Warning! MILD SPOILERS for Jojo Rabbit ahead!
Jojo Rabbit's soundtrack features a mix of classical compositions, jazz numbers, and pop tunes - including a couple German versions of notable songs. Written and directed by Taika Waititi (Thor: Ragnarok), Jojo Rabbit is what he describes as an "anti-hate satire", using the outlandish idea of a kid with Adolf Hitler as an imaginary friend to expose the evils of fascism and bigotry.
Set in Nazi Germany near the end of World War II, Jojo Rabbit finds the young Jojo (Roman Griffin Davis) struggling to be his very best Nazi, even with the encouragement of his friend, Hitler (the imaginary one played by Waititi himself). But when Jojo discovers a young Jewish girl, Elsa (Thomasin McKenzie) hiding in his home, he sees it as his chance to spy on the enemy for the Führer.
Like so many of Waititi's movies, Jojo Rabbit is as hilarious as it is poignant, and often, it's the choice of music which helps convey a scene's emotion. Here's every song heard in Jojo Rabbit:
- "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand" - The Beatles
- "I Don't Want To Grow Up" - Tom Waits
- "Frühlingsstimmen, Op. 410" - Vienna Boys' Choir, Gerald Wirth, and Salonorchester Alt Wien
- Waltz & Chorus from Faust - The Hollywood Bowl Symphony Orchestra and The Roger Wagner Chorale
- "Tabú" - Lecuona Cuban Boys
- "The Dipsy Doodle" - Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb & His Orchestra
- "Mama" - Roy Orbison
- "Everybody's Gotta Live" - Love
- "People Like You And Me" - Glenn Miller & His Orchestra
- "'Heroes'" - The Ten Tenors
- "'Helden'" - David Bowie
The songs in Jojo Rabbit fall into two categories: those of the era and those that are purposefully anachronistic. "Komm Gib Mir Deine Hand" by The Beatles, a German version of the band's hit "I Want To Hold Your Hand" falls into that second category. And yes, it is actually The Beatles singing. It plays very early in the film over footage of Germans excitedly cheering for the Führer, highlighting how fanaticism comes in all forms, be it Beatlemania or Nazism. Tom Waits' "I Don't Want To Grow Up" is heard as Jojo and his fellow Hitler Youths are training at camp, while Roy Orbinson's "Mama" plays when Jojo and his mother, Rosie (Scarlett Johansson), go biking. Both fit their scenes rather than Jojo Rabbit's 1945 setting.
Song choices like the waltz and chorus from Charles Gounod's opera Faust are included because of their connection to German culture. Faust, for instance, is an opera loosely based on the German legend of a man who foolishly makes a deal with the devil. The music accompanies moments of Nazi imagery, suggesting that Germany itself is now like Faust after having made a deal with the devilish Hitler. Johann Strauss II's, "Frühlingsstimmen, Op. 410" is similarly used as Strauss' music was well-loved within the Third Reich. So much so, in fact, that Strauss' own Jewish ancestry was often concealed. This particular waltz can be heard during the scene of Waititi's Hitler participating in some synchronized swimming.
"Tabú" by Lecuona Cuban Boys as well as "The Dipsy Doodle" by Ella Fitzgerald and Chick Webb & His Orchestra play while Jojo is having dinner with his mother, and they're both popular songs of the era. The same can be said of "People Like You And Me" by Glenn Miller & His Orchestra, though this number plays once the U.S.-led Allies enter Berlin near the end of the film. Just before then, however, is another of Jojo Rabbit's anachronistic but perfectly chosen songs: "Everybody's Gotta Live" by Love, which plays as Jojo wanders the streets of Berlin following the bombing of the city.
The final songs heard in Jojo Rabbit are actually the same song - "'Heroes'" by David Bowie. The first time it plays is just as the film's ending, as Elsa leaves Jojo's house for the first time, and this version is performed by the singing group, The Ten Tenors. As the credits begin to roll, the song changes to "'Helden'", the German version sung by Bowie himself. Giving this song the last word, no matter the language, is a poignant choice for Jojo Rabbit as it celebrates living "just for one day" and not worrying about what the future may bring. Bowie was actually living in Berlin when he wrote the song, inspired by seeing a pair of lovers embrace near the Berlin Wall - the very symbol of what the future did bring to Germany in the aftermath of World War II.
- Jojo Rabbit (2019) release date: Oct 18, 2019