Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom follows twelve-year-old outsiders Sam and Suzy, as the pair run away together into the wilderness in order to escape the mundane. Featuring Anderson’s signature whimsical themes and strange humour, the film’s soundtrack expertly mirrors the plot, almost transporting the listener into the film and creating a deeply immersive experience.
The two protagonists first meet at a church production of Benjamin Britten’s childrens’ opera Noye’s Fludde, and the music of Britten features prominently throughout the film. The composer’s seminal childrens’ piece entitled ‘A Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ is also used to great effect, as Suzy’s three younger brothers huddle around their battery-operated record player.
This record player goes on to play a starring role in Sam and Suzy’s adventures, being one of the only material goods which she deems important enough to bring with her on the journey, such is the importance of music in the childrens’ lives.
While classical music surrounds the character of Suzy, Sam is a keen outdoorsman, and as such brings more tribal, western and campfire music to the film soundtrack’s narrative. ‘Camp Ivanhoe Cadence March’ features regimented drums and military precision, and acts as a reminder that the children are alone against the elements.
Of the popular songs and non-original recordings used in the film are several hand-picked gems, which work perfectly with the underlying classical themes and sense of childhood nostalgia that the film creates.
‘Kaw-Liga’, a country song written by the godfathers of the genre Hank Williams and Fred Rose tells the tale of a young American Indian works in harmony with Anderson’s idyllic shots of the New England wilderness, while Francoise Hardy’s haunting French pop song ‘Le Temps De l’Amour’ evokes the childrens’ sense of longing for a more interesting and beautiful life, away from their families and guardians who instil a sense of order.
Moonrise Kingdom is ultimately a story of total escapism and a search for freedom. The soundtrack compliments this message, and plays a vital part in getting across the underlying messages contained within the film.
Words: Lizzie Palmer