The 15 Most Memorable Songs Used In Wes Anderson Movies

8. The Zombies – The Way I Feel Inside (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004)

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is one of the most loved movies of Wes Anderson, especially because of the amazing color palettes and the nostalgic feeling that is evoked. Zissou is an apathic oceanographer and documentarian that wants to discover the shark that killed his best friend. While he was looking for it along with Ned (Owen Wilson), a young man who believed Zissou was his Father, the helicopter crashes, injuring Steve but also causing Ned’s death.

He is then buried at sea in a heart-breaking scene. The ‘60s British band The Zombies illustrate through their sad song “The Way I Feel Inside” the feelings of regret that Zissou is experiencing in his heart. The lyrics are extremely simple, but very poetic and melancholic. The scene remains the most tragic in this film, reflecting also Wes Anderson’s delicate selection of good music.


9. David Bowie – Queen Bitch (The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, 2004)

Another iconic ending in a slow motion that makes The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou absolutely unforgettable. Zissou, now an acclaimed personality in oceanography because of his latest documentary, is not very impressed by all the fuss that is created around his image. He still regrets his two major losses in life: his best friend and Ned, and chooses to remain untouched by the feeling of celebrity.

“Queen Bitch” is a rock song by the amazing British singer David Bowie that ends the film powerfully by letting the audience to expect much more adventures from Steve Zissou. The soundtrack contains a lot of tunes from David Bowie, most of them being Portuguese covers performed by Seu Jorge.

The song is from the 1971 album Hunky Dory and is a tribute to the band The Velvet Underground, another Wes Anderson favorite.


10. The Kinks – This Time Tomorrow (The Darjeeling Limited, 2007)

Wes Anderson is a true lover of slow motion and he really knows when to use it properly in an emotional and artistic way. It is already one of his trademarks, along with the symmetry, color palettes, quirky dialogues and his favorite themes: love, family and vintage atmosphere. In this stunning scene, “This Time Tomorrow” is a lovely tune about hope, adventure and faith in the future. Just like the lyrics say: “This time tomorrow where will we be/ On a spaceship somewhere sailing across an empty sea”.

Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody) catches the train called “The Darjeeling Limited”, leaving all his problems and routine behind, symbolized by the businessman (Bill Murray) who fails to catch the train. The Kinks is one of the most used bands in the soundtrack of this movie, especially in the key moments.


11. The Kinks – Strangers (The Darjeeling Limited,2007)

Another memorable and touching slow motion set to the stunning music of the British band The Kinks. The three brothers, Peter (Adrien Brody), Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman) who haven’t seen each other since their father’s funeral, are gathering now on a spiritual journey in India.

They are searching for a feeling of revelation that can make their relationship stronger, but because of their differences in personality, they always end up fighting. The movie is a tribute to the Indian filmmaker Satyajit Ray that had a major influence in the way Anderson sees the art of cinema.

The Indian funeral is an intense and powerful scene that shows to the three brothers the true value of family, brotherhood and life. It is the moment they finish being strangers.


12. The Rolling Stone – Play with Fire (The Darjeeling Limited, 2007)

The Rolling Stones is also a trademark of Wes Anderson as he uses their songs pretty often in his creations. The scene that is set to the wonderful and emotional tune “Play with Fire” is one full of intensity and sincerity. The three brothers, Peter (Adrien Brody), Francis (Owen Wilson) and Jack (Jason Schwartzman), had the desire to meet their mother (Anjelica Huston) in India and to repair the bond between them.

She feels surprised even though in her heart she was happy to see her boys again. She proposes them to discuss their problems in a special way: ‘Maybe we could express ourselves more fully if we say it without words’. Their eyes and facial expressions are like the mirrors of their soul and their mother seems fulfilled to understand everything about them.

As Mick Jagger’s soothing voice makes the moment unforgettable, the scene moves to different persons who influenced the lives of the Whitmans, from Jack’s ex-girlfriend (Natalie Portman) to Peter’s pregnant wife, Alice, and Francis’ assistant, Brendan. They are also travelling with a train, most probably Darjeeling Limited.


13. The Kinks – Powerman (The Darjeeling Limited, 2007)

Symmetry in Wes Anderson’s movies is something inevitable that helps create a unique visual kind of storytelling. An interesting symmetry in The Darjeeling Limited is the one between the opening and the ending of the film.

If in the beginning of the movie there is a slow motion with Peter (Adrien Brody) running and catching the train to India, holding also his father’s luggage, in the end there are all the three brothers running (in slow motion again) to catch a different train. This time they are throwing away the luggage as if they want to get rid of the past and start a new life, in which they are reunited.

Just like in the ending of Wes Anderson’s previous film, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, the audience expects new adventures from their protagonists. Both “This Time Tomorrow” and “Powerman”, the songs used for the opening and the ending in The Darjeeling Limited, are from the 1970 album “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One” of the British band The Kinks.


14. The Bobby Fuller Four – Let Her Dance (Fantastic Mr. Fox, 2009)

Fantastic Mr. Fox is the only stop-motion animated film that Wes Anderson has directed so far. It is based on the Roald Dhal’s children novel of the same name, maintaining the author’s desired atmosphere and also adding Anderson’s visually distinctive storytelling. The ending is a hopeful and joyful one, gathering all the members of the family that are celebrating through a dance in a supermarket on The Bobby Fuller Four’s song from 1965 “Let Her Dance”.

Mr. Fox (George Clooney) is now happy to have a new food source for his dear ones, after long fights with humans, and also he is truly amazed to be again a father. The soundtrack of the movie features mostly songs from the ‘50s and ‘60s and bands like The Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones and The Wellingtons, creating a lovely retro sound experience.


15. Françoise Hardy – Le temps de l’amour (Moonrise Kingdom,2012)

Moonrise Kingdom is a hymn to the magic of love and its fascinating wonders that it offers. The film is dedicated to Wes Anderson’s girlfriend, The Lebanese writer and artist, Juman Malouf.

The most iconic scene of the movie is definitely the one that shows Suzy (Kara Hayward) and Sam (Jared Gilman) dancing on the beach. They are living the moment without any inhibitions (they are also semi-naked) and finding their freedom, their kingdom. They are naïve, but also very charismatic and they know better than adults how to cherish the love.

Their innocence and purity is absolutely ravishing and Françoise Hardy’s romantic ‘60s song “Le temps de l’amour” is the perfect translation of the beautiful and blooming emotions of the first love. It is a sensual but also emotional moment that touches everyone, from youngsters to old persons. A true piece of art that melts even the most frozen hearts.

Author Bio: Eliza Petre is studying International Business and Economics at the Academy of Economic Sciences in Bucharest, Romania. Her greatest passions in life are cinema, literature, theatre and painting and he also has a blog where she writes all his impressions about books, movies and plays. The directors that have always fascinated her are Wes Anderson, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Woody Allen and Baz Luhrmann, because they offer me magic, sensibility and a unique way of seeing life.