Behind the Deliberate, Unusual Music Choices of 'Wild'

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Dallas Buyers Club director Jean-Marc Vallée has become known for his freeing, 360-degree style of shooting and his films’ intimate, unusual relationship to music. He's continued that tradition with his latest film, Wild—based on the bestselling memoir by Cheryl Strayed.

Vallée begins the music process by creating a playlist for each character. “I don't use original music or a composer, only source music,” he explains to Indiewire. “When I’m rewriting a script I make a playlist for each character — what they’re listening to, where they are listening to it, and how it could be used. I don't want it to be just a track playing over action just to be a cool track; it has to be part of the story. The characters have to hear the music.”

For Wild, music became a key point of transition between Cheryl on the trail and flashbacks of her past life. “It was an easy decision not to put any music on the trail, except when she's humming or singing, trying to remember a song,” Vallée says. “As she's trying to remember we hear the ghost of the song, the ghost of Bruce Springsteenor Portishead. But it's not played out loud, there's a lot of reverb to it; it's coming from her head, her mind. Then we can cut to a flashback where it's coming from a car radio or turntable, or her apartment.”

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