Wes Anderson is one of the most loved and appreciated film directors and screenwriters in movie history and has always enchanted the audience with memorable stories that speak to the heart, making the public really passionate about his creations. He never disappoints and always comes with something original and distinctive that truly changes the perceptions regarding the art of cinema and how it should be at a high level.
A magician of colors, a mad lover of symmetry, an eccentric writer of quirky dialogues, a true architect of set designs and a pure nostalgic are only a few words that can describe the subtle and complex artist that is Wes Anderson, the creator of a visually-stunning universe.
His films are easy to recognize and attract the people because of their unique style, their strong and fascinating way of seeing life and its wonders, and nevertheless the intense feeling that invades the soul while enjoying his art.
Music is an essential element in Wes Anderson’s movies, helping create a melancholy aura that reflects his characters emotions in a romantic manner and illustrates warm vintage atmosphere. His fine selection makes those scenes absolutely unforgettable, and we should also thank Randall Poster, the music supervisor, who teams every time with Anderson for a lovely sound experience.
The music used is very diverse, starting with the jazzy Bottle Rocket and touching on British rock bands and Portuguese David Bowie covers before ending with the classical score from The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The list below presents 15 pop and rock songs from ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s that were used in some iconic scenes in Wes Anderson’s films, remembering some old tunes that will never fade.
1. Love – Alone Again Or (Bottle Rocket, 1996)
Wes Anderson’s first film, Bottle Rocket, features also the debut of two actors that will appear in many of his following movies, Owen and Luke Wilson. In a comedy about crimes and robbery, there is a moment of great intensity and sensibility that is set to a wonderful song from the ‘60s performed by the American rock group Love.
“Alone Again Or” predicts the sadness and failure from the end but gives Anthony (Luke Wilson) a short time to experience the pleasures of a rushing love. The scene is touching and unforgettable in a very sincere way. The original score of the movie is very jazzy, but the moments that feature rock songs like this one or The Rolling Stones’ “2000 Man” and The Proclaimers’ “Over and done with” are worth the time.
2. The Kinks – Nothing In This World (Rushmore, 1998)
The quietly sad and nuanced performance of Bill Murray matches perfectly with the song of the British band The Kinks. Jealousy is aching Herman Blume’s heart as he’s watching his wife flirting with a younger man and tries to ignore this moment by throwing golf balls in the pool.
This feeling is getting more and more intense, but Blume manages to keep his calm and escapes this cruel situation by throwing himself in the water. It’s the moment that ends his feelings for his wife and opens his eyes about Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), the new teacher assigned to Rushmore, also Max Fischer’s (Jason Schwartzman) love interest.
3. The Who – A Quick One, While He’s Away (Rushmore,1998)
Max Fischer is the epitome of teen eccentricity and Jason Schwartzman’s performance is absolutely flawless, regardless of the fact that it was his debut in cinema. Max’s maturity always made him be seen as an adult child, an odd and intelligent student who falls for an older woman, Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), an elementary school teacher at Rushmore Academy. Herman Blume (Bill Murray) is a cynical industrialist who finds his life frustrating, but once he meets Max, he is impressed by his unique attitude.
The things get worse between them when they discover that they have a mutual love for the new teacher. The strange hatred that they share makes this revenge scene one of the most important and unforgettable in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore. Nothing compares to The Who’s “A Quick One, While He’s Away” here.
4. The Faces – Oh La La (Rushmore,1998)
A song of wisdom ends a timeless movie that teaches us that “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, sometimes you might find you get what you need” as Mick Jagger says in one of his tunes. The dance of Max Fischer (Jason Schwartzman), the strange but interesting student of Rushmore Academy and Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams), the much older teacher, is one dominated by true friendship, platonic love and hope in things getting even better.
The lyrics, a masterpiece of the band The Faces, resume perfectly the whole movie, “Oh La La” being the best match for the ending scene. Many fans consider this ending the best slow motion in a Wes Anderson film.
5. Nico – These Days (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001)
A scene full of melancholy and sadness that became one of the most known and appreciated slow motions in movie history. Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow), an unhappy wife and a rebel and eccentric woman, meets her brother after many years that torn them apart. Richie (Luke Wilson), a retired tennis player, has always been in love with his adopted sister, but her solitary and introvert way of being have represented also a mystery for him, deciding to keep his feelings secret.
Their meeting is an intense one and even though they are silent, their eyes speak thousands of words that only they could understand and feel. Nico’s song “These days” reflects their inner thoughts and emotions, letting Wes Anderson create a simple but terribly beautiful moment.
6. Elliott Smith – Needle In The Hay (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001)
The unfulfillment in life and the anxiety caused by the lack of love from Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) push Richie (Luke Wilson) to the limits. Suicide is the only way he could escape this absurd existence as he lost his meaning in life, his pride and even his hope. This scene of perfect symmetry shows a destroyed Richie Tenenbaums, once a shining superstar and a child prodigy.
The medium close-up shot, the discontinuous editing and the flashbacks contribute to the subtle feeling of despair that is created here. “Needle in the Hay”, a song of touching sadness, is the mirror of Richie’s soul at this moment. Elliott Smith’s haunting voice amplifies the darkness of the moment, leaving the shaving scene one of the most powerful in Wes Anderson’s filmography.
What is even more disturbing is the fact that Elliott Smith committed suicide two years after the release of the movie. He also said that he was unhappy to see his song used in such a scene.
7. Van Morrison – Everyone (The Royal Tenenbaums, 2001)
Family is a recurring element in Wes Anderson’s movies, showing its importance and influence into the life of a human. Each member is deeply characterized and has something original and a unique attitude and fashion style. The Royal Tenenbaums is a clear example of this kind, portraying the satisfactions and the struggles of a family led by a selfish and ignorant father.
The last scene represents his funeral, a weeping moment but also hopeful. The members are the ones that have to go on with their lives and enjoy them to the fullest. Now they are reunited and feel more confident as they are together, because of their father who realized before he died that the greatest gift is to see your dearest ones happy. The movie ends with a slow motion matched wonderfully with Van Morrison’s tune “Everyone”, an alternative ode to the magic of being together.