Post on “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

Written in the title, this movie is indeed fantastic like Mr. Fox, a.k.a. Foxy himself. Directed by Wes Anderson and having come out in 2009, this film is not short of being entertaining and engaging by any stretch. Such a fundamental part of that capability is heavily attributed to its music. One very notable characteristic of its music is the constant switching between diegetic and non-diegetic music. One other important trait is the cultural referent we hear with the use of much folk/bluegrass music. This hereby expresses Western rural culture, where this film entirely takes place. The music is also mostly empathetic towards the events of the scenes. As the audience, we are also exposed to a lot of the same music reoccurring. Either to be associated with certain activities like sneaking around and digging, or certain characters reappearing in the film.

One example of a leitmotiv that stood out to me is that of the guard rat from the cider cellar. He makes two distinct appearances throughout the film. Yet, we are reminded even more quickly of his character the second time with his same theme returning. Had there been different music playing, it would take more time for the audience to be reminded of his first appearance. As the rat is portrayed to be villainous and very antagonistic to the plot, his theme is expressed with a low drone underneath an exotic minor-like sounding melody in a high register wind instrument. This gives the audience a feeling of tension and a sense that this “shady” character is going to do something bad to the protagonists. This is especially true from the first shot of him. The dramatic showing of him sitting in the dark corner or edge of the wall and hearing him talking in a very suspicious tone goes hand in hand with the leitmotiv.

One reoccurring element that stood out to me is Foxy switching on and off his small radio (and one time, the radio at home). We first experience this in the beginning scene when he is standing alone at a tree and we had previously heard the now a cappella theme in the opening credits playing then with instruments non-diegetically. This is one of a few instances where the radio creates this seemingly blurred line between the music being directly diegetic or not. I believe this effect is significant to the film in a sense that it adds a more personal touch to Foxy. It brings home the idea that a lot of the music we hear is very empathetic to Foxy, whatever he may be feeling or experiencing. Regardless if he himself is hearing every note and/or instrument that we are upon using his radio, it still connects us with him better.

I personally enjoyed this film more than I thought I would. With not being very accustomed to this form of animation or Wes Anderson’s films, I did not know entirely what to expect. I found a lot of it to be very humorous, and I think it has a good plot and theme.

3 thoughts on “Post on “Fantastic Mr. Fox”

  1. I like how you focused on the leitmotif of the guard rat. The music that plays when he is on screen is very distinct and unique to him, and the villain-like feel of his theme helps the audience understand his importance in the film.

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  2. Good observations, Alex, especially with regard to the interesting choice of giving Foxy his own portable radio, allowing for a musical point of view to be established at the same time that the line between diegetic and non-diegetic is blurred. Your writing is a bit uneven in this post–do one more proofread before you submit your next post, just ot make sure your prose is concise and smooth.

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