NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t



If you see the new Wes Anderson movie Moonrise Kingdom, you’ll hear background music from composers Benjamin Britten and Alexandre Desplat, as well as several songs from Hank Williams. How those songs ended up in the movie is partly the work of music supervisor Randall Poster, who works with Anderson to help find and license music that helps add nuance and emotional depth to each scene. Poster is one of the best-known music supervisors in the movie industry. His credits include indie films like The Darjeeling Limited and Rushmore and blockbusters like The Aviator, Meet the Parents and The Nanny Diaries. For The Royal Tenenbaums, Poster tracked down “These Days” by Nico and “Needle in the Hay” by Elliott Smith. For The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou, it was Poster who helped Anderson pick out the David Bowie covers by Brazilian musician Seu Jorge. Creating a musical identity for films means working closely with directors to understand the nuances of each scene, Poster tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross. “I just stand by [Anderson] and help him put mortar on the bricks and come at him with musical ideas and listen to what he has to say and read the scripts as they evolve, and we sort of take it from there and keep going,” Poster says. “I don’t know that we’ve ever stopped working since we started [shortly after Bottle Rocket]. We’re just trying to make music and trying to bring great music to it and make this our life together. That’s how we go.” MORE

RELATED: Known for his music supervision work on all of Wes Anderson‘s films, Poster was more than happy to answer questions about his work with the quirky, wunderkind filmmaker. Perhaps one of the greatest and almost legendary, music-in-film misses, took place on Anderson’s third film, “The Royal Tenenbaums.” While it’s known for originally having The Beatles‘ version of “Hey Jude” in the opening, the film was also book-ended by two Beatles songs, including the Beatles Anthology 2 version of “I’m Looking Through You” in an earlier cut of the movie — this writer witnessed it with his eyes and ears first hand at a L.A. press screening in 2001. “We lassoed everyone that we wanted, but the truth is we had problems with The Beatles, actually with ‘Hey Jude,’ ” Poster said, addressing the story. “The Beatles have a very complicated business arrangement among themselves and we worked it every way we could, but unfortunately, George Harrison was very sick during that time and it was just not going to happen, we weren’t going to be able to get approval.” Of course all ended well, or as well as it could when Anderson and Poster had Mark Mothersbaugh record an instrumental cover of the classic Beatles song. As you might recall, Elliott Smith was asked to record the cover, but was apparently too ill from drug addiction at the time to take part. “He was in a bad state and just wasn’t able to,” Anderson told EW in 2004. Evidently there was even another ending that featured the Beach Boys‘ “Sloop John B” (the picture ultimately ends with Van Morrison‘s “Everyone”). “In a way, I thought Mark Mothersbaugh‘s version really helped kick the movie off. It came out of necessity, but it really helped us because it gave us a little bit more room, and I think, a little bit more of a cinematic launch to the picture.” MORE

RELATED: “Seu Jorge, who plays Pelé, the singing crew member, was basically cast because he’d been in City Of God. We knew he could play music a little bit but we had no idea about the artistry he would bring to the project. He didn’t speak English very much, and had no familiarity with David Bowie’s back catalogue, but he somehow managed to pull it off. I spent a good amount of time with him in a recording studio in Rome, watching this sort of metamorphosis of David Bowie into… samba. We did 13 songs together, and it was just magic. Because in the script it just said, ‘Pelé comes on board and sings a David Bowie song in Portuguese’. That was it. And we just went on from there.” MORE