Wes, Alexandre Desplat, Jarvis Cocker, and the London Oratory School Schola
Sounding Fantastic. If the trailers for Wes Anderson‘s stop-motion-animation adaptation of the Roald Dahl children’s book Fantastic Mr. Fox aren’t enough to suggest great stuff ahead (the film opens Nov. 20), the sound track should clinch the deal. An integral component of the writer/director’s movies thus far (think John Lennon‘s “Oh Yoko!” in Rushmore, Nick Drake‘s “Fly” in The Royal Tenenbaums), the collection of songs and tunes for Fantastic Mr. Fox includes such furry numbers as “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” from the Wellingtons, two from the Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones‘ “Street Fighting Man,” and a handful of Burl Ives incantations – yes, Burl Ives! – guaranteed to spark a Burl revival. Throw in some Art Tatum, Jarvis Cocker, and Bobby Fuller Four, plus beautiful instrumental sketches from French composer Alexandre Desplat, and you have one of the loveliest, most eccentric sound tracks to come along since – well, since Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited. (Philadelphia Inquirer, October 25, 2009)
Wes is interviewed by the great French director and Criterion labelmate Arnaud Desplechin in this month’s Interview magazine. They touch on Paris, Proust, the Movies and working on Fantastic Mr. Fox. It’s really terrific. Full interview after the break and at their website.
By Arnaud Desplechin
In the five films that Wes Anderson has directed, from his 1996 debut feature Bottle Rocket to 2007’s picaresque The Darjeeling Limited, he has managed to assemble a constellation of actors who might best be described as “Wes’s Gang.” This tragicomic fraternity includes Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Anjelica Huston, Luke Wilson, and, of course, his college friend and longtime collaborator Owen Wilson. Like Woody Allen before him, Anderson has constructed his own immediately identifiable cinematic landscape, one so distinct that certain clothes, music, expressions, and cleverly awkward situations in the real world can be dubbed as being “very Wes Anderson.”
This year, however, the 40-year-old Anderson seems to have given the slip to his frequent playmates—at least in bodily form—by swapping human actors for puppets and the concrete world for an imaginary one in his latest effort, Fantastic Mr. Fox. The film, due out in November, is a stop-motion animated adaptation of the Roald Dahl book about a family of foxes that is besieged by a group of angry farmers and forced to outmaneuver them in order to survive. Anderson tapped some of his usual collaborators—along with George Clooney, Meryl Streep, and Jarvis Cocker—to record the dialogue. He then used those vocal tracks to inspire a mesmeric fantasyland of puppet performances brought to life by a team of animators on an elaborate soundstage in London.
Fantastic Mr. Foxcertainly marks a departure for Anderson. French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin recently sat down with Anderson at the Cinéma du Panthéon in Paris—one of the city’s oldest movie theaters—to discuss the ever-evolving architecture of Anderson’s idiosyncratic universe.
Includes photos from The Gap on Regent Street courtesy of jazzt. All photos copyright their respective owners.
Transcribed by iFlicks:
George and Wes – what was the appeal of Fantastic Mr Fox? Why did you want to work on a film, particularly a stop-motion animation, based on that book?
WA: Well, we all grew up with Roald Dahl’s writing. Fantastic Mr Fox was the first book I owned, so it made an impression upon me. I always wanted to adapt the book as stop-motion, using puppets with fur, because there’s something sort of magical about that.
GC: I just did it for the paycheck. The money. [Laughs] But it was also the chance to work with Wes, which really appealed to me.
George, in what ways do you identify with the character of Mr Fox? What did you think of him as a fox?
GC: What I thought of him…as a fox? [Laughs] Well, he’s an optimist, which was really fun to play. I had a lot of fun on the film, working with such a great cast. I didn’t enjoy working with Bill, though. There was a lot of hatred there at first. We’re okay now, though.
From the Observer (UK):
“I can’t act so it’s just as well they had a puppet to do it,” says Jarvis Cocker of his proper film debut, in Wes Anderson’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox. “The puppet gives a much less wooden performance than I would.”
Fantastic Mr Fox. “The puppet gives a much less wooden performance than I would.”
Cocker voices Petey, one of the few human characters, his role the result of meeting director Anderson when DJing with Pulp bassist Steve Mackey in Paris at the wrap party for Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. “When he’d written the script, he’d also written the words for this song and he asked if I’d do the music for it. Which was quite nice for me ’cause usually when I get asked to do things it’s the other way round – they want me to do the words.” Cocker discounts his previous film appearance, as part of band the Wyrd Sisters in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, as “more like prancing around on stage”.
Early versions of Fantastic Mr Fox cast him as an onscreen narrator but US test audiences were baffled. “I may turn up as a DVD extra in the future,” he opines.
We excitedly present the soundtrack listing for Fantastic Mr. Fox, available October 12 in the U.K. and November 3 in the U.S. The commercial ‘track includes one (original) Jarvis Cocker song, the obligatory Rolling Stones lick (“Street Fighting Man”), and three songs by Burl Ives.
1. “American Empirical Pictures”*
2. “The Ballad of Davy Crockett” – The Wellingtons
3. “Mr. Fox in the Fields”*
4. “Heroes and Villains” – The Beach Boys
5. “Fooba Wooba John” – Burl Ives
6. “Boggis, Bunce, and Bean”*
7. “Jimmy Squirrel and Co.”*
8. “Love” – Nancy Adams
9. “Buckeye Jim” – Burl Ives
10. “High-Speed French Train”*
11. “Whack-Bat Majorette”*
12. “The Grey Goose” – Burl Ives
13. “Bean’s Secret Cider Cellar”*
14. “Une Petite Île” – Georges Delerue
15. “Street Fighting Man” – The Rolling Stones
16. “Fantastic Mr. Fox AKA Petey’s Song” – Jarvis Cocker
17. “Night and Day” – Art Tatum
18. “Kristofferson’s Theme”*
19. “Just Another Dead Rat in a Garbage Pail (behind a Chinese Restaurant)”*
20. “Le Grand Choral” – Georges Delerue
21. “Great Harrowsford Square”*
22. “Stunt Expo 2004″*
23. “Canis Lupus”*
24. “Ol’ Man River” – The Beach Boys
25. “Let Her Dance” – Bobby Fuller Four
*Music Composed, Conducted, and Produced by Alexandre Desplat and produced By Wes Anderson and Randall Poster
Looks like Fantastic Mr. Fox will be playing out of competition at the 66th Venice Film Festival. The film will be screened alongside new films from Michael Moore, Steven Soderbergh, and the Coen Brothers, among a host of other films from around the world. Anderson was last at the festival holding the world premiere of The Darjeeling Limited, which played in competition and won the Little Golden Lion prize. The festival runs from September 2nd to the 12th. (Which would make this the world premiere of Fox, coming over a month before the London Film Festival.)
And here’s Fox composer and voice actor Jarvis Cocker on last night’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.