The Emperor's Club

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The Emperor's Club is a 2002 film that takes place in a preparatory school called Saint Benedict's. It stars Kevin Kline, Edward Hermann, and Emile Hirsch.

William Hundert[edit]

  • As I've gotten older, I realize I'm certain of only two things. Forst, days that begin with rowing on a lake are better than days that do not. Second, a man's character is his fate.
  • According to Heraclitus, we cannot step into the same river twice. To put it another way, an opportunity lost stays lost forever. While I agree with the spirit of that saying, I have found that there are times when exceptions are granted. When Elizabeth returned from England and her marriage had ended, the waters we found ourselves in were as swimmingly lovely as when we first met. But if time made concessions for love, it made none for death. And when the beloved headmaster, Terrence Woodbridge, passed away, I found myself giving the oratory at his funeral. Though the Sedgewick Bell affair tested our friendship, he had, for half a century, been the the administrative and moral leader of Saint Benedict's; a position that was now incumbent upon me to assume.


First day of class
William Hundert: Your name, sir?
Martin Blythe: Martin Blythe?
William Hundert: Are you telling me your name or asking me what is it?
Class laughs
Martin Blythe: No sir, my name is Martin Blythe.
William Hundert: Very good. Mr. Blythe, would you...
Martin Blythe: sir?
William Hundert: Yes, you. Not Mr. Brewster behind you or Mr. Diebel sitting diagonally from you. Would you, Mr. Blythe; please read for us the plaque above the door?
Martin rises from seat and faces the door
Martin Blythe: I am Shoe-truck Naw-hunt-ee...
William Hundert: Louder, please. It is Shutruk Nahunte.
Martin Blythe{more commanding voice}: I am Shutruk Nahunte, King of Anshand and Susa, Sovereign of the land of Elam. I destroyed Sippar, took the stele..prounces it "steel"...
William Hundert{correcting}: "Stella"
Martin Blythe: Took the stele pronounces it "stella" of Naram-Sin, and brought it back to Elam, where I erected it as an offering to my god. Shutruk Nahunte - 1158 B.C.
William Hundert: Good job. Mr. Blythe, you may be seated. Shutruk Nahunte. Can anyone tell me who he was? Dumbfounded class Texts are permissible. A few students rifle their textbooks But you will not find him there. Mr. Hundert pulls down a color-coded map delinating the Persian Empire Shutruk Nahunte, sovereign of the land of Elam! Behold, his name cannot be found anywhere! Why not? Because great conquest without contribution is without significance! Unlike the giants of history you are seeing among you today...Mr. Hundert turns class' attention to sculptures...Plato...Aristotle...Cicero. What will your contribution be? How will history remember you? Unlike these men whose history survived beyond their lives and into our own; Shutruk Nahunte, utterly forgotten. My name is William Hundert, and welcome to Classics 101.

Dormitory Funk #49 by the James Gang is playing, the closest the boys will get to a stereotypical American high school experience. Mr. Hundert is inspecting the dorm to prepare for taps. He looks in one room and sees Louis Massoudi
Louis Massoudi: So there I was, minding my own business, when all of the sudden Mr. Hundert comes by and he says:
Louis Massoudi{stately voice impersonating Mr. Hundert}: Mr. Massoudi, follow the path, walk where the great men before you have walked!
Boys chuckle at Louis' impersonation, as does Mr. Hundert. Louis turns around to see Mr. Hundert
Louis Massoudi{surprised}: Oh, sir! I was, uh, just telling everyone who is boss!
Mr. Hundert: To bed.
Louis Massoudi: Yes, sir.
Mr. Hundert goes to next room which is occupied by Deepak Metha. Metha is reading a book on military science
Mr. Hundert: Carthaginians?
Deepak Metha: Yes, sir. Hamilcar Barca seems like an outstanding commander.
Mr. Hundert: Indeed. His only misfortune was being on the losing side. I hope you know that Hamilcar Barca is not part of our curriculum for Classics 101.
Deepak Metha: Indeed I do sir. Military science is more of a personal hobby of mine and I like to find out about generals not always covered in class.
Mr. Hundert: Excellent idea, Mr. Metha.
Mr. Hundert goes into passageway
Mr. Hundert{loud voice}: It is now 2100 hours. Lights out, gentlemen.

William Hundert: And with the demise of the Roman Monarchy, two new forms of government vied to take power in Rome. One was?
Martin Blythe: Republic?
William Hundert: Correct. Republic, or the rule of law, was the one that ultimately succeeded the monarchy. The other was?
Robert Brewster: Tyranny?
William Hundert: In spirit, perhaps, but ethymylogically, no. What was it?
Deepak Metha: Oligarchy?
William Hundert: Correct. Oligarchy, or the rule of a few. Tyranny is what we have here in this classroom, and it works.

James Ellerby: William!
William Hundert: Ellerby! How are things in the Latin Quarter?
James Ellerby: Could not be better. I wanted to give you this for recommending me for the job. Hands Mr. Hundert a book Now I know you probably already have one but this is a rare first edition. I found it in a marketplace in England.
Book: Ancient Rome by Douglas Hundert
Mr. Hundert looks in dust jacket to see a picture of his father in the "About the Author" section
William Hundert: So young when he wrote this...Well, thank you for your consideration.

Terrence Woodbridge: Our Mr. Julius Ceasar is a time-honored tradition at Saint Benedict's. It is a two-part competition for our Third Form. The first is a series of quizzes that all students take, narrowing down the competitors to three finalists. The second will be held in front of the entire school whereby the three finalists will be asked a series of questions on Greek and Roman history. An incorrect answer eliminates the contestant. The last man standing will be crowned Mr. Julius Ceasar. You father was a winner, was he not, Mr. Blythe?
Martin Blythe: Yes sir.
Terrence Woodbridge: Would you kindly point him out for us?
Martin Blythe: Certainly.
Martin Blythe shows a younger picture of his father, who looks like Martin wearing a toga and an olive crown
Terrence Woodbridge: A noble honor indeed.

Mr. Hundert is having the class recite the play Julius Caeser by William Shakespeare
Sedgewick Bell [as Brutus]: Oh Marc Antony, let us be sacrificers and not butchers.
William Hundert: Let us be sacrificers, but not butchers. Your Brutus lacks conviction, Mr. Bell. You are aware of what you are saying, do you not? The fate of the Roman Republic is at stake!
Sedgewick Bell [sarcastically]: Not for me.
William Hundert: Yes, I know not for you, but try to place yourself in the time period. You, Brutus, the noblest Roman of them all, are at the center of a conspiracy to assassinate Julius Caesar! And you believe this is for the good of all Rome. But you are struggling profoundly with the moral and physical implications of what you are about to do.
Sedgewick Bell: I do not agree with their plan.
William Hundert: Brutus does not agree with their plan?
Sedgewick Bell: No, I do not agree with their plan. They should kill Marc Antony as well as Caesar. Brutus is a coward!
Class laughs at Sedgewick
William Hundert [appalled]: A coward?! Because he has a conscience? Because he believes there is a wrong way and a right way?
Sedgewick Bell: In the end, Marc Antony ended up taking him down, right?
William Hundert: He and Octavian, yes. In a manner of speaking.
Sedgewick Bell: If he did what the other guy suggested, uh...uh...
William Hundert: ...Cassius.
Sedgewick Bell: ...yeah, that is it. If he did what Cassius recommended...Brutus might have gone on to become King!
Sedgewick gives smug look to class
William Hundert: Emperor, as a matter of fact. Which Brutus had no desire to be.
Sedgewick Bell: Whatever! He would have won!
William Hundert: Yes, but at what cost? Do you remember the lessons of Socrates?
Sedgewick Bell: Not really.
Class agains laughs at Sedgewick's flippancy
William Hundert: It is not living that is important, but living properly. Socrates chose to die an unjust death, a death he freely accepted, rather than break the laws of Athens to which he pledged his loyalty!
Sedgewick Bell: Another genius.

Classroom. Mr. Hundert is drawing a timeline on the blackboard. Sedgewick Bell orchestrates a prank by getting all the boys to slam their textbooks together to create a noise to startle Mr. Hundert. Hundert, having a good idea who the chief suspect behind that prank was orders Sedgewick Bell up to the blackboard
William Hundert: Mr. Bell, will you please finish my diagram for the class?
Robert Brewster: Oh ho, busted!
Sedgewick Bell stares at the blackboard like a dog staring at its reflection in water
William Hundert: Octavian was also known as Augustus and his title was ______?
Sedgewick Bell has the deer in the headlights look
William Hundert: Mr. Bell! An ordinary dung beetle traveling across the floor of this classroom would know the answer to that question!
Sedgewick Bell looks as if he hopes to find a dung beetle who will feed him the answer
Sedgewick Bell: Uh, Emperor?
William Hundert: Correct. Can you name any of the subsequent Roman Emperors? There were forty-one.
Sedgewick Bell: I only know seven.
William Hundert: Very well. Recite them.
Sedgewick Bell: Sleepy, Grumpy, Bashful, Doc, Happy, Sneezy,
Sedgewick Bell makes gesture as if smoking a marijuana joint
Sedgewick Bell: Dopey.
Class laughs at Sedgewick's flippancy
William Hundert: Can you, in fact, name any Emperor of Rome?
Sedgewick Bell: I know four. Let me see...
Sedgewick Bell [faux-British accent]: John, Paul, Ringo and uh, George!
Sedgewick Bell holds out his hand and conceals a finger each time he names a member of the Beatles, leaving out his middle finger. Class laughs uproariously at him being profane to his teacher
William Hundert: MR. BELL! A word of warning! As the great wit Aristophanes once wrote, loosely translated; "Youth ages. Immaturity is outgrown. Ignorance can be educated and drunkenness sobered, but STUPID lasts forever."
William Hundert: Class please recite, in chronological order, the entire line of succession for the Roman Empire.
Class [in unison]: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Nero, Galba, Otho, Pertinax, Marcus Aurielius, Commodus, Septimius...
Mr. Hundert raises his hand to halt recital
William Hundert: Thank you, class, that will do. Mr. Bell, you may be seated.
Sedgewick Bell looks embarassed that while the class may laugh at his role as the class clown, they are also serious students concerned with getting the most out of Mr. Hundert's class

Sedgewick Bell, Louis Massoudi, Deepak Metha and Martin Blythe are near the boathouse
Sedgewick Bell: My informants tell me there is a school full of girls over there.
Martin Blythe: Guys, this is getting out of hand. If we get caught they will kick us out and we do not get our tuition back! I cannot get expelled, I am a legacy! My father was a Mr. Julius Ceasar.
Louis Massoudi: Did he ever tell you what question he won on?
Martin Blythe: Did he ever not. What two tribes invaded Rome in 102 B.C? Answer: the Teutons and the Cimbri. That was the last sentence he spoke to me before I got to Saint Benedict's and he let me out of the car.
Boys are commandeering a boat to and sail towards Saint Mary's, a girls' school
Martin Blythe: Saint Mary's is by invitation only. I vote we go back to our dorm now!
Sedgewich Bell: Well I vote we check out Saint Mary's. What do you two say?
Louis Massoudi: I am in!
Deepak Metha: So am I!
Sedgewick Bell: 3-1. See, that is the trouble with democracy Martin.

Mr. Hundert's office. He hears knocking to the tune of "Shave and a Haircut"
William Hundert: Enter.
Sedgewick Bell enters Mr. Hundert's office
William Hundert: Mr. Bell.
Sedgewick Bell [impersonating a villian from a James Bond movie]: Mr. Hundert.
William Hundert: Do you know why I called you in here?
Sedgewick Bell: Student of the Month?
William Hundert: Hardly.
Mr. Hundert hands Sedgewick Bell his test
William Hundert: I awarded you one point because you spelled your name correctly. Mr. Bell, I do not know what you think you are doing but this is unacceptable work. You must apply yourself...
Sedgewick Bell [interrupting and not paying attention]: You are not married, are you, sir?
William Hundert: Yes, I am unmarried. Now what does that have to do with anything you are talking about?
Sedgewick Bell: That is why you like making us wear dresses.
William Hundert: I have made arrangements to meet with your father. Is there anything you would like me to tell him for you?
Sedgewick Bell [shocked that Mr. Hundert would go to such an extent]: Tell him...I said hello.

Senator Bell's office
William Hundert: That is why I am here Senator, I have come to see you about your son.
Senator Hiram Bell: Sedgewick? Oh Jesus, what the devil has he done now?
William Hundert: Sir, Sedgewick is not paying attention in class. Nor is he doing his reading assignments. I am sure Sedgewich is a bright boy, but..
Senator Hiram Bell [chuckling]: That is a horse that can talk! So basically what you are telling me is my son Sedgewick has got his head up his ass.
Mr. Hundert stammers at hearing such a crude remark
Senator Hiram Bell: Let me ask you something. What is the good of what you are teaching these boys?
William Hundert: The good?
Senator Hiram Bell: Yeah, the good.
William Hundert: Senator, the Greeks and the Romans established systems of popular involvement and the rule of law protecting the rights of everyone, respectively, which, I should not have to tell you, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution used as a model for the American constitutional republic. Besides that, I believe that the boys are put into direct contact with men from history such as Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. As a teacher it is my job to mold your son...
Senator Hiram Bell [interrupting and enraged]: Mold him? Mold him! Great God in Heaven you ain't going to mold Sedgewick! You are a teacher. Teach him why the world the round, teach him his times tables, teach him who killed whom in what battle and why. I sir, I will mold my son!

William Hundert: I met with your father.
Sedgewick Bell: So I have been told. He called me up and we had a real heart-to-heart.
William Hundert: I am giving you this.
Sedgewick Bell: What is it?
William Hundert: It is my textbook on classics when I was a high school student. Study Chapter 2. It has most of the material on tomorrow's quiz.
Sedgewick Bell: What for?
William Hundert: In preparation for the Mr. Julius Caesar competition. Sedgewick, I am giving you my book because I believe in you. You can be the top of your class if you wanted to be. It is up to you.

Mr. Hundert's office where he is grading papers
Mr. Hundert{talking to himself}: Good work, Mr. Bell!
School grounds. Mr. Hundert sees Sedgewick
William Hundert: Nice work, Mr. Bell, you got a "C".
Sedgewick Bell: Why the praise? It is only a C.
William Hundert: Well, you know what they say about Rome, do you not?
Sedgewick Bell: It was not built in a day?
William Hundert: No, all roads lead to it. chuckling You were right the first time, keep up the good work.

Mr. Hundert is walking by some boys playing baseball. Sedgewick Bell is pitching
Robert Brewster: Mr. Hundert, want to play?
William Hundert: No thank you.
Sedgewick Bell: Come on Mr. Hundert, let's see it done old school.
William Hundert: Old school, eh?
Mr. Hundert grabs a bat and swings at Sedgewick's pitch. He hits a pop fly that goes up into the air, then down towards the rear window of a car owned by Mr. Woodbridge, who just parked it. Baseball game dissolves and all the boys run into their dorm to avoid being spotted, to include Mr. Hundert. They spy on Mr. Woodbridge from the second story
Sedgewick Bell: Nice hit, Mr. H!
School green. Mr. Woodbridge holds the baseball in front of a student
Mr. Woodbridge: I suppose you are just as ignorant as everyone else about how this broke my car window.
Student: Honest sir, I had no idea what happened. I was not playing ball just now!
Mr. Woodbridge: Son, I think you have your future all set. I will write you a letter of recommendation for law school.

Mr. Julius Caesar semifinals
Mr. Hundert: This is the final quiz. It will carry much weight in determining your final standing in the rankings for the Mr. Julius Caesar final. You have three hours. Good luck.
Time progresses. Eventually each student finishes and submits the quiz. As time runs out the only ones still working are Martin Blythe and Sedgewick Bell. Martin submits his quiz. Sedgewick is still writing.
Mr. Hundert: Mr. Bell, I really need the quiz now. I am sorry but your time has expired.
Sedgewick raises his index finger whilst writing hurriedly
Mr. Hundert: Mr. Bell, time is up!
Sedgewick frantically works. Mr. Hundert slams a book shut, "getting his revenge" for the earlier class prank. Sedgewick is startled enough to surrender his quiz
Mr. Hundert's office. He has finished grading all the quizzes. His final rankings are: Louis Massoudi - 1st Deepak Metha - 2nd Martin Blythe - 3rd Sedgewick Bell - 4th. Sighing he remarks Sedgewick's quiz
Foyer. Boys excitedly wait to see the three finalists. Mr. Hundert posts notice
Louis Massoudi: Yeah, man!
Sedgewick Bell: I gotta call my dad!
Martin Blythe: Rats!
Outdoors. Mr. Hundert is walking when he sees a dejected Martin Blythe contemplating his apparent failure under a tree. Mr. Hundert realizes his quandry

Mr. Hundert: That was quite an interesting performance.
Sedgewick shows crib notes; tissue paper concealed inside his toga
Sedgewick Bell{sullen}: I knew you saw. How come you did not call me out?
Mr. Hundert: It is a complicated matter.
Sedgewick Bell: Was it on account of my father?
Mr. Hundert: That had nothing to do with your father.
Sedgewick Bell: Sure, Mr. Hundert, sure.
Mr. Hundert proceeds to his office. He is met by Mr. Ellerby
Mr. Ellerby: William! Quite the performance! You know, I was thinking we could move the Mr. Julius Ceasar competition to Alumni Weekend, instead of just any old day. That way we could have some former winners see the competition. Just some ideas which would auger well for your headmastership.
Mr. Hundert: Sedgewick Bell cheated.
Mr. Ellerby: What?! inside office, where Hundert reveals the confrontation Well, the pressure to succeed can be oppressive. Whether we think it was wrong or right, Woodbridge felt it in the school's best interest to give Sedgewick a pass. I mean, William, you did not put the boy on stage. He got that far on his own. And for that, you should be praised.
Later, by himself, Mr. Hundert is looking over Sedgwick's fudged grade
William Hundert{as narrator}: This began a long and rocky truce with Sedgewick Bell. Any trust we had in each other was snuffed out, as was any consideration by him with integrity and diligence. The subsequent years showed a series of pranks, crudeness and disrespect in general. Scenes show Sedgewick dumping water on other students or vandalizing the Julius Ceasar statue As for the other students, his effect on them was almost hypnotic. He went through the motions in his classes, and his grades were an avalanche of C-s, Ds & Fs.
1976. Sedgewick graduates Saint Benedict's (but barely)
Mr. Woodbridge: Sedgewick Hiram Bell!
Sedgewick walks across stage and shakes his rear end to an applauding audience
William Hundert{as narrator}: Although his father's connections and status guaranteed him a place at Yale, it was in the spring of 1976 with a sense of profound sadness that I handed Sedgewick Bell his diploma.

Board of review
Female Trustee: We have debated long and hard about taking you out of your classroom.
British Trustee: As you know, a headmaster's job is a rigorous one. One must be prepared to do battle 24 hours a day, sometimes it can feel like more.
William Hundert: Well, after rowing the lake every day for the past seven presidential administrations, with exceptions to inclement weather of course, I feel fit enough.
Polite chuckles
Female Trustee: Mr. Hundert, what we are saying is this. What kind of fundraising experience do you have?
William Hundert: What are you getting at?
Female Trustee: This is hard fact about Saint Benedict's. Enrollment is down. In light of what has happened recently, attendance at the military academies have spiked, and families are considering schools like Saint Benedict's as too old fashioned in this day and age. We need to stop doing outmoded ideas and look to the future. So..
William Hundert: Then who? Someone from the outside?
British Trustee: James Ellerby. Mr. Hundert is appalled at seeing a man who started work after him will become his boss You do realize he made application for the job, did you not?
William Hundert: Ellerby? Based on what credentials?
Female Trustee: It is not just credentials. James Ellerby is a forward-thinking man. He has helped this place to shed the image of a stodgy, "ivory tower", prep school by establishing ties in the local community.
William Hundert: Then you leave me no choice but to tender my resignation.
Board is shocked by this move
British Trustee: I would ask you not to do this! You are a teacher, and the finest one we have had. Mr. Hundert departs boardroom Please be assured Mr. Hundert, if you have a change of heart, the door is always open.

William Hundert: I should have known Ellerby was conducting a cloak & dagger behind the scenes campaign for years to take the top spot. He is godfather to children of two different trustees, for crying out loud.
Elizabeth Hundert: Here is to Saint Benedict's, and your unexpected retirement. Hunderts toast Now that that chapter is over in our lives, any future plans?
William Hundert: I have always wanted to go into my father's line of work; to write. I have a good idea for a fictional book about the rise of the Roman Republic.
Scenes show Mr. Hundert struggling with writer's block while Elizabeth tries to be supportive. One day Elizabeth enters his study
Elizabeth Hundert: James Ellerby is on the phone.
Headmaster's office. Mr. Ellerby shows Mr. Hundert a newspaper article depicting a full-grown Sedgwick Bell
James Ellerby: The merger a few years back made him CEO of one of the foremost conglomerates in America.
William Hundert: What does that have to do with this meeting?
James Ellerby: The library is badly in need of repairs. Sedgwick Bell's company has offered to build a new multimillion dollar library, entirely paid by Sedgwick, to be named in honor of his late father. However, that is contingent on one condition: that he have a reunion of your 1972 fall class with you hosting a rematch of the Mr. Julius Caesar competition.
William Hundert: Why now?
James Ellerby: He claims he wants to regain his honor and display his knowledge after all this time. If this library is built it would be the largest donation in the history of the school.
William Ellerby: And a retired classics teacher with no fundraising experience is the lynchpin in all this?
James Ellerby: Amazing how the wheel turns, William.
Scene changes to a road on Long Island. Mr. Hundert has been picked up in a limousine
James Ellerby{narrating as if still in his office}: Bell Industries owns a 5-star resort on the Gold Coast. You and all your students will be put up there.

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