A scene from Taylor Swift's latest music video Fortnight featuring Dead Poets Society actors Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles

A ‘Dead Poets Society’ Reunion in a Taylor Swift Music Video Was NOT on My Bingo Card

Not that I'm complaining.

The first music video of Taylor Swift’s The Tortured Poets Department was released one day after the album’s double drop—which included both the advertised version with sixteen tracks and The Anthology, which included a further fifteen tracks. To quote Hamilton, Swift really does write like she’s running out of time.

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The first music video is “Fortnight,” the album’s first single—and opening song—a collaboration with Post Malone. Shot in black and white and directed by Swift herself, the music video offers sweeping cinematic storytelling filled with the signature symbolism we have come to expect from the queen of Easter eggs. The black dog strolling through the frame, the typewriter calling back to the album’s eponymous track “The Tortured Poets Department,” the Victorian mourning dress, and even the little cats at the corners of the silent movie-era ending credits card. It’s all got meaning!

Swift wrote in her Instagram post announcing the music video release that “pretty much everything in it is a metaphor or a reference to one corner of the album or another. For me, this video turned out to be the perfect visual representation of this record and the stories I tell in it.”

But the most brilliant Easter egg of them all might be the unexpected reunion of a Dead Poets Society duo—something that I did not expect in the slightest but that filled me with delight, as someone who loves that movie so much she even has a tattoo dedicated to it.

In the scene where Swift is hooked up to some kind of electric shock machine, she is surrounded by scientists. Two of those scientists are none other than actors Ethan Hawke and Josh Charles—who both starred in the iconic 1989 coming-of-age drama. 

In Dead Poets Society, Ethan Hawke played the shy protagonist, Todd Anderson, who in 1959 began his junior year at Welton Academy, a prestigious all-male boarding school in Vermont. Thanks to his roommate, he meets his new friends, which include Josh Charles’s Knox Overstreet. They all attend the English class of their new teacher, the unorthodox Professor Keating, played by Robin Williams. Keating encourages all his students to carpe diem, that is, “seize the day”.

The movie’s title references the club that the protagonists create—or recreate since the club existed when Professor Keating was a student at Welton—where they gather in a cave in the woods to read poetry and pursue the arts.

The entire cast of Dead Poets Society, including Robin Williams as Professor Keating, Ethan Hawke as Todd Anderson and Josh Charles as Knox Overstreet
(They’re everything to me. image: Buena Vista Pictures)

When Taylor Swift announced that her upcoming album would be named The Tortured Poets Department, fans made the connection with Dead Poets Society instantly. Naturally, she has found a way to call back to DPS in her music video. Hawke and Charles even sport the name of their DPS characters on their lab coats to really drive that reference home. 

And as if I wasn’t already crying, Hawke wrote “carpe diem” on his Instagram post sharing the video (in addition to a throwback photo of himself and Charles). Nothing else to do but watch Dead Poets Society for the millionth time, I guess.

(featured image: Taylor Swift Productions)


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Author
Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.