Undoubtedly, music is used in cinematography for a reason; it was there when no words might be heard and thereafter. The function of music is to support and, sometimes, conduct a certain message, which cannot be rendered by words and appeals to the inner being of the audience. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to discuss intangible matters that cannot be embedded in words, since they are perceived by inner feelings, and music in films is oriented to reach out to the strings of our souls.
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Poetry has a special place in the story, with Walt Whitman being an icon for teens. The idea expressed by Mr. Keatings, played by Robin Williams, is that freedom of the soul is expressed in the verse, letting the most timid boy become a man of integrity. This and other topics are supported by music written specially for the film, and the soundtracks are called by names of people and moments in the film. “Carpe diem” is a main theme, in both music and the story. The new teacher ignites the passion to not only poetry but to becoming somebody, as well. “Neal” is a song in a background, when the future club with a chief talk to their inspirer Keatings. It seems more like a noise in a music classroom, emphasizing that young men are only in the beginning of their way, learning how to understand poetry. They venture to go to the cave at night to have their first official meeting. “To the Cave” is the song in the background. Its name perfectly describes its content. Night, capes, creaking floor, flashlights and foggy forest – all these are reflected in music, making the viewer one of those young men, breaking rules and boundaries to taste freedom. One can feel his heart thumping, both from fear of being exposed and from excitement of touching the unknown.
“Let’s Have A Party” is a song that elevates a person, setting him in a good mood. This is what happened to the boys after the night; their radio worked out, they danced and had fun, Todd tried to write a poem and Neil got a role in a play. However, the song stops when Neil realizes the cost of his dream. Ludwig Van Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 5 Op. 73 can be heard when Neil asks for advice from ‘Oh Captain, My Captain’ – Mr. Keatings – whether to reject his father’s will or subdue to his tyranny. This beautiful melody is both inspiring and melancholic, which perfectly describes the state of a young man. On his returning home after his triumph on stage, Neil decides to commit a suicide. The culmination of his disbelief in the future and absolute loss of reality is expressed in the soundtrack “Rainbow Voice”, which awakes the transcendent sensation of existence, making one think about life and death and their meaning. The next composition is called “Death of A Child” and it describes the feelings of Mr. Keatings, who cries sitting in his classroom over a book that prompted the young man to acquire willpower, and feelings of Todd, who lost his friend and leader.
First love is another topic that is covered in the film. When one of the boys falls in love with a beauty, who has a boyfriend already, he cannot resist his feelings. He first meets her when he is invited to her place by her parents; “Carpe Diem” sounds every time he is on his way to see her since it is a very romantic and thrilling composition, reminding everyone the feelings a young man experiences when he sees his beloved. The sound of saxophone in the cave casts the spirit of adventure on the young fellow, making him go and tell about his feelings. It should be mentioned that “Stranded in the Jungle” by The Cadets, which sounded when he comes to the party, where everyone is getting drunk and crazy. This song is suitable for that very moment, adding to the ongoing events in the house.
There are moments in the film when music becomes even more important than the picture. For example, the soccer game when youngsters score a goal and carry their Captain, raising him high above their heads. “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven, a famous masterpiece, is truly expressing the joy that those kids feel. It is more than happiness for winning the game, but for becoming truly free inside. Mr. Keatings turns on Handel’s Suite No. 2 in D major made them read verses and kick soccer balls, which add to the theatrics of the moment.
Dead Poets Society