"Space Oddity" Gives "Wonderstruck" Trailer a Rocket-Fueled Boost

| © Amazon Studios

Film Editor

The ambience of David Bowie‘s 1969 stranded astronaut anthem is light years from that of Todd Haynes’s upcoming Wonderstruck. Yet it proves a shrewd choice for the film’s trailer, which sells the twinned stories of a runaway girl and boy who are spiritually connected but separated in time by 50 years.

It is a little early for the Oscar race to be heating up, but two occurrences this week have at least taken the awards out of cold storage.

The critical acclaim for Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk has made it the first shoo-in for a Best Picture nomination. On the eve of its U.S. release, however, the issuing of the teaser trailer for Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck, adapted by Brian Selznick from his illustrated young-adult novel, fired a shot across the war film’s bows.

Wonderstruck poster

Haynes’ film, made for Amazon Studios, is now a big Oscar contender in its own right. Critics who saw it at Cannes have reported that Wonderstruck is a classy, sumptuous, soul-tugging film for everyone, not just kids. The 2011 movie of Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret was too, though Martin Scorsese naturally filmed it in a different visual register.

The Wonderstruck trailer, intermittently kaleidoscopic, gives a strong sense of the journeys taken by Rose (Millicent Simmonds), in 1927, and Ben (Oakes Fegley), in 1977; two mysterious women (played by Julianne Moore) compound the intrigue.

Each child exudes a palpable sense of grief and hurt. Each strand has a “cabinet of wonders” vibe. As the kids go on their individual journeys of self-discovery, the acts of looking and absorbing play a role in their healing—notice the shots of Rose and Ben peeping and peering.

Millicent Simmonds as Rose in Wonderstruck

Haynes amps up the trailer’s power considerably with the use of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity.” The song is introduced with the familiar ominous strumming before a school choir sings “Ground Control to Major Tom/Take Your protein pills and put your helmet on.”

Then Bowie launches into the first verse as a montage shows Millicent and Ben making their awestruck first forays on the streets of New York and to the American Natural History Museum. Echoing shots of Millicent and Ben touching the same meteorite may have given Haynes the idea of using “Space Oddity.” It’s as if Major Tom is hovering invisibly over these tykes….

Oakes Fegley as Ben in Wonderstruck

Teasingly anachronistic when laid over the scenes of hearing-impaired Millicent, which cinematographer Edward Lachman shot like a black and white 1920s silent movie, the song gives the trailer enormous emotional force. It even makes Ben (as pictured above) start to look like a junior version of Bowie around 1964, when he was plain old David Jones.

It remains to be seen how much late 60s–70s music, if any, glam-rock fan Haynes (Velvet Goldmine) uses in the actual Wonderstruck movie.

Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions will release Wonderstruck in theaters on October 20, 2017.

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article