*** Official "THE EMPEROR'S CLUB" Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Edwin Pereyra, Nov 20, 2002.

  1. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    What the film is about: The role that teachers play in our lives. A teacher’s passion for making a difference in students’ lives and the lengths one would go, even if it is unethical, to make that happen. A morality tale. How one’s character is shaped by his/her own actions. The choices that we make in our lives and its consequences to others. Moreover, it is about character, success, ethics, doing what is right and above all, believing and forgiveness.
    To a lesser extent it is also a story about fathers and sons; the sins that fathers make, passing them to their sons and breaking that cycle.
    What the film is NOT: Another retread of Dead Poets Society.
    Having just described what the film is about, one might think that this is some kind of a heavy drama. It is not.
    The Emperor’s Club follows the lives of Classics professor William Hundert (Kevin Cline) and its students, primarily, Sedgewick Bell, in the private school of St. Benedicts School For Boys set in New England. Bell is unlike other kids in this school. He is the son of a Senator and is mostly a rebel. Still, Hundert takes an interest and forms a special bond with the young boy.
    The story spans a period of 25 years where most it is told through a major flashback, which then flashforwards to the present day to finish out the rest of its tale.
    Bell is played by Emile Hirsch, who earlier this year played another young kid in the coming-of-age film, The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys. Here, Hirsch, Kevin Kline and the rest of the cast are up to the task.
    Even with a complimentary pass, I almost did not see this advance screening as I thought it would be another film along the same lines as Dead Poets Society. Now, I’m glad that I saw it as it is quite different. And what makes it different is that it takes its story beyond its campus setting and takes on the challenges presented by the real world. I still think though that based on how it is being marketed, that it will not get the audience that it deserves. At this point, only a good word of mouth will get the film noticed.
    Having said that though, don’t be surprised if Universal Studios decides to give The Emperor’s Club a Best Picture Oscar push despite how it does at the box office. It is the type of film that embodies the American ideals much like the films of yesteryears did with Jimmy Stewart and Frank Capra in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. Unfortunately, with some of today’s audiences, films such as The Emperor’s Club and its themes will be dismissed as pure frivolity. Too bad and how times have changed.
    Bottom line: A surprisingly well-acted and very good film with well-defined characters and themes that remain timeless.
    ~Edwin
     
  2. John Thomas

    John Thomas Cinematographer

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    Thanks Edwin. Despite my friends' ribbing, I'm looking forward to this movie. I suppose you sum up the reason why I was attracted to the movie here:
     
  3. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    John, go see it. I would definitely recommend it.
    By the way, the film gets its title from an annual contest that the school has in which the students participate and advance based on their knowledge of Greek and Roman history. The winner is crowned Mr. Julius Caesar and joins the prestigious club of previous winners.
    I was thinking that maybe the filmmakers should have invested the extra $20M and had Tom Hanks play the professor. Kevin Kline was good but he is far from being able to open a film. They have a good material and the film basically targets the over-25 crowd. Hanks would have been a better draw for this type of material. Heck, they probably would have gained all his salary back from the film’s first opening weekend.
    There are those who are already calling this one of this year’s best films. I can certainly understand and wouldn’t fault them for saying that. [​IMG]
    ~Edwin
     
  4. Raasean Asaad

    Raasean Asaad Supporting Actor

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    As soon as I saw the trailer I felt it was another Dead Poets Society or perhaps another film in that vein. I may have to check this one out as I am a fan of Kevin kline's work.
     
  5. Chuck C

    Chuck C Cinematographer

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    As of this writing, Rotten Tomatoes shows 9 fresh, 8 rotten. Of course, RT is subject to a ton of debate, but reading into the reviews, the critics think it's a rehash of former Dead Poetseque films. Myself: I can't wait for this one...Edwin, you're dead on when you say that it's a shame today's audience cannot appreciate films of this nature (esp. after seeing "mr. hollands opus", etc.)
     
  6. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    What I don’t understand is Peter Travers (Rolling Stones) comments:
     
  7. Michael Pakula

    Michael Pakula Second Unit

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    I managed to see this one awile ago back in September
    at the Film Fest. I have to say I really enjoyed this
    one more than I thought I would with a fine performance
    by Kevin Kline and I really couldnt see Tom Hanks play
    the same role as Edwin has said. I've been reading some
    early reviews and am actualy quite suprised that they have been mixed. I wonder what Roger Ebert will have to say about
    this film. Anyways I recommend seeing it. It's the movie of the week in my opinion. The way I see it is James Bond will
    be the same old "Bond Saves The Day while doing amazing stunts", I mean don't get me wrong I am James Bond fan
    and I intend to see it this weekend but after so many years
    the formula just seems to be getting a little old. The only
    other film this week is Friday After Next and it doesnt
    look very good from early word but we shall see as I intend
    to check this out too. Anyways Go See The Emperors Club.later.

    -Mike
     
  8. Craig S

    Craig S Producer
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  9. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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    BEWARE of Ebert's review. He gives away a major spoiler right in his opening sentence.
    ~Edwin
     
  10. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    I wasn't all that revved up to see The Emperor's Club, basically since I felt I knew what it was going to be, but I found it surprisingly effective. A good, solid film. Not a great one by any means but a nice movie I could recommend to just about everyone.
    I don't respect Travers' opinion but would like to address his comment about the weepiness factor. I didn't think The Emperor's Club was trying to jerk tears. It might with some people, but it's not as baldly manipulative as he'd have you think. It is a feel-good movie but not one that tries to beat the audience over the head too much.
    Kline is the right actor for the part, in my opinion. He's friendly and approachable but also a tad stuffy and removed from the boys. He takes an interest in them and their wellbeing but isn't trying to be one of them. He may not be the "cool" teacher, but he's one his students respect, even if they don't always understand why he places such great importance on what he's teaching.
    The film takes some surprising turns. What makes it work for me is how it deviates from the typical course of action in regard to a particular student.
    Since I work at a college in an instructional role, I found the teacher-student dynamic to be explored in a more accurate way than it usually is. Is it sentimentalized? To a degree, probably, but I think it cuts to how the best teachers and their students can and do feel about each other.
    The Emperor's Club isn't perfect. I thought Kline's relationship with Embeth Davidtz's character was superficially handled. And why didn't she go with him to the reunion/celebration?
    Rob Morrow's character could have been integrated better too.
    Still, it's a pleasant [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] film.
    Universal is taking their time with this one, doing a slower rollout rather than taking it to two thousand screens at once. They need to build word of mouth for it, which I think they'll get. I expect those who give it a chance will enjoy it and tell their friends to see it. I don't think it's worthy of a Best Picture nomination, but it has the right pedigree. Wouldn't be surprised if it does nab a top nom.
     
  11. TheLongshot

    TheLongshot Producer

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    Thank you, Edwin. I've been wondering what this movie was about since I saw ads for it. (The ads really tell me nothing about the film.) I've always enjoyed Kevin Kline and it is nice to know he does a good job.

    Jason
     
  12. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    Please note that spoilers may follow. For the sake of legibility, they are not spoiler tagged, so be forewarned.

    Saw this Sunday as part of a farewell party to a close friend of mine that's moving. It was filmed locally, Emma Willard School for Girls in Troy, NY being the location double for St. Benedicts. (My friend's younger brother is an extra in two scenes, one of which may have been cut, as I didn't notice it in the film.) Considering that the majority of the films shot in part or in whole in the area have been of dubious quality (The Time Machine being the latest example), I'd prepared myself for a two-hour shitfest. I held this belief until the scene between Mr. Hundert and Sedgewick in the bathroom. That is when it ceased being for me a by-the-numbers follow through of the Mr. Holland formula. Public humiliation is horrible, but private humiliation in front of a single loved one is perhaps worse.
    The key character in this film for me was Martin Blythe, though he stood in the background for the majority of the film. Though Hundert mistreated him with the Julius Ceaser contest placement, the fact that he could forgive him made him perhaps Hundert's biggest success. The scene at the end, when he goes back to teaching in the very same room to a very different class with him, Blythe Jr., and Blythe Sr. elevated the film to one of the most honest representations of a teacher I've seen on film. I agree with Ebert on one point completely: "the character ... is, after all, better than most teachers, and most men. We care for him, not because he is perfect, but because he regrets so sincerely that he is not."
     
  13. Edwin Pereyra

    Edwin Pereyra Producer

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  14. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    This thread is now designated the Official Discussion Thread for "The Emperor's Club". Please, post all comments, links to outside reviews, film and box office discussion items to this thread.
    All HTF member film reviews of "The Emperor's Club" should be posted to the Official Review Thread.
    Thank you for your consideration in this matter.
    Crawdaddy
     
  15. Rob P S

    Rob P S Cinematographer

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    A superbly acted gem, with some welcome twists near the end. Travers hasn't been a credible critic since he trashed "Field of Dreams".
     

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