Guides to the Orchestra: Britten and Moonrise Kingdom
July 30, 2012 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Moonrise Kingdom opens with Britten's Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra. Similar to Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf (a version narrated by David Bowie, part 1 with the character introductions), the Guide uses a narrator to identify the principal instruments. The movie closes with (non-plot spoilers): posted by CBrachyrhynchos (32 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Awesome soundtrack to the most Wes Anderson movie ever. None more Wes Andersony. Probably his best bar Rushmore too.
posted by Artw at 2:13 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

Glorious soundtrack indeed. I just did my first Ceremony of Carols this past Christmas, so all of the smaller pieces -- Noye's Fludde and the Friday Afternoon bits -- really resonated with why I love Britten's choral music so much.
posted by Madamina at 2:15 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moonrise Kingdom had the most irritating beginning of a movie, what with Anderson's artificially constructed quirkiness dripping from every pore like a '50s greaser.

Then he takes that absurd structure, setting and characters and effortlessly a beautifully charming story filled with heart, style and found memories of childhood. I haven't seen all of his films, but this one felt like his best so far.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:41 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Moonrise Kingdom had the most irritating beginning of a movie, what with Anderson's artificially constructed quirkiness dripping from every pore like a '50s greaser.

Dude likes having everything at right angles. Also cutaways. I fucking love it.
posted by Artw at 2:43 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

The side scrolling framing was great too. The soundtrack is indeed a must by.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:44 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Ooh, yay.
posted by ocherdraco at 2:46 PM on July 30, 2012

And of course the ridiculously elaborate and overdone children's performance, another signature.
posted by Artw at 2:47 PM on July 30, 2012

Yeah, the way he used the Britten was one of the best things about Moonrise Kingdom. That whole sequence at the performance of Noyes Fludde was brilliant.

I mean, forget the plot for a second and look at the symbols he's throwing around. He gets away with basically having his hero step into the dreamtime and sneak around among all the magical animal spirits. I mean, oh, okay, it's totally legit, not a breach of realism at all, because they're not "really" animal spirits, it's just theater — but don't try to tell me those birds are supposed to look mundane.

Having been a 12-year-old with a crush, lemme tell you, that is exactly what it feels like. All of a sudden there is a big scary weird parallel world out there, full of big brightly colored creatures that are half human and half Something Else Entirely, and clearly possessed of all sorts of magical powers, and are calmly acting out some sort of performance that is entirely beyond your comprehension. But if you can just figure out the right plan you might get to sneak out at night when the barriers between the worlds are permeable and spend some time in that one, which is so clearly preferable to the everyday world you've been living in...
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:52 PM on July 30, 2012 [19 favorites]

I had to sit through a gramophone recording of YPGTTO pretty much every week in music class at school. Ms scruss was a little surprised when I was mouthing all the intro words and conducting the whole thing throught the movie.

The movie is filled with 60s radio porn. It's basically a hamfest on film.
posted by scruss at 2:58 PM on July 30, 2012

I had no idea that Wes Anderson so perfectly understood 60s teen SF/F and the magic those books could conjure in a girl.

But apparently he does. Perfect.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:03 PM on July 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

"What kind of bird are you?"
posted by Artw at 3:12 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

What I love about the narrated version of Weather Conditions is the sudden exclamation of "Tuba!" there in the middle, a bit of glee in an otherwise deadpan narration.

The choice of that particular pice was brilliant at the start because Anderson appears to be deconstructing the family the same way that Britten deconstructs the orchestra.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:12 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

That is, the choice of Britten's YPGTTO at the start of Moonrise Kingdom. Sorry, talked about two different compositions leading to ambiguity.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2012

I immediately thought of Lenlow's Peter and the Wolf mashup (I could only find it here online) which is just a bit freshened up.
posted by lubujackson at 3:27 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Moonrise is probably one of my favorite movies period, Wes Andersen or otherwise. It's certainly his best film, and that's because it's the first of his films where his aesthetic, his dialog, and the plot actually work in harmony. It always felt like his movies were weighed down with their own cynicism and in-your-face existentialism of adults experiencing adult problems. Once he actually removed that, and put his borderline absurdist dialog in the context of a child's mind, everything finally came together in more coherent way. It's also an utterly beautiful movie, and might be the most visually consistent film I've ever seen.

The introductory symphony scene was part of this obsessive detail and consistency, and it just worked fantastically.
posted by spiderskull at 3:34 PM on July 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

I worried about that kitten.
posted by maryr at 3:40 PM on July 30, 2012 [6 favorites]

So did we all.
posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on July 30, 2012

The kitten, by the way, was subsequently adopted by Kara Hayward, who played Suzy. (He is reportedly "very sweet.")
posted by Karlos the Jackal at 4:56 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

Just saw this beautiful movie today. I know there are a lot of people that get sick of Wes Anderson's style but I love it. I'm not sure I'd call it his best* but it was damn near perfect.

*(The Royal Tenenbaums being the gold standard)
posted by Bonzai at 5:58 PM on July 30, 2012

Yeah, I hit a Peak Wes Anderson moment when I tried to watch The Life Aquatic a few years back, but this one was lyrical and pleasant and adorable and pulled its cutesiness off. Adorable little film. (And the cover of The Francine Odysseys is a total Edward Gorey homage.)
posted by mediareport at 6:11 PM on July 30, 2012

I need to see that movie again.
posted by computech_apolloniajames at 6:20 PM on July 30, 2012

Oh, I've got to wave the flag for The Lifw Aquatic. Assault on ping island! Dee-dee dee-dee dee-dee-deee dum!
posted by Artw at 6:23 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have to be very careful with the throttle on my motorcycle when that song comes on.
posted by the_artificer at 6:54 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

There is also Garrison Keiler's "Young Lutheran's Guide To The Orchestra" (I couldn't find it) and Weird Al (With Wendy Carlos)'s version of "Peter And The Wolf
posted by sourwookie at 7:05 PM on July 30, 2012 [2 favorites]

My wife and I are one of those few people who will sit through an entire set of credits (usually because the end is where the music credits are listed) and this was the first movie I've ever been to where the entire audience sat through the entire credits. Discounting of course, instances where there's a Q&A at the end or something of that nature.

I can't say it was better than Rushmore, but it's just so great. The music of course really ties it all together.
posted by inthe80s at 7:29 PM on July 30, 2012

I've got to wave the flag for The Life Aquatic

I'm sure I'll catch it in the right mood sometime, but it was just Too Soon after the last Wes Anderson I'd seen. Kinda like how it is with Terry Pratchett; I have to watch that I don't binge because too many too quickly and they start to sour just ever so slightly.
posted by mediareport at 9:29 PM on July 30, 2012

I suspect The Darjeeling Limited is that movie for me - or possibly it's just a rubbish movie.
posted by Artw at 9:36 PM on July 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just saw Moonrise Kingdom last night. For the past few years, I've used the exact recordings of Young Person's Guide and Carnival of the Animals that are featured in the film (conducted by Leonard Bernstein) with my elementary school music students, to help them learn the instruments of the orchestra. I'm so excited about my students seeing Moonrise Kingdom someday and connecting with the soundtrack on a deeper level, even if it's just hey, I remember playing "instrument bingo" to that music in fourth grade! And I think I'm going to have my fifth graders sing Britten's "Cuckoo" this fall too, a fantastic song that I'd forgotten about until yesterday.

Great FPP, thanks!
posted by the_bone at 12:03 AM on July 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

A friend of mine, who goes to a lot of movies (or at least most of the headline ones), and is usually bitterly disappointed by them (he can't understand how they're so badly written - plots that simply don't function - Prometheus, for example - or the constant need to introduce unnecessary backstory, especially Father Issues - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or the recent Spiderman (Peter Parker had parents?)) - came away from this saying how nice it was to see a film written for grown-ups. Which I suspect is ironic, in a way.

Anderson is one of those people - like Greenaway or Fellini or Lynch - who makes films that are an expression of what they want to see on the screen. Which is unusually rare, even these days. Or especially these days, I'm not sure. One of the rare occasions where the auteur theory actually works. I don't think he thinks Anderson is a genius, and I don't think the people who work with him think that, or most of the audiences either. But everyone is willing to go along for the ride to put his vision on the screen because (I expect) the process is a lot of fun (and possibly not unlike one of his movies in itself) and also because the result is such that they will be glad that it's there. Which probably isn't true of most movies, even the quite good ones.

Tenenbaums tends to overshadow the others, I think, because it has so many resonances with recent American literature - I mean there's J.D. Salinger and David Foster Wallace right there on the surface. But I honestly think they're all great, and each great on their own terms (which means it's more difficult to transfer an enthusiasm for Tenenbaums onto Darjeeling Limited). That's "great", not "Great", by the way.

The coffee rush is dying down, so I can't say anything about Britten other than that I think he's one of the Greats (you see, with a big G) of the twentieth century. And if there's any piece that's appropriate for and Anderson movie, it's Rejoice in the Lamb.

I suspect The Darjeeling Limited is that movie for me - or possibly it's just a rubbish movie

Even though it has Rita in it?

this was the first movie I've ever been to where the entire audience sat through the entire credits
For what it's worth, the first time I saw this, it was Amadeus, where the audience sat through the credits in silence. Some people tried to leave, and then sheepishly sat back down.
posted by Grangousier at 12:49 AM on July 31, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by jph at 7:35 AM on July 31, 2012

Bill Murray and Frances McDormand.

No, say it isn't so.
posted by Twang at 3:27 PM on July 31, 2012

Huh? Say what isn't so?
posted by maryr at 10:01 PM on July 31, 2012

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