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Moonrise Kingdom by Alexandre Desplat (Review)

posted Jan 4, 2013, 9:58 AM by Kaya Savas

Alexandre Desplat is the busiest composer in the industry without question. 2012 saw him reaching up to Ennio Morricone numbers in terms of projects released within a year. With 8 (8!!!!) films in 2012 one might fear that he’s spreading himself too thin, but instead he’s producing some amazing work. Last year I awarded Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close the best score of the year. This year he will probably also get that distinction from me with Moonrise Kingdom. Desplat’s second collaboration with Wes Anderson is nothing short of brilliant. So please forgive this late review as I finally get some time touch upon this masterpiece.

Moonrise Kingdom is a perfect film. The music echoes the structure of Wes Anderson’s storybook style narratives, and in turn works almost in chapters. This was the same way Desplat structured his score to Fantastic Mr. Fox (an Oscar nominated score). Forget the fact that Wes Anderson uses some source music in the final mix as score because Desplat’s music works hand in hand with it to create a seamless flow in musical narrative. The music accentuates the characters immensely and rarely scores plot (more of a blend of setting and character than straight forward scoring of action). It scores the characters and the emotions within. Since almost every of Anderson’s characters speak and act with deadpan style, the music is essential to the final effect. Desplat works in movements of a central theme that culminates at the end, and then crossfades into probably the best end credits suite I have ever heard. Part 7 of his score is mixed with the boy narration introducing each instrument of the strack as it’s played. This echoes another piece of the soundtrack (Leonard Bernstein’s “The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra”) that was used as diagetic music in the film. By echoing that in Desplat’s final part Anderson has supremely blended the line between diagetic and non-diagetic sound in a masterful fashion. The final result of the soundtrack experience is an emotional resonating culmination of the characters. 

Moonrise Kingdom is a wonderfully quirky, beautiful, emotional and memorable listening experience. Desplat’s score grounds the soundtrack as other pieces of music are placed between. The movements it creates flow masterfully all the way to the end point. Characters shine immensely in the music, and that’s why Desplat is composing at a level that other composer’s will struggle to reach.