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Steven Culp in "The Emperor's Club"

as Older Martin Blythe

US Release Date: November 22, 2002


A dedicated teacher learns some important lessons about himself years after he retired from the classroom in this drama.

William Hundert, St. Benedict's assistant headmaster, practices what he teaches. Striving to inspire his students to live rightly, he's the kind of impassioned, principled Classics professor who believes the history of the Greeks and Romans is more than just a lesson about the past. He also believes that the role of a teacher is not only to educate the pupil but to mold the pupil's character.

But in the fall of '72, Hundert finds his cloistered world of tradition and influence upended with the arrival of new freshman Sedgewick Bell, the son of a West Virginia senator. Almost immediately, teacher and student become embroiled in a turbulent battle of wills with repercussions that would still be felt a quarter of a century later.

Openly defying the hallowed hall's well-worn rules and challenging Hundert's authority, Sedgewick is an instant magnet for his classmates with his charisma and confidence. No pupil before him would ever have the nerve to go skinny-dipping with residents of the Girls school across the lake, nor lead his classmates in a perfectly timed slam of their textbooks. Nor dare to blaspheme Hundert's revered ancient Emperors by likening them to the Seven Dwarfs and The Beatles.

And yet, a desperate visit with Sedgewick's busy and equally strong-willed father convinces Hundert that he and his problem student share a common bond that makes it impossible for him to give up on the boy.

Determined to find a way to reach Sedgewick, Hundert unsettles him by offering a friendly truce. After a noticeable change in Sedgewick's attitude, Hundert slowly begins to bend his rules in order to win Sedgewick's trust. An impromptu baseball game becomes a bonding experience for the two.

Soon one compromise on Hundert's part begets another ... and then another ... and it's not long before the teacher's noble efforts to mold the student's character are in fact, having a more profound effect on his own. Faced with a King Solomon decision that would determine Sedgewick's fate, as well as the destiny of others, Hundert, for all the right reasons, finds himself making a choice that would haunt him for the next 25 years of his life.

Years later, Hundert is reunited with his students, where they learn the years have taught them all a great deal about their virtues and weaknesses.

Starring: Steven Culp, Kevin Kline, Emile Hirsch, Edward Herrmann, Joel Gretsch, Patrick Dempsey

Directed by: Michael Hoffman

Written by: Ethan Canin (short story "The Palace Thief"), Neil Tolkin (screenplay)

Distributor: Universal Pictures

Genre: Drama
"The Emperor's Club" Review Page

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