Film Icon: Wes Anderson


            Wes Anderson. The name practically speaks for itself. Independent filmmakers and audiences of quirky adolescent youth and awkward teenagers rejoice at the sound of the name. For around two decades, the famed screenwriter, producer, and director has entertained moviegoers with pictures that transcend the human experience and create atmospheres wrought with intriguing character sensibilities, witty dialogue, and of course, rock music.

Wes Anderson’s impact on film is probably most resonant with independent filmmakers. His knack for writing characters that defy social norms in favor of their own sense of normal have solidified his position as an indie screenwriting guru. The most common example of this could probably be found with his character Max Fischer, played by Jason Schwartzman in the film Rushmore. But let’s take a second and examine Wes Anderson’s writing and directorial style with his first feature, Bottle Rocket. While Bottle Rocket was a critical success, it certainly has not reached the level of indie staple that Rushmore, and The Royal Tenebaums have. However, it’s the perfect example of his flair for eccentric characters, unique shots, and pacing.


            Bottle Rocket, starring both Luke & Owen Wilson, is the story of three young men attempting to forge a life of crime. But that’s only the plot. The true story of Bottle Rocket, is seeking validation within oneself, by your actions, your role within society, or relationships. All of this is explored with characters who don’t strike you as the “normal” type. They have their own rules for how and why things should be. And that’s what makes them so damn interesting to watch. Most of the fun in watching a Wes Anderson film comes from merely observing the characters, in all of their quirky yet profound glory. It’s almost as if they’re in on some secret part of life that no one else understands. Characters in his films are often misunderstood, but are clear in their intentions. Their resolve to do what they want, and how they want, definitely stands out. He’s even taken this approach to even younger protagonists, with his critical hit, 2012’s Moonrise Kingdom.

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            With his talent of characterization, it makes sense that he so successfully helmed the animated film The Fantastic Mr. Fox, featuring the voice talents of George Clooney. It even garnered an Academy award for Wes Anderson. While the stop motion animation featuring anthropomorphic animals is a change of pace from his type of characters, their motives and way of behaving remain largely the same. One second we’re watching Mr. Fox dress and behave like a normal man, the next we’re seeing him devour a homemade dinner like the animal he is. The contrast between who you are and who you want to be is evident, and beautiful.


            Wes Anderson hasn’t had an abundance of monetary success. He doesn’t make blockbusters. He crafts quietly intimate films that make the offbeat feel a little more normal, even if just for an hour and a half. With a roster of collaborators, such as Jason Schwartzman, Owen Wilson, and Bill Murray, there’s not stopping his creative energy it seems. His next film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, is due next year. Here’s hoping that the characters stay weird, and the stories stay poetic.

— Nicholas Graves


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