Movies About Poets to Celebrate National Poetry Month
April is National Poetry Month, so what better time than now to watch a film about poets or the art of poetry?
Luckily for you, we’ve compiled a list of eight movies for that express purpose. If you’d rather read a book (or a few), peep this rundown of our staff’s favorite poetry books.
Movies About Poets
Adam Driver stars as working class bus driver Paterson in this Jim Jarmusch directed film. Set in his namesake city of New Jersey, he follows the same daily routine. Paterson listens to snippets of conversation as he picks up and drops off passengers, walks his dog and, once his shift is over, heads to a bar to drink one beer before returning home to Laura, his wife. In between these moments, he writes poetry in a worn notebook. Paterson is a quiet, lyrical film with a powerful performance by Driver that celebrates the poet in each of us.
Dead Poets Society
“O Captain! My Captain!” This 1989 flick is a coming-of-age staple and it’s also one of late and great Robin Williams’ most iconic roles. Backdropped by an elite all-boys preparatory school, Welton Academy, English teacher John Keating (Williams) inspires his students through his teachings of poetry. His students eventually reinstate the Dead Poets Society, an unsanctioned club Keating took part in when he was a Welton student.
The Kindergarten Teacher
An Israeli film written and directed by Nadav Lapid, it weaves the story of a teacher who is taken by her young student’s talent for poetry. But her initial interest soon morphs into obsession. The film was remade into an English-language Netflix Original starring Maggie Gyllenhaal. You can’t check out that version at the library, but you can find Lapid’s movie – which the New York Times called “remarkably powerful” – in our stacks.
Kill Your Darlings
Fan of the beat poets? Kill Your Darlings, a biographical drama, throws it back to the college years of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs and Lucien Carr – some of the earliest writers in what would become known as the Beat Generation. A dark tale of passion, poetry and, yes, murder, it stars Daniel Radcliffe, Dane Dehaan, Ben Foster and Jack Huston, alongside others. If you’re left wanting more about the beats, look no further than 2010’s Howl, which dramatizes the life and work of Ginsberg.
Romeo + Juliet (1996)
Sure, this is not about a poet. But Shakespeare did write in poetic verse, and Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of the bard’s tale about star-crossed lovers (mostly) sticks to his original dialogue. Saturated in gaudy, loud, romantic visuals, the film is set in 1990s Verona Beach and portrays the Montagues and the Capulets as rival mafias. It stars a young Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo (wearing one of the coolest button-down shirts to grace the silver screen) and Claire Danes as Juliet. There’s much debate about the film’s stylistic choices but, love it or hate it, it’s an unabashedly over-the-top and fresh take on this classic.
Pulling its namesake from John Keats sonnet “Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art,” this period piece places viewers in 1818 England. Fanny Brawne’s interest is piqued by next-door-neighbor Keats, even more so when she reads his poetry. It wouldn’t be a period drama without some kind of affair, right? Though Keats’ feelings grow for Fanny, he is a married and struggling poet who grapples with acting on them.
A Quiet Passion
Let’s hear it for Emily Dickinson: A prolific writer regarded as one of the most influential American poets of all time. But she only published 10 works in her lifetime; it wasn’t until after her death in 1886 that over 1,800 of her poems became public, thanks to the discovery of her sister Lavinia. Cynthia Nixon plays the beloved, eccentric and reclusive poet in this movie about Dickinson’s life.
This flick might just be the most action-packed of the bunch. Set in Chile’s capital and largest city Santiago, facts and fiction merge in this work about the life of Nobel Prize-winning poet, senator and communist Pablo Neruda. Here’s the gist: It’s 1948 and the Cold War is afoot; when Neruda is impeached for criticizing the president, he must go into hiding. A police inspector is assigned the task of arresting the famed poet — that is, if he can find him.