In the 1989 movie Dead Poets Society, the actor Robin Williams plays a teacher trying to energize his students through poetry. The Latin phrase “Carpe Diem” means ‘seize the day’ or make the most of the moment.
KEATING Now, Mr… Pitts. That’s a rather unfortunate name. Mr. Pitts, where are you?
KEATING Mr. Pitts, would you open your hymnal to page 542 and read the first stanza of the poem you find there?
PITTS “To the virgins, to make much of time”?
KEATING Yes, that’s the one. Somewhat appropriate, isn’t it.
PITTS “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, old time is still a flying, and this same flower that smiles today, tomorrow will be dying.”
KEATING Thank you Mr. Pitts. “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.” The Latin term for that sentiment is Carpe Diem. Now who knows what that means?
MEEKS Carpe Diem. That’s “seize the day.”
KEATING Very good, Mr.-
KEATING Meeks. Another unusual name. Seize the day. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. Why does the writer use these lines?
CHARLIE Because he’s in a hurry.
KEATING No, ding!
KEATING Thank you for playing anyway. Because we are food for worms lads. Because, believe it or not, each and every one of us in this room is one day going to stop breathing, turn cold, and die.
KEATING Now I would like you to step forward over here and peruse some of the faces from the past. You’ve walked past them many times. I don’t think you’ve really looked at them.
KEATING They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you. Their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen. Do you hear it?
KEATING [whispers] Carpe.
KEATING [whispers again] Carpe. Carpe Diem. Seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in “A Few Good Men.” Tom Cruise is a lawyer in the US Army, questioning Jack Nicholson in a military court regarding the death of a new recruit during training. Cruise met a wall of silence trying to investigate the death, which occurred following a ‘Code Red,’ a term used to indicate that a recruit should be dealt with using maximum force by his classmates and officers. Such a command could only be given by a superior officer such as Colonel Jessep (Jack Nicholson).
KAFFEE (Tom Cruise)
Colonel Jessep, did you order the Code Red?
You don’t have to answer that question.
JESSEP (Jack Nicholson)
I’ll answer the question. You want answers?
I think I’m entitled to them.
You want answers?!
I want the truth.
You can’t handle the truth!
Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Lt. Weinberg? I have a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for Santiago and you curse the marines. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: That Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives.
You don’t want the truth. Because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall.
We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. You use ’em as a punchline.
I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom that I provide, then questions the manner in which I provide it. I’d rather if you just said thank you and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon and stand a post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.
I have a feeling my career has just peaked. My deepest thanks to the Academy. I’m afraid I have to warn you that I’m experiencing stirrings. Somewhere in the upper abdominals which are threatening to form themselves into dance moves, which, er, joyous as they may be for me, it would be extremely problematic if they make it to my legs before I get off stage.
So I’m going to do my best to be brief with my gratitude first for being on this extraordinary list of fellow nominees. Something quite formidable and possibly the greatest honor of this. All the crew and my fellow cast members, those who are not here, and those who are, Geoffrey, Helena, and Guy, whose virtuosity made it very very difficult for me to be as bad as I was planning to be. And David Seidler whose own struggles have given so many people the benefit of his very beautiful voice and Tom Hooper for the immense courage and clear sightedness with which he interpreted that. The men who finessed this to the screen, Gareth, Emile, Iain, Xavier, and of course, Harvey, who first took me on 20 years ago when I was a mere child sensation.
And, so, and all the people who have been rooting for me back home. Em, Also Jessica Kolstad, my friend, Paul Lyon-Maris, and Chris Andrews for bearing with me through some of the less fortunate moments as well as the good ones and my very fortunate friendship with Tom Ford who to whom I owe a very big piece of this. And to the Anglo-Italian-American-Canadian axis, which makes up my family and Livia for putting up with my fleeting delusions of royalty and who I hold responsible for this and for really everything that’s good that’s happened since I met her. Now if you’ll all excuse me, I have some impulses I have to tend to backstage. Thank you very much.