It was just over a week ago when director Cameron Crowe teased on his website that despite earlier indications that the soundtrack to his forthcoming “We Bought a Zoo” would contain lots of Neil Young and Eddie Vedder, another mystery artist was vying for the gig. “I think it’s going to lean heavily into one or two artists, but not necessarily either of them. We did play a lot of Eddie, Neil and PJ during the movie. It’s kind of revealing itself now,” Crowe explained. “There is another artist who is campaigning in the editing room with his music ala Cat Stevens in ‘Harold and Maude.’ We’ll see how far it gets.” Well, Crowe hasn’t taken too long to let the secret out.
Todd VanDerWerff, TV editor for The A.V. Club is currently attending the TV Critics Press Tour — where Crowe was on hand to promote “Pearl Jam Twenty” which hits PBS in the fall — and he broke the news over Twitter saying, “Jónsi from Sigur Rós is scoring We Bought A Zoo. Everybody add him to your Oscar predictions all at once.”
It’s definitely a name that’s a far cry from the likes of Young or Vedder, but this history between Crowe and Jónsi is significant. Sigur Rós licensed their first pieces of music for use in a film when they allowed Crowe to use “Svefn-G-Englar,” “Agaetis Byrjun” and a live version of “The Nothing Song” in “Vanilla Sky.” At the time, Jónsi joked that he thought it would be funny for Tom Cruise to act over their music, but also said “Almost Famous” made him want to be in a band.
As for Crowe, he had gushed, “Sigur Rós is one of the great bands to know this simple fact — the best music creates a movie in your mind. Making ‘Vanilla Sky,’ we played Sigur Rós constantly. It inspired us and gave us grooves that became part of the DNA of our own movie. But that’s just us. Play Sigur Rós yourself. In every sound and song, they will reach deep into your soul. Sigur Ros is some of the best filmmaking you’ll ever hear.”
And that positive spirit carried through to “We Bought A Zoo” as Crowe explained at TCA, “It was a music-filled experience. Matt Damon is a big fan of all this music, so we played some of the music on his first day on set, and he said, ‘Keep it coming man, keep it coming,’” Crowe said, adding. “The movie is being scored by Jónsi from Sigur Rós. I love Sigur Rós, and Jónsi has done this amazing score for us.”
Of course, any other details are unavailable and it’s unknown if he’ll stand as the film’s lone voice or if Crowe will be adding any others to the mix. Maybe Crowe will also be using some cuts from Jónsi’s solo album Go or perhaps will dip into the music he has created with his other side project, Riceboy Sleeps.
Regardless, it’s a great twist to the upcoming film, adding an interesting dimension to the domestic drama. Based on the memoir by Benjamin Mee, with a script from “The Devil Wears Prada” writer Aline Brosh McKenna, the story follows Mee (Matt Damon), a single father who attempts to fulfill his late wife’s wish of moving their family to the titular animal sanctuary. Scarlett Johansson, Thomas Haden Church, Elle Fanning and more co-star. There is definitely a big risk going with Jónsi whose voice in the right mix is deeply moving and in other’s can be somewhat treacly and perhaps over the top. But Crowe has proven himself to be a master of music and song placement, so we’ll definitely give him a huge benefit of the doubt.
“We Bought a Zoo” opens on December 23rd.