"Rushmore" and the Importance of Film Soundtracks
Updated: Feb 13, 2021
Max Fisher, walking out of an elevator, in slow motion, surrounded by bees, with The Who blasting in the background. “A Quick One While She’s Away” is what enhances the quality of the most iconic scene in Wes Anderson's Rushmore and truly makes it, along with Max, badass. This movie encompasses what I think is the most important part of a film: the soundtrack. Yes, obviously the cinematography and editing of a film has a tremendous role in the viewing experience, but in my eyes, the music of a film is what makes it extraordinary. One notable aspect of Rushmore’s soundtrack is the Mark Mothersbaugh score, which is crucial to the tone of the movie. The score is animated, lively, and uniquely endearing, which helps accentuate the comedy and lightheartedness of the film. It also pairs insanely well with the cinematography style of Robert Yeoman, which I’d also characterize as animated and straight to the point. The cinematography style of Wes Anderson and Robert Yeoman frames each scene like a work of art. The camera pans over the scene so simplistically, but every shot says a thousand words, and the music only makes this more clear. For instance, I look at the track “Piranhas Are A Very Tricky Species” which only helps build up the excitement, intensity, and chaos of Max’s construction project. As well as, “Friends Like You, Who Needs Friends” which emphasizes the sheer weight of Herman Blume’s actions with Ms. Cross, and foreshadows the future conflict between Max and Mr. Blume.
Obviously, I highlighted “A Quick One While She’s Away”, but I also see “Making Time” by The Creation as another notable song which perfectly fits the compilation style of Max Fisher’s club montage. (Also the title of the song is a perfect connection to this, since Max Fisher is making time for all his extracurriculars while not leaving enough time for his academics). “Rue St. Vincent” by Yves Montand creates such an adorable scene between Max and Rosemary in Edward Appleby’s room. It effectively introduces the charisma of Max paired with his adolescent yet pompous demeanor. And who could forget “Ooh La La” by Faces which makes the ending of this film so impactful and fulfilling. Zooming out on Max and Rosemary dancing creates the perfect conclusion to the story, and provides a hopeful yet full close to the conflict and relationship between the two.
Originally during the creation of the film, Wes Anderson was going to make the entire soundtrack comprised of mostly songs by the British rock band, The Kinks. However, he only ended up choosing one for the final version of the film. “Nothin' in the World Can Stop Me Worryin' 'Bout That Girl” is the perfect song used to show the depressing nature of Herman Blume’s relationship with his wife. I love The Kinks, but the choice to steer away from a monotonous soundtrack of Kinks songs I view with deep gratitude. The heartfelt and nostalgic nature of this film wouldn’t have been nearly as profound with a soundtrack entirely composed by The Kinks. However I still find it curious to see what Rushmore would’ve looked like with said soundtrack. While my curiosity might keep bugging me, I stay thankful for the film and soundtrack that we ended up getting, because come on, that bee scene is and will always be(e) bad as hell. This, in my eyes, is why the soundtrack is so important: the difference in songs on one version we might have gotten would’ve entirely changed the status and overall tone of this movie. Music is such a powerful tool, and I am saddened to see so many films just cheap out on the soundtrack. A great soundtrack takes love, care, and a vigilant eye to craft, and I think the Rushmore soundtrack is one that all films should strive towards. It is an example that deserves to be followed because it perfectly illustrates the importance of a good soundtrack when it comes to making a quality film.