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THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU

About The Score
As with all of Wes Anderson's films to date, music also plays a key role in the storytelling of THE LIFE AQUATIC—but similar to the other elements of the film, Anderson took an unusual approach to the score. "For this film, I wanted to do something quite different musically,” says Anderson. "There's a wide-ranging mix of elements—from broad, adventure pieces, to the themes associated with the characters, to the music for the Zissou films that also becomes part of the overall score—that all had to come together.”

Anderson began talking about the film's music with composer Mark Mothersbaugh— Anderson's long-time collaborator—very early in the process. "I can remember working on the music in my studio while Wes was sitting behind me, still writing the script,” notes Mothersbaugh. "And the one thing that was clear right away is that this film was going to be a very adventurous movie for Wes—bigger in every dimension than anything he'd done before, including the music.”

Mothersbaugh started his work by considering what kind of music Team Zissou's composer (and physicist) Vladimir Wolodarsky would have written. "I knew it had to be cheap synth sounds,” explains Mothersbaugh, "so that was the starting point for our film, and already it was unusual because this is the first time there have ever been any electronic instruments on a Wes Anderson score. Everything else we've done previously was all acoustic.”

Fortunately, Mothersbaugh was able to tap into his own ample collection of analog synthesizers from the 1970s to achieve that distinctively amusing sound. Later, the simple themes of Wolodarsky's compositions are vastly expanded into rich orchestral pieces for a 50- piece orchestra. "We start musically very much in Wolodarsky's world with this very simple, cheesy synthesizer, and then the music just gets bigger and bigger and expands into the rest of the world of the film. Of course, one of the interesting things was going to all these very accomplished wind and string players and saying, ‘I want you to sound like Casio instruments!”

Another interesting compositional moment came when Mothersbaugh took an instrumental piece he had composed for "The Royal Tenenbaums”—"Scrapping and Yelling”—and played the entire piece backwards to use for the music that accompanies the scene in which Steve Zissou introduces The Belafonte. "The melody was completely unexpected yet had that same happy, optimistic feeling. It was a good match for the scene, because that's when you first realize beyond any doubt that this isn't going to be your average movie,” observes the composer.

For Mothersbaugh, being on the set and watching Wes Anderson work became a large part of his musical inspiration. "Wes is so much more hands-on than any other director I've known,” he says. "In a way, it reminds me of the old days with my band DEVO, because we always did everything ourselves, from the costumes to the choreography, and that's how Wes is. He's there doing drawings and working on the fabric for the costumes at the same time as he is telling me his ideas for the music. It's really nice to work for someone who sees everything in such an integrated, creative way.”

Finally, adding an ineffable charm and mystery to THE LIFE AQUATIC is the musical performance of Brazilian actor Seu Jorge in the role of guitar-strumming Pele. When Anderson asked Jorge—an actor best known in the U.S. for his role in the acclaimed "City of God” but also a pop star in Brazil—if he could play a few Bowie songs, he had no idea what to expect. But when Jorge translated the songs into Portuguese and presented them in a folksy, impassioned bossa nova style, both cast and crew were floored. Even David Bowie responded to them. "Bowie licensed the songs to us, and as we went along, we sent the recordings to him and he seemed to really like Jorge's versio

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