The Emperor's Club movie review, dvd, posters
The Emperor's Club Poster

The Emperor's Club
Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsch

Directed by Michael Hoffman
Rated PG-13 for some sexual content

***1/4 out of 4 Stars, Movie Grade: A-
movie trailer

Released November 22, 2002

Running time: 109 minutes

by Kevin Lang

It is true that most teachers don't get the credit that they deserve, nor the salary. They struggle daily to reach children where the parents have failed, and often it is only then that the children begin to succeed academically. This was all the more true in "The Emperor's Club" starring Kevin Kline and directed by Michael Hoffman.

Kevin Kline played a teacher of history at St. Benedicts School for Boys. In his first year of tenure at the school, he found himself struggling to reach Sedgewick Bell (Emile Hirsch), a neglected senator's son whose unruliness and disregard for his studies proved to be a formidable obstacle for Professor Hundert (Kevin Kline). The professor tried his hardest, and he even bent his own ethical principles for the young man after he showed a great deal of promise.

However, after Professor Hundert caught Sedgewick cheating on the school's highly regarded Julius Caesar Competition, he felt that he had failed as a teacher. This is an amazing characteristic of most teachers, or at least the one's who we learn the most from, to care so much about educating each child individually that when they fail with one, they feel that they in a way have failed on the whole. This feeling often remains with them, lingering long after that child has moved on from their classroom.

This was the case with Professor Hundert in "The Emperor's Club," who we found a quarter century later still remembering Sedgewick Bell with a profound sense of failure as a teacher. Yet, the lesson that Hundert learned in the end is one that made "The Emperor's Club" a truly memorable film. It showed that no matter what our age, we never stop learning, whether it is from a textbook or more often than not, from our own life experience.

In this sense "The Emperor's Club" was not at all similar to "Dead Poets Society." Outright, "Dead Poets Society" may have been a stronger film, but "The Emperor's Club" held a quiet strength that came through in its somewhat unexpected conclusion, which brought the entire film together.

Overall, "The Emperor's Club" was a unique film that was subtle yet effective in its attempt to deal with the challenge that teachers face and the ethical choices that they are confronted with. Kevin Kline gave an impassioned and heartfelt performance as Hundert.

"The Emperor's Club" Review written November 19, 2002, CTF.

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