My verdict is in. Moonrise Kingdom has stolen my heart. This is one of the best and most original movies of 2012. (Of course, I’m still looking forward to Shut Up and Play the Hits, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Hobbit, The Bourne Legacy, Beasts of the Southern Wild, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looper, Argo, Flight, Skyfall, Hyde Park on Hudson, Les Miserables and The Great Gatsby –just to name a few!–). From cinematography, color, dialogue, screenplay, costume, set design, graphic design and music; Moonrise excels. EVERYTHING is manicured and oozes the definitive vision of Wes Anderson. I rank this movie along with my favorite Anderson films (The Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums).
Seeing Moonrise twice, gave me the ability to fully appreciate all of the dense detail in the movie that I did not see in my first viewing. You could live in Anderson’s movies. He crafts worlds full of an imaginative real life. Places that glorify everyday objects, colors, people and environments. He bends and weaves his stories through these elements with the end result being a truly real and fantastic experience for his audience.
On the music front, Anderson is a trendsetter. He has the ability to choose the perfect song for the perfect moment in all of his films. The soundtrack to the film is full of fully formed retro classics, children’s songs and an original score by Alexandre Desplat. My favorite musical moments in Moonrise: Sam and Suzy dancing on the beach to Françoise Hardy’s Le Temps de l’Amour, Sam rowing his canoe to Hank William’s Kaw-Liga and the beautifully riveting songs by Choir of Downside School. View the album art/tracklist below:
01 Leonard Bernstein & the New York Philharmonic – “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34: Themes A-F”
02 Peter Jarvis and His Drum Corps – “Camp Ivanhoe Cadence Medley”
03 English Chamber Orchestra, Benjamin Britten – “‘Playful Pizzicato’ from Simple Symphony, Op. 4”
04 Hank Williams – “Kaw-Liga”
05 Trevor Anthony, Owen Brannigan, David Pinto, Darian Angadi, Stephen Alexander, Caroline Clack, Marie-Therese Pinto, Eileen O’Donovan, Chorus of Animals, English Opera Group Orchestra, Merlin Channon, Norman Del Mar – “Noye’s Fludde, Op. 59: ‘Noye, Noye, Take Thou Thy Company'”
06 Alexandre Desplat – “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 1: A Veiled Mist”
07 Alexandre Desplat – “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 2: Smoke/Fire”
08 Alexandre Desplat – “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 3: The Salt Air”
09 Choir of Downside School, Purley, Emanuel School Wandsworth, Boys’ Choir, London Symphony Orchestra, Benjamin Britten – “A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 2: ‘On the Ground, Sleep Sound'”
10 Hank Williams – “Long Gone Lonesome Blues”
11 Leonard Bernstein & the New York Philharmonic – “Le Carnaval des Animaux: ‘Volière'”
12 Françoise Hardy – “Le Temps de l’Amour”
13 Alexandra Rubner, Christopher Manien – “An die Musik”
14 Hank Williams – “Ramblin’ Man”
15 Choir of Downside School, Purley, Viola Tunnard, Benjamin Britten – “Songs From Friday Afternoons, Op. 7: ‘Old Abram Brown'”
16 Alexandre Desplat – “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe Parts 4-6: Thunder, Lightning, and Rain”
17 David Pinto, Darian Angadi, Stephen Alexander, Owen Brannigan, Sheila Rex, Caroline Clack, Marie-Therese Pinto, Eileen O’Donovan, Patricia Garrod, Margaret Hawes, Kathleen Petch, Gillian Saunders, Trevor Anthony, Chorus of Animals, English Opera Group Orchestra, Merlin Channon, Norman Del Mar – “Noye’s Fludde, Op. 59: ‘The Spacious Firmament on High'”
18 Trevor Anthony, Chorus of Animals, Sheila Rex, David Pinto, Darian Angadi, Stephen Alexander, English Opera Group Orchestra, Merlin Channon, Norman Del Mar – “Noye’s Fludde, Op. 59: ‘Noye, Take Thy Wife Anone'”
19 Leonard Bernstein & The New York Philharmonic – “The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, Op. 34 Fugue: Allegro Motto”
20 Choir of Downside School, Purley, Viola Tunnard, Benjamin Britten – “Songs From Friday Afternoons, Op. 7: ‘Cuckoo!'”
21 Alexandre Desplat – “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe, Part 7: After The Storm”
Pitchfork posted a really interesting interview with Anderson and music adviser Randall Poster last week. Read the full interview after the jump.
The influential director and his longtime music supervisor Randall Poster talk about the sound and vision of their latest collaboration, Moonrise Kingdom.
By Ryan Dombal, June 27, 2012
Photos by Niko Tavernise
Whether it’s Max Fischer dancing in slow motion to the Faces’ “Ooh La La” at the close of Rushmore, or Margot Tenenbaum stepping off of a Green Line bus while the bittersweet strums of Nico’s “These Days” back her in The Royal Tenenbaums, or in the new Moonrise Kingdom, young runaways Sam and Suzy growing up fast to Françoise Hardy’s “Le Temps de L’Amour”, Wes Anderson has racked up plenty of memorable movie moments that are inextricable from their accompanying music over the last decade and a half. Along with his longtime music supervisor Randall Poster, Anderson has a knack for mining pop’s past– from British Invasion rock like the Kinks and the Stones, to the Ramones, to the Beach Boys– to find just the right melodies and tones to draw out the emotions of his films. In a way, he’s one of the greatest and most influential music video directors of our time.
Moonrise Kingdom has Anderson and Poster chasing new muses, namely 20th-century British classical composer Benjamin Britten and country legend Hank Williams. The work of both artists are featured prominently in the characteristically meticulous movie, which chronicles the adventures of a pair of 12-year-old outcasts who, after being rejected by their peers and families, find solace in each other. Britten’s 1957 children’s opera Noye’s Fludde (Noah’s Flood) plays a particularly large role as both a key inspiration and a main set piece within the film. With both the film and its soundtrack out now, we spoke with Anderson and Poster separately about music and movies, and the uncanny ways they can work together.
Pitchfork: What kind of music fan were you as a teenager?
Wes Anderson: I had a friend who introduced me to a lot of music when I was in eighth grade, and that’s when I started to get into it. But I never had that many records. You used to have people who were buying vinyl and putting them in these little plastic sleeves, and alphabetizing them in rooms that were converted into entire libraries of their record collections. I wanted to be that, but I never accomplished that.
Now, I have lots more than I did then. But, just like everybody else, it’s in all different formats. Half the stuff is just on a hard drive. I don’t even know which computer certain things are on; I can’t find something because it’s on a hard drive in New York and I’m in England.
Pitchfork: A lot of the music you use in your films is at least a few decades old, do you keep up with contemporary music at all?
WA: I do, though you wouldn’t put me at the top of the list of people who can turn you onto the latest. Jason Schwartzman, for instance, is somebody I often learn new things from. And my music supervisor Randall Poster’s got his ear to the ground– is that the expression? Must be a railroad expression.
Pitchfork: It’s a little ironic that you’re known as a music tastemaker since you don’t really consider yourself to be that even among your friends.
WA: I don’t like to consider myself anything but, for my movies, the music plays a big part, and I’m usually using music that I have a personal connection to. I don’t mean it as anything other than that. It’s not meant to do something outside the movie. It’s meant to be a way to create the atmosphere and have a place in the emotions of the film.
Pitchfork: There’s a lot of classical music in Moonrise Kingdom, what’s your personal relationship with that genre?
WA: I’m not really super knowledgeable about it. My older brother knows more than I do, he’s a good piano player. But I was in the chorus of this production of Britten’s Noye’s Fludde when I was a kid. My friend Sanjay and I were a pair of otters.
Pitchfork: Were you in costume for that performance?
WA: Yeah, you can’t just walk in there. So I loved the music at the time, and I’ve never forgotten it. It was a large-scale theatrical experience– even though it wasn’t in a professional atmosphere, there were some professional musicians involved. Then, in the last eight years, I got more interested in Britten, so when it came time to do this movie, I was already thinking about a number of Britten pieces that were written for children.
Pitchfork: Britten wrote Noye’s Fludde for amateurs to play, and even though it’s classical music, there seems to be a bit of a punk ethos to that idea, too.
WA: Yeah, there’s a punk reading of it, at least. But nowadays, when people write rock’n’roll music they’re writing it for their band or themselves– it’s generally not written for somebody else to do. That’s been the predominant mode for some time. But there’s something nice about somebody writing music to be put it into a repertoire that different people can do in different places. It’s unusual.
Britten conducted and produced and directed the first production of Noye’s Fludde, but after that, it becomes something where a group of people in Texas can get all these pieces of sheet music, and this instruction manual, and do their own take on it. I bet it’s a fun thing to experience different versions of what you’ve written.
Pitchfork: The film starts off with the visual of a record player spinning, which makes sense since it’s set in the 60s. But still, it’s hard to imagine someone listening to music on anything but a record player in any of your movies.
WA: Actually, in The Darjeeling Limited, Jason Schwartzman is walking around with an iPod and some kind of huge battery-powered speaker thing. And I’m not really a vinyl guy. But, just as a visual to go along with music, digital numbers ticking off is not quite as romantic as watching something that spins. I’ve always been drawn to that a little more and, in this film, I have a perfectly valid excuse.
Pitchfork: You weren’t hugely familiar with classical music before working on Moonrise Kingdom, so when Wes came to you wanting to use a lot of classical pieces, what did you think?
Randall Poster: Before there was any script or storyline for this film, Wes said, “I really want to do something with Britten’s Noye’s Fludde.” I’ve worked with Wes on all his movies, and there’s usually a song or musical moment that becomes this seed from which the whole story grows. The way we work is that when Wes has inspiration, I basically go and try to get our arms around the entirety of it. So at that moment, I started collecting all of Benjamin Britten’s recordings and familiarizing myself with his history and music. It’s like being in school. It’s on me to become as much of an expert as I can be, and that’s what’s exciting about it– it’s not just about honing in on what’s happening in the world of music today. It opens you up to things that you weren’t familiar with.
Pitchfork: Your job almost sounds like a journalistic enterprise.
RP: It is like being a journalist, but it’s also like being a detective– sometimes it’s also actually finding the music. For The Darjeeling Limited, Wes thought we should use music from other Indian movies, and specifically the films of Satyajit Ray. And that took me to India, to the Satyajit Ray Foundation, where I begged them to transfer the master tapes to CD for us.
Pitchfork: How has the internet affected what you do?
RP: It’s been great. When I started out, there was no internet, and if I’d have to go to L.A. for a project, I literally would bring suitcases full of CDs. There were times when I’d have to be there when Tower Records opened in the morning, and hopefully they had that CD I was looking for. So the internet has definitely made certain things easier.
Pitchfork: Do you still keep up with what’s going on in music today, or is music more of a project-to-project interest for you?
RP: Thankfully, I still have a physical response to new music, not just an intellectual understanding of it. I feel very lucky that that’s the case. It’s not like, “I know that Japandroids are cool, but I’m over it.” To tell you the truth, if I don’t have to catch a sight of myself in the mirror, I’m still that geeky 16-year-old kid responding to music.
But I think people do get detached from it. Because there’s such a proliferation of music, when people step out of it a little bit, they feel lost and they give up. They need a little bit of direction or context; lost youth is a very complicated situation to find yourself in.
I’m accustomed to being the oldest person at a gig, but when I went to see Skrillex at Roseland this year, it was dramatic. There were a lot of kids that looked like they were 15 years old. But I loved it. I truly loved it. I think Skrillex is just brilliant. When I walked into that club, I felt like I swallowed the music– it was like Alien, like it went into me.
I’m working on Harmony Korine’s movie Spring Breakers now, and Skrillex is doing original music for us. I had heard of Skrillex, but I wasn’t watching it that closely. And Harmony, who I’ve worked with forever, sent me a link to some Skrillex YouTubes, and I saw one had 54 million hits– I thought he had somehow figured out a way to manipulate the numbers. And then it dawns on you: There are kids that are never going to buy a record. They’re just going to play songs on YouTube.
Pitchfork: That sounds like a real whiplash, from Benjamin Britten to Skrillex.
RP: That’s what fun about it. I don’t get trapped in anything. I get to refresh. Especially when you get work with people as visionary as Harmony and Wes; when Wes points you in a direction, you know it’s going to be like water in a desert, something you want to jump into really deeply.
Pitchfork: Wes’ films are sometimes criticized for being too twee and manicured, though the music in these films– from the British Invasion stuff to the Hank Williams songs in Moonrise— is often anything but.
RP: Emotionally, the music is not contained or twee. Wes is nobody’s pussy. He’s a fighter. He just has his vision and his obsessions.
Pitchfork: Do you ever think about whether your work with Wes has inspired people to make music, or opened them up to new sounds?
RP: In the course of the 16 years that we’ve worked together, a lot of bands have been born, and I think there have been some inspired by Wes, to a certain degree. And when kids come up to you and they’re like, “Rushmore really opened me up to a whole world of music,” that’s the absolute greatest. Both of us have shared the experience of being the kid in the dark, watching the movie and just saying, “Oh my God, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen.” And when you feel like you’ve affected another kid sitting in the dark, that’s a great reward.
Bonus Moonrise images cause you read the whole post (yesssss!!):