Two years ago, filmmaker Todd Haynes stunned audiences with his gorgeous period literary adaptation Carol, which launched both of its leading women to Oscar nominations. This fall, Haynes is back with his next film, Wonderstruck, also a period literary adaptation. But what is the song in the Wonderstruck trailer? The haunting melody evokes a retro, otherworldly atmosphere that's perfect for a movie full of childlike wonder.
Haynes' new movie, which earned rave reviews when it premiered at Cannes this May, is based on an illustrated novel by Brian Selznick, the same author whose work The Invention Of Hugo Cabret was turned into the multi-Oscar-winning film Hugo by Martin Scorsese in 2011. The story takes place across two time periods simultaneously, as Rose, a deaf girl in the 1920s, and Ben, a boy in the 1970s who is struck deaf by a lightning bolt, both find themselves drawn to New York City and the wondrous American Museum Of Natural History.
Refreshingly, Rose is actually played by a deaf actress, young newcomer and Utah native Millicent Simmonds. The film also stars Oakes Fegley as Ben alongside Julianne Moore, Michelle Williams, and Amy Hargreaves. But what music could possibly convey the scope of a film that spans 50 years, traverses the island of Manhattan, worships both natural history and Golden Age movie stars, and views it all through the sincere and wide-eyed lens of two precocious children?
While the score of the film itself will be composed by Carter Burwell (who earned a Best Original Score nomination for his work on Haynes' Carol) the Wonderstruck trailer is set to a recognizable piece of popular music: David Bowie's 1969 single "Space Oddity."
The lyrics of Ziggy Stardust's anthem to space travel are an oddly wonderful fit for the kaleidoscope imagery on display in the trailer. "This is ground control to Major Tom," the song begins — sung in the trailer by a chorus of children — making it clear that Wonderstruck will be something of a cosmic voyage that transcends both time and space. "Now it's time to leave the capsule if you dare," Bowie croons later in the song, seemingly encouraging the film's young protagonists to leave the nest and set off on their journey of self-discovery.
The collision of different periods, genres, stories, and styles on display in the Wonderstruck trailer make for an evocative melange that's only enhanced by the inherent oddness of Bowie's music. It's the perfect antidote for moviegoers who find themselves overwhelmed by the summer season's glut of blockbusters, and can't wait to travel "far above the world" where "Planet Earth is blue" and lose themselves in the wondrous world of Haynes' film.