Wes Anderson: director, producer, actor and a personal icon of my own. Anderson’s distinct film style of quirky, visual and vibrant cinematography has led to him being known as “the next Martin Scorsese.” (Esquire Magazine)
Wesley “Wes” Anderson (1969 - present) was born in Houston, Texas and always saw filmography as his main passion - even as a child Anderson would make silent films starring his 2 brothers and friends. After becoming a cinema projectionist during college, he went on to pursue a degree in Philosophy at the University of Texas. Anderson’s first film Bottle Rocket - based on his short film, Luke, which he made with the critically acclaimed actors Luke and Owen Wilson - was just the start of his prosperous and admirable career. Anderson has gone on to win a Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture and a BAFTA Award for Best Original Screenplay (both for his 2014 release The Grand Budapest Hotel).
Anderson’s main style of film is fast-pace, unconventional comedies, with a serious underlying tone - such as Gwyneth Paltrow’s character, Margo’s struggle with depression in his 2001 venture, The Royal Tenenbaums. Anderson’s specific casting throughout all of his productions is part of what, I think, makes the films so memorable and unique. Anderson tends to use famous actors, that recur in a variety of his films - Bill Murray, the Wilson brothers (Owen and Luke) and Edward Norton are some of the most memorable. However, he also goes for unrecognised or debut actors, such as Kara Hayward (who plays Suzy in Moonrise Kingdom), who was one of the lucky few, as Anderson claimed to have looked at thousands of audition tapes before he found her.
Correspondingly, Anderson’s visual style is one that is uncanny and different to any other directors currently making films. Anderson’s focus on symmetry is arguably what makes his films bold and visually attractive. Nearly all of his short scenes consist of wide landscapes with a central focus point. This creates a comical almost cartoon-like image of a facade that is highlighted by his use of animated block colours. Similarly, Anderson often uses the “from above” camera angle that is simplistic (in a fixed shot) and creative (in a moving shot) as the audience feel as though they are moving with the characters, and become immersed in the films’ surroundings. Even Anderson himself commented that his films create a “self-contained world.”
Finally, Anderson’s soundtracks are part of what makes his films so important to me. Anderson relentlessly focuses on finding the perfect song to fit his scene in order to convey his message to the audience. Not sticking to one genre, Anderson ranges from The Kinks to the unusual soundscape provided by Öse Schuppel.
To me, Wes Anderson is an innovative, creative and individual cinematographer, whose artistic style demonstrates the importance of visual impact in filmography. Anderson’s attention to detail and unique film style has a strong impact on viewers and that is why I deem him to be a modern film icon.
Original image by Lizzie Wood.