Rating: PG-13 for mild profanity
Run Time: 1 hour, 49 minutes
“A man’s character is his fate”. That eloquent statement, uttered in silver-tongued voice-over by erudite classics professor William Hundert (Kevin Kline), begins a pedantic journey that ultimately manages to transcend its saccharine side.
“Dead Poet’s Society” meets “Mr. Holland’s Opus” as the lads of St. Benedict’s School for Boys are lead along the path of virtue and integrity by the popular and idealistic Hundert. Hundert’s passion for the Greeks and Romans transforms his students into scholars, until the disruptive arrival of troublemaker Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch), the misguided scion of a powerful senator.
to reaching out and touching his students, Hundert is dismayed by his failure
to get through to the indifferent
twenty five years. Hundert has been
summoned for an informal class reunion by the grown (and wildly successful)
A delicate balance of nostalgia and contemporary themes win out over scripting pregnant with cinematic schmaltz. Hirsch and his young co-stars lend an adolescent charm to the proceedings, but Kline’s extraordinary performance is the linchpin - subtly hinting at unrequited passion, an unhappy childhood, and an overwhelming desire to advocate honor in the face of human shortcomings. Unexpected twists of fate earmark “Emperor’s” as a family film to be reckoned with.