What makes a great movie? Perhaps, an interesting plot and a visually-pleasing image. Some may go even further to say that a pleasant musical score is as equally important as the picture itself — others will choose to focus on character development. In Wes Anderson’s films, the viewers are given it all: a unique and mesmerising image, an interesting story and great character development. All of this makes his films memorable and different, compared to those we are used seeing.
Wes Anderson was born in Houston, Texas in 1969. As a child, he took pleasure in creating short silent movies on his father’s Super 8 camera with his brothers. Though he never intended to become a filmmaker, he had a passion for storytelling ever since he was a child — intending to become a writer after finishing his higher studies. It was in college where he encountered the world of cinema, working part-time as a cinema projectionist. He did not make his first film, Bottle Rocket, until 1996 and even though it received critical acclaim, it performed poorly at the box office. Called the next Scorcese by Martin Scorcese himself, Anderson continued following his passion, despite his somewhat first failed attempt.
He was correct to continue since, in 2012, his Moonrise Kingdom would earn almost $50 million in domestic box office receipts and become nominated for an Academy Award. His style development was slow and gradual: being seen in more implicit ways in his earlier films and becoming more obvious as time passed. Perhaps, it was the critical success that encouraged Anderson to take chances at bringing something different into the world of filmmaking. This proved to become game-changing, not only in his career but generally in the field of film production.
It is hard to describe Anderson’s style in just a few words, as there are so many significant components that his movies are constructed with. Nevertheless, as a curt description, his films are detailed and symmetrical. These two details are probably the first ones to strike the viewer and attract their attention. Anderson is well-known for the presence of strict symmetry in most of his shots — something that adds to the pleasure of watching his films, making them more visually appealing than ever. It can be said that Anderson does not tell the story using just dialogue and plot, but also by employing the use of aesthetic and visual tools. His frequent use of a consistent colour-palette, as in The Grand Budapest Hotel, is something that also allows him to draw the viewers’ attention and when required, produce a suitable effect.
However, it is not only for his distinct aesthetic that he is credited. His films are known to contain a unique narrative style, making his plots interesting and his ideas fresh and original. As the plot progresses, the viewer is kept on the edge of his seat, almost waiting for the unexpected twist. With a tinge of humour and wit, he develops characters that may be considered excessive in nature, but still somewhat relatable to the audience. They can be seen in almost every single one of his films: Atari Kobayashi from the Isle of Dogs, a young boy who steals a plane to search for his furry friend, or perhaps the Tennenbaum kids from The Royal Tennenbaums, who have achieved greatness at a young age, but later become miserable adults.
Although his films are relatively apolitical, they often provide the viewer with a reflection of society nowadays — giving a deeper, underlying morale. In The Grand Budapest, Anderson touches upon greed and jealousy, when a painting of a famous fictional painter becomes an issue of content amongst the movie characters. It also tells a tale about loyalty, since the protagonist M. Gustave is shown to be extremely dedicated to caring for the Grand Budapest Hotel and after all of his adventures, still returns to it.
It has been reported that Anderson is currently in the making of a new movie, called The French Dispatch. According to the report, the cast will include many of Anderson’s favourites: Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, as well as some new faces like Benicio del Toro, Jeffrey Wright, and Timothée Chalamet. The film will be set in France, a completely new and unexplored scene for the director, though his short — Hotel Chevalier — was set in a French hotel. Anderson is known to set his movies in places outside America like Japan, a fictional Republic of Zubrowka and India. Perhaps, setting his new movie in France will become a tribute to the country he has been living in for the past several years.
Undoubtedly, Wes Anderson can be considered a great director: the immense box-office receipts and critical accolades are the simplest proof of this. Not only does his unique way of storytelling draw the viewer in, but also in his visual aesthetic and development of relatable characters. As we wait for the release of his new film, we can only speculate about the unexpected twist that we will be able to witness.
Featured Image Via National Post