I don’t think there’s anything more beautiful than a soundtrack that can tell a story by itself. Or one that can bring every section of the film flooding back as if it were right in front of your eyes. To get the music to fit perfectly to a story is almost an art, and Wes Anderson manages to pull it off to perfection every time. But it’s the Royal Tenenbaums that I believe to his pinnacle of his collection.
Anderson’s newest release, The Grand Budapest Hotel received glowing reviews, and with good reason too. It was magnificent, charming, mesmerising – is it obvious that I fell in love? Even so, for me, it didn’t even come close to comparing to the Royal Tenenbaums. So what is it exactly that makes it so special? Well, that would be the soundtrack. And in my opinion, it is the most overlooked and underrated soundtrack of all time.
Behind the beauty and the dry humour of the film, are a series of disillusioned and troubled characters, all tackling some sort of personal crisis. And even though Mothersbaugh’s score totally highlights the wacky side of the story (there’s a pink slack-wearing Indian butler called Pagoda and two kids in matching red tracksuits called Ari and Uzi), the rest of the soundtrack seems to be somewhat personal to each and every character.
It’s grand, it’s beautiful, it’s touching. It’s exactly what it should be for that opening scene
The film opens with The Mutato Muzika Orchestra’s version of The Beatles’ classic Hey Jude, and plays throughout the prologue, in which the tale of the troubled yet blessed upbringing of the three Tenenbaum children is told. It’s grand, it’s beautiful, it’s touching. It’s exactly what it should be for that opening scene, and it makes me smile every time. One of the most memorable parts of the soundtrack is These Days by Nico, which is played during the reuniting of adopted brother and sister, who have grown to fall in love with each other. Isn’t that perfect? I don’t know how they did it but my breath hitches every time I watch it. There are more high points to the soundtrack, like Van Morrison’s Everyone (that’s actually played in a funeral scene) and Paul Simon’s Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard.
But the most unforgettable scene is that of an attempted suicide throughout which Elliott Smith’s Needle In the Hay is played. I could not think of a more fitting song. It’s so simplistic and yet haunting, just like the scene itself. It’s the kind of scene that chills you to the bone, that makes your heart physically ache because you can see the heartbreak in Richie’s eyes and that fucking song is just so right… Man, I’m welling up now! And then there’s the rest of the soundtrack, with Ruby Tuesday by the Rolling Stones, some Nick Drake, Ramones, The Clash. It’s mature, slightly sophisticated, troubled and humorous all rolled into one. What it is, is soundtrack heaven.