the Australian film maker Peter Weir directed the film "Dead Poets Society," starring Robin Williams and including the young actors Robert Sean Leonard and Ethan Hawke. The site for the filming was the campus of St. Andrew's School in Middletown, Delaware (USA), my alma mater of the distant past. In 1988 I was serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of the School when the producers of the film approached the Board to allow Touchstone Films to shoot the film at the school. The Board allowed the filming, albeit with trepidation, knowing that a troubled young student at the school had committed suicide just a few years earlier, and the film's story contained the tragedy of a student's suicide. The film, however, turned out to be a genuinely sensitive work with deep social and psychological overtones, and displayed some of the most beautiful cinematography seen in any film. I also had the fascinating experience of seeing some of the filming, and meeting Robin Williams, who can be seen here). The private school for only 290 students now (but only 160 in my time, which happened to be the time depicted in the film) features one of the most beautiful campuses of any academic institution with which I am familiar, inspired by the architecture of Oxford, Cambridge and Princeton.

St. Andrew's School was founded in 1929 when the immensely wealthy patriarch of the DuPont Family had recently divorced his wife, and the Episcopal Bishop of Delaware suggested to him that he build five new churches and a very fine boy's school as a form of redemption. The churches were built, and so too the great school! I attended St. Andrew's School on a 'War Memorial Scholarship' for three years and received the impetus to subsequently pursue an education in theoretical physics at a number of great universities. My English teacher, a graduate of the school and subsequently Harvard, could have been "Mr. Keating," played by Robin Williams in the "Dead Poets Society." Chester Baum was enthusiastic, engaging, extremely knowledgeable and extraordinarily rigorous. In writing an essay, a grade of 80 (out of 100) was the most one could have aspired for; William Shakespeare might have been able to squeeze out a 90.

The image was shot in JPG+RAW using a Nikon D200, 18-70 Nikkor lens, the camera set on a tripod. I was attending an alumni reunion when I took the photograph on a late afternoon in early June.

If you have not seen "Dead Poets Society," I would recommend it highly.

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Additional Photos by Bulent Atalay (batalay) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6809 W: 476 N: 12169] (41257)
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