Verse On Screen: Poems Featured in Film - Rooftop Film Club

Rooftop Film Club


Verse On Screen: Poems Featured in Film

‘O Captain! My Captain!’ By Walt Whitman

From Dead Poets Society

Oh Captain! My Captain!

Who says it?

John Keating (Robin Williams) initially, however most of the boys say it together towards the end.

What happens?

Robin Williams stars as the inspirational teacher who encourages his class of boys to get into poetry. He quotes this poem and suggests that, if the boys are feeling brave, they may call him ‘Oh Captain, my captain’.

Watch it here.


‘Spring Morning’ By A. A. Milne

From Kindergarten Cop

If you were a bird, and lived on high,
You’d lean on the wind when the wind came by.
You’d say to the wind when it took you away,
That’s where I wanted to go today!

Where am I going? I don’t quite know,
What does it matter where people go?
Down to the wood where the bluebells grow,
Anywhere, anywhere, I don’t know.

Who says it?

John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

What happens?

Arnold Schwarzenegger stars as a police officer who starts working as an undercover kindergarten teacher. He reads an excerpt of this poem to the children as they fall asleep.

Watch it here.

Kindergarten Cop

‘Funeral Blues’ By W. H. Auden

From Four Weddings And A Funeral

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message ‘He is Dead’.
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now; put out every one,
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun,
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Who says it?

Matthew (John Hannah)

What happens?

This film is based around a love story, however, amongst the four weddings, the death of one of the main characters casts some darkness and the funeral is held. This poem is read by the deceased’s grieving boyfriend and it’s totes emoshe.

Watch it here.

Poem Four Weddings

‘To Autumn’ By John Keats

From Bridget Jones’s Diary

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

(They don’t get any further than that. Nice though, innit?)

Who says it?

Bridget Jones (Renee Zellweger)

What happens?

Bridget is dating lothario Daniel Cleaver. They go on a mini break and row on a lake reading poetry like a pair of drunk sailors. F*ck me, he loves Keats.

Watch it here.

Poems Bridget Jones Diary

‘Eloisa to Abelard’ By Alexander Pope

From Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d.

Who says it?

Mary Svevo (Kirsten Dunst)

What happens?

Joel and Clementine are undergoing a memory erasing process following a messy break up. Whilst Joel’s at the clinic, Mary, the receptionist discovers that she once had an affair with the married head of the company but she had her memory erased when his wife found out.

Watch it here.

Poems Eternal Sunshine

‘Leaves of Grass’ By Walt Whitman

From The Notebook

The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left from earlier fires,

Who says it?

Noah Calhoun, present day (James Garner)

What happens?

Noah reads to his wife who is suffering from dementia. He recalls reading poetry to her decades prior and recites a verse again. No, YOU’RE crying.

Watch it here.

Poem The Notebook

‘I Go Back to May 1937’ By Sharon Olds

From Into The Wild

I see my father strolling out
under the ochre sandstone arch, the
red tiles glinting like bent
plates of blood behind his head, I
see my mother with a few light books at her hip
standing at the pillar made of tiny bricks,
the wrought-iron gate still open behind her, its
sword-tips aglow in the May air,
they are about to graduate, they are about to get married,
they are kids, they are dumb, all they know is they are
innocent, they would never hurt anybody.
I want to go up to them and say Stop,
don’t do it—she’s the wrong woman,
he’s the wrong man, you are going to do things
you cannot imagine you would ever do,
you are going to do bad things to children,
you are going to suffer in ways you have not heard of,
you are going to want to die. I want to go
up to them there in the late May sunlight and say it…
but I don’t do it. I want to live. I
take them up like the male and female
paper dolls and bang them together
at the hips, like chips of flint, as if to
strike sparks from them, I say
Do what you are going to do, and I will tell about it.

Who says it?

Christopher McCandless (Emile Hirsch)

What happens?

Christopher has just graduated as a top student and athlete, but he’s feels trapped by the prospect of his prestigious future career so he does what every other normal person would do and runs away, changes his name and rids his life of possessions. Casual.

Watch it here.

Poems Into The Wild

‘Immortal Beloved’ By Ludwig van Beethoven

From Sex And The City

What longing in tears for you — You — my Life — my All — farewell. Oh, go on loving me — never doubt the faithfullest heart
Of your beloved
Ever thine.
Ever mine.
Ever ours.

Who says it?

Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker)

What happens?

In what is perhaps one of the worst TV to film adventures, with the obvious exception of Sex and the City 2, we see Carrie in a relationship with on/off/on/off/affair/on/off/on boyfriend, Big. In between beginning to wonder ridiculous things, Carrie gets engaged and begins to plan the extravagant wedding, looks like a total babe, and unsurprisingly, Big is a dick about it.

Watch it here.

Poem Sex and the City

‘Ulysses’ By Alfred Lord Tennyson

From Skyfall

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Who says it?

M (Judi Dench)

What happens?

M quotes this Tennyson verse whilst in court defending MI6 and the famous, reckless superhero in a tie, Agent 007. Probably too busy drinking Martinis with a bikini-clad woman to do it himself. Alright, he was chasing a villain, whatever. Anyway, if you ever find yourself in front of the tribunal court, or reprimanded by HR, or being told off for not having your purse ready at the tills, quote this, it’ll definitely (maybe) work.

Watch it here.

Poem Skyfall

‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’ By Dylan Thomas

From Interstellar

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night…
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Who says it?

Professor Brand (Michael Caine)

What happens?

Someone at NASA worked out that Earth faces a series of crop blights that threatens the survival of humanity, so Prof. Brand works out that the world’s entire population could be transported to another planet via a wormhole. So he sends former NASA pilots and researches tor work out which planet would work and which would potentially aggressively kill them. Who wouldn’t jump at the chance?

Watch it here.


Poems Interstellar