Who Wrote Lila’s Poem About Marshall Islands? Where to Read It?

In ‘When You Finish Saving the World,’ the political stand taken by characters becomes an important plot point that defines the characters and their arcs. The protagonist, Ziggy, is a singer-songwriter who has a massive social media following. However, when he develops a crush on his classmate, Lila, he discovers he doesn’t really have much to say. To impress Lila, he decides to become more political but truly realizes the power of words when he hears Lila’s poem about the Marshall Islands. Compared to the songs written by Ziggy, Lila’s poem is a powerful representation of her ideals and beliefs. Is it a real poem, or was it written specifically for the film? SPOILERS AHEAD

Lila’s Poem About Marshall Islands is Written by Jesse Eisenberg

‘When You Finish Saving the World’ is directed by Jesse Eisenberg, who also wrote the screenplay for the film, which is based on an audiobook he created for Audible in 2020. Because songs and poems are an important part of the film, Eisenberg paid special attention to the lyrics. For the songs by Ziggy, he wrote some parts while also giving space to actor Finn Wolfhard to make his own addition to his character’s song. Lila’s poem, however, is one Eisenberg wrote himself.

The writer-director revealed that the idea for the poem came to him from something he had done a long time ago. He had planned to learn about all the countries in the world and write a song about them, something along the lines of a national anthem, which would speak about the country’s history. Considering that there are 195 countries in the world, Eisenberg didn’t get far. He started alphabetically and got only as far as Andorra, realizing that the task he intended to do was considerably more “taxing” than he had imagined.

While the exercise didn’t go as planned, it did give him the idea about the Marshall Islands poem, which he imbued with a mixture of funny wordplay and geopolitics. He picked the location as the subject due to the unusual history of the country in Oceania, which offered a lot to be explored from a political activist’s point of view. As mentioned in Lila’s poem, the country has had quite a share of invasions, culminating in the US using it as a nuclear test site from 1946 to 1958. Its Bikini Atoll was used for the Bravo H-bomb test in 1954. Reportedly, the nuclear testing has left several islands in the country off-limits to people, tourists, and locals alike.

An interesting thing about the poem is that it is later used by Ziggy to turn into a song that satiates his desire to appear more political while also increasing his popularity. The song, which is sung by actor Finn Wolfhard and composed by Emile Mosseri, can be listened to here, along with the lyrics. All the songs sung by Wolfhard are available under the name of Ziggy Katz and can be streamed online here.

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