Originally Written and Posted at Epinions.com on 10/29/07 w/ Additional Edits.
The soundtrack to The Darjeeling Limited marks the first film soundtrack to not feature any music or contribution from longtime Wes Anderson music composer Mark Mothersbaugh. Instead, Anderson seeks tracks from the early films of the famed Merchant-Ivory productions as well as the films of late Indian film auteur Satyajit Ray. While a lot of the film's soundtrack is mostly instrumental pieces from those old films that includes a few traditional cuts, the soundtrack also includes three tracks by the Kinks from their 1970 album Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One. Assembled by Anderson and music supervisor Randall Poster, The Darjeeling Limited soundtrack is delightful, exotic film soundtrack that introduce fans to the world of India.
The soundtrack opens with Peter Sarstedt's UK number-one hit Where Do You Go To My Lovely? Appearing in the accompanying short film Hotel Chevalier and parts of the feature film, the acoustic-driven number that features an accordion-like accompaniment is a wonderfully ballad that plays to Jack Whitman's (Jason Schwartzman) heartbreak as he meets his girlfriend (Natalie Portman) for one final night before he leaves for India. The song conveys the girlfriend's mean attitude as Jack is mentally fried in this poignant, heartbreaking ballad. The second track is by renowned Indian sitar player Ustad Vilayat Khan. The title track to Satyajit Ray's film Jalshagar is an intense, fast-paced instrumental with layers of sitars and strings performed by Khan. The track is played during an intense sequence that involved a speeding taxi and a businessman (Bill Murray) running to catch a train where he eventually races Peter Whitman (Adrien Brody).
The first of three Kinks songs arrive in the form of the melancholic yet upbeat acoustic-driven song This Time Tomorrow. Featured on the trailer and the film, the song emphasizes the melancholic state of Whitman through Ray Davies' heartfelt lyrics that plays true to the dysfunctional relationship of the Whitman brothers and their feelings over their deceased father. Another score piece from Satyajit Ray's film comes from the late film director himself with the title cut to Teen Kanya is a wonderful mix of string instruments and sitars that is filled with wonderful layers of melodic strings and sitars just pounding through the track. Jyotitindra Moitra and Ali Akbar Khan bring another wonderful instrumental cut which is the title music to the Merchant Ivory film The Householder. The track is opened by a fuzzy recording of a violin track that is later accompanied by a bouncy sitar track and a flute that emphasize the world that is India as the Whitman brothers including the eldest Francis (Owen Wilson) explain the itinerary for their spiritual journey.
Two more Ray instrumental pieces arrive in the film. First is Ruku's Room from his film Joi Bab Felunath which is basically a serene yet timbre cut filled with string plucks and flutes playing in the background. Charu's Theme from Ray's Charulata that also appeared in the film's trailer is an intense, guitar-driven track led by an acoustic guitar and then a sitar to play to the film's romantic drive of Jack Whitman and the Darjeeling Limited train stewardess Rita (Amara Karan). Shankar Jaikishan brings a wonderful piece of music which is the title cut to the Merchant Ivory film Bombay Talkie with its opening, reverb percussions and bass vocals that is later accompanied by a melodic sitar, serene string arrangements, and vibrant percussions. Ray returns with a montage music from Nityananda Datta's Baska Badal is a wonderful orchestral cut filled with sweeping violins and a piano accompaniment that shows the brothers exploring the exotic world of India with bits of sitar joining in.
A traditional track which is a prayer from Jodphur Sikh Temple Congregation that emphasizes the worldly, spiritual atmosphere that is India with all of its energy and exotic nature. Jyotitindra Moitra returns with Farewell To Earnest from the Merchant Ivory film The Householder that is a wonderful, drone-like violin piece that is wonderful in its playing with accompaniment from its vibrant percussions and a flute piece. Satyajit Ray brings another track from another Merchant Ivory film, Shakespeare Wallah with the track The Deserted Ballroom that is a mournful, orchestral piece that emphasizes the troubled and fragile relationship of the Whitman brothers as they find their spiritual journey derailed by small incidents including the train lost in its direction. Alexis Weissenberg brings a wonderful, classical piano piece entitled Suite Bergmasque: 3. "Clair De Lune" that is a melancholic piano piece forcing the brothers to reflect on their relationship after their journey had soured.
Shankar Jaikishan brings a song from the Merchant Ivory film Bombay Talkie with Typewriter Tip, Tip, Tip that is essentially an Indian pop song. One of the soundtrack's big standouts, though played in the background softly in the film, it's a vibrant pop song that just goes all over the place. It's bouncy, filled with great Indian vocals from a man and woman that is accompanied by percussions, horns, and xylophones, that is straight from a Bollywood film. Next is a memorial piece performed from the film that is a traditional track of sorts, with acoustic guitars and percussions, to convey the tragedy that the Whitman brothers have encountered. That tragedy is emphasized further with another Kinks song Strangers by Dave Davies that recalls the brothers' fragile relationship and their own estrangement they've been in. Davies' lyrics play true to the film's tone that included the line "When we are not two, we are one". It's that line that is also from the film's trailer that rings true to the film's theme. Praise Him is another traditional track that is performed by the Udaipur Convent School Nun & Students featuring Anjelica Huston, as their mother Patricia Whitman, in the background. It's a wonderful, spiritual track.
Ludwig Van Beethoven arrives with his composition Symphony No 7 In A (Op 92) Allegro Con Brio by Fritz Reiner & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The piece is played in one of the film's blend of comedy and sadness that is shown in a flashback scene that involved the Whitman brothers dealing with a possession of their father. Anderson favorite the Rolling Stones finally allow a track onto a film soundtrack with their 1965 song Play With Fire from their album Out of Our Heads. The haunting, acoustic ballad written by the band is really one of the most outstanding cuts on the film. Notably for a sequence where the Whitman brothers and their mother reflect on the individuals that meant something to them in a great sequence.
Ustad Vilayat Khan returns with Arrival From Benaras from the Merchant Ivory Film The Guru that is a wonderfully bouncy, upbeat track led by Khan's sitar that marks as a wonderful conclusion for the brothers as they have found their mother and rejuvenation for their spiritual journey. The last Kinks song Powerman arrives which is a mid-tempo rocker that is pure Wes Anderson in terms of concluding moments as it becomes a rallying cry of sorts for the Whitman brothers. The final track is the French pop song Les Champs-Elysees by Joe Dassin that is a bouncy song that bops along the way that is played during the closing credits as everything is fine with its catchy, upbeat vibe.
The Darjeeling Limited is an amazingly crafted, diverse, and enchanting soundtrack from Wes Anderson and company. Fans of Anderson's work will no doubt enjoy the array of Indian-inspired film scores with its mix of classical music, pop songs, and British Invasion songs. Anderson fans will no doubt get the soundtrack to complete their collection while those new to Indian music will definitely get a great introduction to the music of Satyajit Ray and others. The record is also a great introduction to the lesser-known work of the Kinks who are one of Anderson's favorite bands. In the end, for a great soundtrack that is wonderful to play on the road or for some crazy, emotional journey, the soundtrack to The Darjeeling Limited is a must-have.
Wes Anderson Soundtracks: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Seu Jorge-The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions - Fantastic Mr. Fox - (Moonrise Kingdom)
Wes Anderson Films: Bottle Rocket - Rushmore - The Royal Tenenbaums - The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou - Hotel Chevalier - The Darjeeling Limited - Fantastic Mr. Fox - Moonrise Kingdom - The Auteurs #8: Wes Anderson
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