In Dead Poets Society (1989), in the school, why are they storing these guns in a showcase?

enter image description here

  • 2
    When guns are on display like this, they are usually rendered unable to discharge a bullet. They are safe to all concerned. But as a cinematic tool, they can be sending the subtle foreshadowing that a firearm will be used in the near future.
    – John
    Dec 6, 2016 at 21:04

1 Answer 1


The school in question is a fictional Private school. As such, the restrictions and laws governing Public schools are not the same.

Also, consider that Dead poets Society also came out a full decade before the Columbine High School incident, which really is a benchmark in that while school killings weren't unheard of, they hadn't been as widely publicized and brutally conducted.

Back to the school... In private schools such as the one depicted, it's not uncommon for a teacher to display a bit of themselves. Their passions. Their hobbies. It's pretty clear that the teacher in question was a gun enthusiast and possessed several guns which were displayed, from current smaller firearms to larger Revolutionary War-era muskets. You can see that each of them is tagged, though it's impossible to read the tags. I'm sure other teachers' offices might have displayed an arthropod collection or something else that gives you a little insight into who the teacher is and what that teacher's passion is.

Today, they may have been more sympathetic to school violence and changed what was in this office, but at the time the movie came out I'm sure it was perfectly acceptable.

So, to wrap it up, these guns are not being "stored" in showcases, they're being "displayed" in showcases.

  • 2
    The movie is also set in 1959.
    – BCdotWEB
    Oct 3, 2016 at 13:35
  • @BCdotWEB While it's true that the movie was set in 1959, the filmmakers of the time would have expected the 1990 audience to take their presence for granted while modern filmmakers would likely rewrite the scene so that their presence doesn't create an audience reaction that distracts from the rest of the scene. It's like the drunk driving scene in the 1959 North by Northwest; contemporary audiences were expected to find it hilarious, modern audiences are often horrified. If a remake happened, it would likely have the scene removed or rewritten. Jan 22, 2017 at 16:01
  • 1
    @Thunderforge: Whether a remake would or would not remove a scene is not relevant to whether a movie depicting a different time includes elements that are relevant to the depicted timeframe even if they are no longer applicable today. Whether these elements are or aren't included is at the filmmaker's discretion and examples of both exist.
    – Flater
    May 21, 2020 at 19:58

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .