Moonrise Kingdom Soundtrack

Moonrise Kingdom Soundtrack

May 30, 2012

Wes Anderson’s film work: occasionally pretentious, frequently beautiful and deceptively optimistic. There are few better film-makers when it comes to extracting quiet wonder from poignant melancholy. His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, takes in awkward and sweet childhood love; his own enchantment with his characters and their vulnerabilities is mirrored in this, his most ‘cinematic’ soundtrack to date.

Moonrise Kingdom Soundtrack. A lesson in subtlety

Featuring heavily are pieces from ‘The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra’, Benjamin Britten’s glorious composition for children’s musical education. His contributions deconstruct and simplify what makes up a whole (quite literally on occasion, as we are lead through pieces by speakers and narrators); Wes Anderson’s onscreen lead characters are more important than what is taking place around them, and this Truffaut-esque devotion to their world is smartly represented with the beautiful and childlike samples of different scores. Britten’s pieces (brought to life by Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic), like Moonrise Kingdom itself, flow from a child’s level, instead of talking downwards. It’s a theme that runs across the rest of the album, particularly with Alexandre Desplat’s musical tales of a rebellious coming-of-age. ‘The Heroic Weather-Conditions Of The Universe, Part 1: A Veiled Mist’ (and all of Desplat’s subsequent ‘Weather-Conditions’) is a delight; it’s a quest into the woods, an encounter with mud and insects and monsters and arriving home late for dinner. Devo’s Mark Mothersbaugh – the provider of a soundtrack to another generation’s childhood with his work as chief Rugrats scorer – skips in with ‘Camp Ivanhoe Cadence Medley’, a joyous game of Follow The Leader that marches into other boys’ own adventures like Hank Williams’ ‘Kaw-Liga’ and ‘Ramblin’ Man’.

There’s time to pause and take in the scenery though, with the likes of ‘Britten: “On The Ground, Sleep Sound” [A Midsummer Night's Dream / Act 2]’, an aching piece of orchestral bliss that lies in a star-lit field and recalls whatever confusing and overwhelming emotions accompanied the toils of growing up. ‘Le Carnaval des Animaux: “Volière”’, meanwhile, is the twitching, flute-lead excitement and innocence of the day that preceded it. A soundtrack so well-matched to its subject matter, so representative of a film-maker who installs his heartfelt sincerity into his work, is an alarming rarity; this record could so easily have veered into the hellish pits of cloying, syrupy sentimentality, or patronising cynicism. Its charm lies in its refusal to grow up.

Video Box


I like the 1980s, sunglasses, pondering, making new words out of Benedict Cumberbatch's name, cynicism, power ballads, Bruce Springsteen, saxophone solos, weird faces, writing Downton Abbey scripts in my head, TV shows about time travel, films with zombies, films with stop-motion animation, films with Tim Roth and not a lot else. I wish I was Christopher Walken.

Latest posts by Sarah (see all)

Play this site on