An Unfair Determination
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An Unfair Determination
Throughout the 2002 drama, The Emperors Club, director Michael Hoffman and producer Andrew Carech created a plot involving cheating, rebellion, unfairness and in some cases determination which unfolds continuously during the sequence of the movie. Taking place in a very high-class and respected school for boys, known as St. Benedicts Academy, the movie contained numerous surprising and rather disturbing events. The sophisticated and well mannered atmosphere of the school was brought to the viewers attention by the introduction of the main character, the teacher, Mr. Hundert. “He loved his job and had dedicated every moment of his life to shaping the character of the young men who came under his influence” (Brussat). The movie went on to introduce the Headmaster and further develop the “leader shaping” ambiance of the school.
With the introduction of Sedgewick Bells first appearance in Mr. Hunderts class room, the acts of cheating and rebellion began to take place. Hoffman shaped the character of Bell to stand out and make an obvious “trouble-making” appearance. From the beginning of Bells arrival, Mr. Hunderts authority and patience were forcefully tested. As the plot progressed and Seduichs stay became longer, the other boys who were at one point in time well-behaved and very obedient learners, began to follow in Sedgewicks footsteps. Hoffman continued to slowly reveal Bells rebellious influence on the others. They began to do as Sedgewick had done, breaking school rules and destroying property.
“The boy immediately shows his disdain for Hunderts seriousness about his subject. He becomes the instigator of many pranks on campus and the ringleader of a secret meeting with some students at a nearby private girls school.” (Brussat)
However, further in the movie, a transformation took part in both Mr. Hundert and Sedgewick Bell. After meeting with Sedgewicks father, Mr. Hundert finally gained control over Sedgewicks rebellious attitude. Bell became one of the top students in Mr. Hunderts class, and began to take doing well in school more seriously. However, Hoffman made it predictable to the viewers what would happen next with the single quote made during the narration by Mr. Hundert at the beginning of the movie, “A mans character is his fate” (Armstrong). Therefore, with the progress of Sedgewick Bell in his studies, came an expected downfall, bringing him back the very point at which he started from.
“We have seen it all before in one form or another, but director Hoffman, with great help from Kevin Kline, makes up care about this latest reincarnation of the worlds greatest teacher.” (Allen)
It was in the climax of the movie, the schools competition Mr. Julius Caesar, that Hoffman seemed to completely reverse the character of Mr. Hundert, bringing out the characteristics of unfairness, cheating, and determination in the movie. During the transformation of Sedgewick Bell, Mr. Hundert began to gain favoritism towards him. Therefore, when it came time to choose the top three candidates for the school competition, Mr. Julius Caesar, Hundert cheated and unfairly gave Sedgewick the third spot by giving him an A on his test, denying Martin Blythe a chance to be in the competition (Brussat). Hoffman left the viewers in shock of the decision of Mr. Hundert, and asking why. Hoffmans critic Ross Anthony states “Faced with the challenge of grading a noble effort and wanting to cheer it on as Mr. Hundert, Im afraid my deliberation between an A-; and a B+ yields a B+.” Hundert was determined to win Sedgewick Bell over, and successfully transform Bell into a studious young man and a well mannered and respectful leader.
The movie then shifts to the proud Sedgewick standing in front of the school along with the other two finalists, competing for the title of “Mr. Julius Caesar”. Hoffman continues to apply the factors of cheating and unfairness with the act of Sedgewick taping the answers of the questions on the inside of his toga. Hoffman also brings back the unfair decision made by Mr. Hunter, only to remind the viewers of the deceitful plot of the movie. The situation of Bells cheating strategies thickens as Mr. Hundert requests to call out Bell on his fault but; however, turned down by the Headmaster, asking only to ignore it and continue on with the competition. It is in this scene that Hoffman once again applies the catching quote made by Mr. Hundert at the beginning of the movie, “A mans character is his fate.” Although Sedgewick appeared to have improved in his studies as well as becoming more obedient, it was his true character that determined the outcome in the conclusion of not only the school competition, but the movie.
The next scene, Hoffman takes the viewers back to present day, showing Mr. Hundert aged and worn by his many years of teaching. Time had passed, and the inequitable event of Sedgewick Bell was soon forgotten. The movie seemed to have come to somewhat of a conclusion when Hoffman once again brings back the memory of Bell with an invitation requesting a weekend reunion and a rematch of “Mr. Julius Caesar”, at Bells business retreat. Unconscious of the true reasons for Sedgewick Bells reunion, Mr. Hundert agreed and began his preparations.