Wes Anderson’s ear for music is as great as his eye for visual style. Much like Scorsese or Tarantino, Anderson is a master of combining sound and picture to tell a compelling story. He blends soundtrack and score perfectly for each of his films’ unique setting. The soundtrack for the film Rushmore was the first soundtrack I ever bought and began my interest in film soundtracks and score composition. One of my favorite aspects of Wes Anderson’s films are his long song sequences using large portions of popular music, and I’ll be discussing my favorites here.
The Darjeeling Limited: “Strangers” by The Kinks
While The Darjeeling Limited only has five songs from non-Indian artists to choose from, they are each very wisely chosen. The song I chose is one of three Kinks songs in the film, “This Time Tomorrow” and “Powerman” bookend the film nicely, but “Strangers” is used at a pivotal point in the film. Through this sequence we see the characters grow and truly begin the “spiritual journey” they have supposedly been on since the beginning of the film.
The Royal Tenenbaums: “These Days” by Nico
The soundtrack for The Royal Tenenbaums is probably the most diverse of all the Wes Anderson films. Instead of relying on the 1960’s UK rock bands that are typically in his films, we hear songs from Van Morrison, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, and The Clash amongst others. The reason I pick “These Days” performed by Nico and written by Jackson Browne is because it shows a particularly sweet moment between characters that is rarely seen in any of Wes Anderson films. This scene is one of my favorites in the film because it is one of a few understated moments where you can see that this group of people that can barely be described as a family, do deeply care for one another. It is also (if I’m not mistaken) the only time in the film Margot Tenenbaum has a smile on her face.
Rushmore: “A Quick One, While He’s Away” by The Who
As I stated in my intro, the soundtrack for Rushmore as well as the film itself holds a special place in my heart, while I don’t think it is the best WA film it was my first introduction and it is definitely one of the funniest. This sequence I chose is one of the funniest moments in the film as a middle-aged man and a teenage boy engage in a quickly escalating series of revenge tactics. The song by The Who works two-fold for me. Firstly it’s a fantastic song in itself which, throughout its almost nine minute runtime goes through a handful of various moods and styles. Second the irony of the repeated lyric “you are forgiven” in the song at a time in the film when the characters could not hate each other more just adds so much more to the comedy.