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The Emperor's Club (2002)

Cast: Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsch, Jesse Eisenberg, more...
Director: Michael Hoffman, Michael Hoffman
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Universal Studios
Genre: Drama, Costume Drama/Period Piece, Coming of Age
Running Time: 110 min.
Languages: English, Spanish, French
Subtitles: Spanish, French
    see additional details...

A dedicated teacher learns some important lessons about himself years after he retired from the classroom in this drama. William Hundert (Kevin Kline) is an instructor at St. Benedict's School for Boys, an exclusive private academy on the East Coast where Hundert drills his charges on the moral lessons to be learned through the study of Greek and Roman philosophers. Hundert is fond of telling his students, "A man's character is his fate," and he strives to impress upon them the importance of the ordered and examined life. In 1976, however, Hundert finds himself with an especially challenging group of students -- party-minded Fred Masoudi (Jesse Eisenberg) , introverted Martin Blythe (Paul Dano), bright but mischievous Deepak Mehta (Rishi Mehta), and most notably, openly rebellious Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch). The son of a powerful politician, Bell pointedly runs against the current of Hundert's example, questioning the importance of the material, flouting the school's rules, talking out of turn in class, and devoting as much time to his interest in girls as in his studies. However, Hundert sees the possibility of great things in Bell, and encourages him to take part in the school's annual academic competition for the title of Mr. Julius Caesar. Hundert even goes so far as to bend the rules in scoring to favor Bell in the early stages of the contest, but his faith is betrayed when Bell is discovered cheating during the contest finals. Years later, Hundert is reunited with his students, where they learn the years have taught them all a great deal about their virtues and weaknesses. The Emperor's Club also features Harris Yulin, Rob Morrow, and Edward Herrmann. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

The anti-Dead Poets Society by tercio28 June 21, 2007 - 7:48 PM PDT
The trailer of this movie will make you think it is a DPS clone when it is actually the opposite. Dead Poets Society was a paean to the exuberance of youth and an attack on traditions and institutions it portrayed as cruel and repressive. All of it points to the 60īs that will sweep down on the Welton Academy and its old-fashioned rules.
The Emperorīs Club happens 20 years later - after the 60īs. It presents the same world of old rules as valid but threatened but the miasm that the 60īs ended with, and rebelion as selfish and inmoral. It is a conservative answer to Peter Weirīs movie, and even if you are not a conservative, it should make you think.

Intelligent, subtle -- not just the "Dead Romans Society" by underdog May 27, 2003 - 11:19 AM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
Incisive little drama, faithfully adapted (with few changes) from Ethan Canin's short story "The Palace Thief," will inevitably be linked to Dead Poet's Society but is quite different in many ways. This film is more low-key, less dramatic, but in some ways more thoughtfully composed. Just as in Canin's story, this is really a tale about ethics -- and to take it even one level further -- about the seeds of American political corruption. It's also a beautifully composed film, with a great, and even touching, performance by Kevin Kline, as well as by Emile Hirsch as the Senator's son who disrupts Kline's classroom. The biggest flaws: James Newton Howard's (as usual) obnoxiously, unnecessarily syrupy music score, the same kind of patronizing sounds he's been dishing up for years, and it's too bad... an underdeveloped relationship for Kline is the other flaw, but it isn't a big deal. This is really a "guys weepy movie" (which women can still appreciate and enjoy). I recommend seeing this film and reading Canin's story together.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.19)
31 Votes
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You'll need to stay after class.
My favorite movies about school, teachers, and higher education.

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