‘White Noise’ on Netflix: End credits for dance scene, description

It’s no surprise that in some movies, the characters eventually start a jolly dance: the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movies. Bollywood musicals. Animated movies like “Shrek” or “Despicable Me”. Even weird, loud comedy like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin.”

Then there’s Noah Baumbach’s movie “White Noise.”

Adapted from Don DeLillo’s 1985 postmodern novel and released on Netflix on Friday after its release, “White Noise” is a dark comic, often cerebral meditation on death. Starring Adam Driver and Greta Gerwig, the largely academia film satirizes the many ways Americans try to allay their fears of mortality through consumerism, mindless entertainment, conspiracy theories, or drugs.

In other words, not the obvious stuff of Busby Berkeley-style dance numbers.

But as Baumbach struggles to figure out how to finish this uncategorized film, he thinks of an exuberant closing dance taking place in the aisles of a supermarket. And while his previous work—candid, often highly personal films like “The Squid and the Whale” and “The Marriage Story”—had never included anything resembling a big, leaping dance sequence, in this case it somehow felt right.

“I think one way of looking at the end of the book – and the movie – is that we’re all shopping until it’s over and we die,” Baumbach says. “So it’s a dance of life, but also a dance of death. We like to think of them as separate, but they’re not. They’re the same.”

We asked Baumbach and key members of his creative team to unravel the film’s unexpected and oddly enjoyable final credits dance trick.

Adam Driver, Greta Gerwig and their movie families shop in the aisles of “White Noise.”

(Wilson Webb / Netflix)

design the idea

DeLillo’s book concludes with a passage describing shoppers walking in confusion in a reorganized supermarket—a metaphor for the way we move through life, desperately clinging to the comforting routines of consumerism to preserve the authenticity of life. death in the bay.

“There is agitation and panic in the aisles, and terror on the faces of older customers,” DeLillo writes. “Walking in a split trance, they stop and go, clusters of well-dressed figures frozen in the hallways, trying to understand the pattern, discern the underlying logic, remember where they saw Cream of Wheat.”

Contemplating this image, Baumbach had the idea to turn DeLillo’s confused supermarket crawl into a kind of dance. In addition to offering a surprising way to end the movie, Baumbach realized that a dance sequence would have the added benefit of crediting the audience – a practice that has almost completely disappeared in the age of streaming.

“I love loans,” says Baumbach. “Even if it’s not a fun dance number, I like to have that time at the end of a movie to sit down with the experience. Engaging with meaning immediately and asking, ‘What did you think?’ I don’t want to say. I just want some time to sit with the emotion.

Choreography the dance

However, it was not immediately clear to Baumbach exactly what the closing dance sequence would take. “Do they act like zombies at first or is it more fun?” I was thinking. says. “Both are correct in a way.”

Working with choreographer David Neumann, Baumbach looked to ceremonial death dances from around the world for inspiration. “We looked at many of these dances across different cultures, including some Japanese death and mourning dances,” she says. “They were all very cheerful.”

It literally fell on Neumann, who was nominated for a Tony Award in 2019 for his work in the “Hadestown” musical, to create a dance sequence with a mix of slider comedy and existential horror that could capture the film’s whimsical tone. creative advantage of the supermarket environment.

While Neumann was working on the choreography, the everyday movements of picking food items off the shelf, placing them in the shopping cart, and scanning purchases at checkout formed the basis of a kind of absurdist grocery-shopping ballet.

“Noah felt that he wanted dancers to shop around with a sense of formality,” Neumann says. “Initially, I was experimenting with cereal boxes and various other products you can find in the supermarket, marveling that this is my life. I went to many supermarkets with a different sense of observation and asked, ‘What was Don DeLillo saying?’ I thought.”

building a supermarket

Filmed in Ohio, “White Noise” production needed to create a fully functional supermarket that could be used not only for the final dance sequence, but also for various small scenes in the movie. Production designer Jess Gonchor and his team eventually took over an empty store and turned it into an idealized 1980s supermarket of sorts.

“There was nothing there, and it took us about six months to stock it up, paint it, do all the shelves, the display cases, the cases and all that stuff,” Gonchor says. “I needed to provide a space where the dancers could use the aisles and shopping carts to tell a story and shoot a beautiful scene.”

It was a painstaking task to fill the shelves with realistic-looking, period-appropriate items. “It was just a big undertaking: getting the product, designing the label, printing the label,” Gonchor says. “You have to take every can of Campbell’s soup, every can of Life cereal and wrap it in an old label.”

This attention to detail for the cast and crew was very helpful. “You didn’t have to try to convince yourself that you were really in a supermarket,” says Don Cheadle, who plays a professor named Murray who works on Elvis and is friend of Adam Driver’s Jack Gladney. “Some of the ingredients were actually real – ‘Why is this real meat?’ But the scope was incredible.”

“It was absolutely breathtaking to be released in that space,” says director of photography Lol Crawley. “This modern church of America was like this temple of consumption, and we [the actors] up and down the corridors in these long sequences.

Indeed, the result was almost too convincing. “There were people coming from the street and we grabbed a shopping cart and started walking up and down the aisles,” Gonchor says. “We had to say, ‘No, that’s not real. That’s the best compliment.”

Two women spread out over vegetables in a supermarket aisle.

In “White Noise,” the dancers get creative with the product line.

(Wilson Webb / Netflix)

find the music

To provide the music for the dance sequence, Baumbach turned to James Murphy of the indie rock band LCD Soundsystem, with whom he worked on the 2010 film “Greenberg.”

“While we were filming, I reached out to James and told him I wanted him to write an upbeat song about death,” Baumbach says. “I think he was worried for a moment that he would never figure it out, but he got it.”

While waiting for the song to complete, Neumann began rehearsing the dance with the film’s cast, backed by several dozen professional dancers and additional background actors, using LCD Soundsystem’s 2005 song “Daft Punk Is Playing at My House” as an interim track.

Murphy delivered the finished song only after the dance number was filmed. Featuring rough guitars and synthesizers, hand clapping, and dance-punk beats, “New Body Rhumba” blends references to brands like Panasonic and Necco Wafers with more mystical-sounding lyrics about “going into the light” and “going down the escalator.” frigid Bardo” – a reference to the Tibetan notion of a state between death and rebirth.

Neumann first saw the sequence he had choreographed edited together with Murphy’s finished song, when “White Noise” was shown as the opening night selection at the New York Film Festival in October. “It was exciting,” she says. “I’d like to think it captures the sense of nonsense I love in the novel.”

For Cheadle, it was only when he saw the finished sequence that he fully grasped what Baumbach was aiming for.

“With the dance itself, I never really understood what it was and why we did it,” Cheadle says. Laughs. “But when I watched the movie, I said, ‘Oh, I guess that makes sense. ”

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