The Emperor’s Club
Release Year: 2002
Director: Michael Hoffman
Writers: Neil Tolkin (screenplay), Ethan Canin (based on his short story “The Palace Thief”)
Starring: Kevin Kline, Embeth Davidtz, Rob Morrow, Edward Herrmann, Harris Yulin, Jesse Eisenberg, Paul Dano, Rishi Mehta
An idealistic teacher at a prestigious all-boys school attempts to redeem an incorrigible new student.
There must be people out there who, like me, cherishes quite prep school dramas featuring idealistic teachers because Hollywood keep making them from time to time. The Emperor’s Club has the same feel as Peter Weir’s seminal Dead Poets Society (1989) and clearly take some inspiration from it, but here the focus is more solely on the teacher rather than the students. Kline (A Fish Called Wanda, 1988) is a great choice for the soft-spoken, idealistic teacher of Classics. The cast of students is not as flesh out as we might have wanted, perhaps to keep focus on the new student, Sedgewick (Emile Hirsch), whose attitude disturbs the quiet order of the classroom. Kline’s professor Hundert sees a student on his way down the wrong path and tries to form him according to the ideals of his beloved Greeks and Romans. Whether he succeeds or not will show in the final act. The conclusion is not a clear cut and one might have expected but the overall result is a pleasant one, especially for fans of school dramas.
Kevin Kline attended Saint Louis Priory School in Missouri, an all-boys Benedictine high school, similar to the one in the film. Kline used his own experiences as inspiration including one of his Latin teachers.
Picture Copyright: UIP