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The Emperor’s Club is an American drama movie directed by Michael Hoffman in 2002. Adapted from the short story “The Place Thief” written by Ethan Canin, this film focuses on the life of a prep school teacher, William Hundert, and his young students at a fictional boy’s prep school. William Hundert, acted by Kevin Kline, is a principled teacher who is passionate about Classics. He is dedicated to molding his students into honorable leaders of the future by using principles. His teaching method, however, is put to the test by Sedgewick Bell, the arrogant son of a U.S. Senator who is against Hundert’s principles. As the story unfolds, some famous quotations emerge, which really impressed me when I was watching the film. One of the quotations that touches me deeply is: “Not to know what happened before you were born is to be forever a child.” It is a well-known quotation from Marcus Tullius Cicero (3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC), who was a great Roman statesman, lawyer, orator and philosopher. This argument suggests the importance of learning history, as a person who does not know anything about the past is as ignorant as a child who could only be aware of his/her nearby surroundings and learn everything through first-hand experience. In the movie “The Emperor’s Club”, the hero William Hundert is a passionate teacher of Classics who works at a boarding school. He tells this quotation to his fresh-faced students in his class. Mr. Hundert believes that the study of history will help these students in growing into honorable leaders of the future. This quotation reminds me of a traditional Chinese saying: “Take history as a mirror and you will understand why dynasties rise and fall.”(Peng and Pan 2006) My grandmother told me this adage when I was a little girl, but I did not understand much about the saying then. My
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Christopher Reinemann
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