Today I will share some thoughts on why I love (and secretly want to work for) Wes Anderson. This man is a genius. His films are beautiful; both heartbreaking and hilarious at the same time, he really captures that duality in a way that hits me straight in the gut. Watching his movies, I often find myself laughing and crying at the same time – and if that isn’t an accurate representation of life, what is?
The first time I saw a Wes Anderson movie, I was in my graduating year of High School. The Royal Tenenbaums came out and as I sat in the theatre watching that film, I knew I was seeing something special. I don’t think my life has been the same since that day – I had always loved how powerful movies can be in telling a story, but this was different. This was a highly stylized world that I needed to be part of. And so began my love affair with Wes Anderson (little does he know).
The following is an overview, in no particular order, of all the elements that make his work so amazing and endearing.
- The Dialogue. Sharp, witty, to the point, and always perfect – the dialogue in Anderson’s movies is hilarious and honest. He has collaborated with Roman Coppola, Noah Baumbach, Owen Wilson, and Jason Schwartzman on some serious gems that I have been known to quote at random. A few of my many favorites:
“If what I think is happening is happening, it better not be.” –Mrs. Fox (Meryl Streep) in Fantastic Mr. Fox
“This is an adventure.” –Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (100% the inspiration for my blog’s name.)
“Royal O’Reilly Tenenbaum 1932-2001 Died Tragically Rescuing His Family From The Wreckage Of A Destroyed Sinking Battleship” -The inscription on Royal Tenenbaum’s grave in The Royal Tenenbaums (Not a quote but an example of how much I love the writing.)
- The Letters. On a related note (pun intended?), the use of letters or drawings or other is pure genius. It feels so personal, and adds this extra layer to the character that would otherwise be missed. Sometimes the camera cuts away so quickly, you don’t even know what was said – but doesn’t that make it all the better?
- The Slow Motion. There seems to be at least one (if not many) in each of his films and, man, are they great.
- The Narrators. These films are so centered on story telling, it makes sense that most have narrators keeping us informed along the way. The last clip covered this but, hey, here’s another one for fun.
- The Family Dynamic. Aren’t all families a little dysfunctional, in one way or another? Anderson captures that dynamic in a really poignant way and I just love it.
- The Music. It is obvious that every song is carefully selected (probably long before anything else) for specific scenes. The original scores are also really fantastic; Alexandre Desplat has worked on Anderson’s last few movies and I find myself humming his tunes to myself every now and then. I recommend you check out the Music from Wes Anderson Movies playlist on Songza! It was a good day when I found that one. Music on film is so essential to setting the mood, and Anderson’s choices consistently enhance all of the other elements that make his work so great. Here’s a clip that really shows it all – the slow motion, the design, the music, the hilarious characters and circumstances…
I could probably write an entire series of posts about how much I admire these films. Really, the above list could have been 10 times longer and I still wouldn’t be able to capture what it is about Anderson that gets me. All I can say is, thank you Wes, for these beautiful stories.