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Creator / Wes Anderson

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"I want to try not to repeat myself. But then I seem to do it continuously in my films. It's not something I make any effort to do. I just want to make films that are personal, but interesting to an audience. I feel I get criticized for style over substance, and for details that get in the way of the characters. But every decision I make is how to bring those characters forward."

Wesley Wales "Wes" Anderson (born May 1, 1969) is an American director.

He specializes in weird and quirky comedies loaded up on dysfunctional characters (usually whole families of them) that typically deal with themes of Parental Abandonment. He often has the same actors in his movies and uses the same techniques, including highlighting ornate background details and symmetrical settings, using wide-angle anamorphic lenses, and ending on a slow-motion shot, resulting in a very distinctive Signature Style that makes it very clear that you’re watching a film by him.

Frequent collaborators in Wes Anderson films include Eric Chase Anderson, Seymour Cassel, Bill Murray, Mark Mothersbaugh, Alexandre Desplat and Owen Wilson (a full list can be found on Wikipedia).

Martin Scorsese apparently really likes Wes Anderson's work. Scorsese even believes him to be "the next Martin Scorsese". His first eight films are part of The Criterion Collection.


He's not Jeff Mangum, believe it or not.

You can now vote for your favourite Wes Anderson flick HERE!



Wes Anderson and his works provide examples of:

  • Ambiguous Time Period: A lot of Anderson's works feature either retro settings that feel slightly modern or modern settings that feel very retro. Good examples are Budapest, which is primarily set in the 30s but has a number of modern touches, Isle of Dogs, which takes place a few decades into the future but with a very Dieselpunk, Zeerust aesthetic to it, and Mr. Fox, whose timeline is simply unclear, although it seems like the 60s or 70s.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The main characters of Anderson films usually end the film happier than they started, but still suffering from loss or regret.
  • The Caper: Most of Anderson's films involve a plan to steal something, infiltrate somewhere or escape something.
  • Central Theme: Or themes. His films focus on themes of grief, loss, parental abandonment, dysfunctional families, siblings rivalry, unlikely friendships, and love.
  • The Comically Serious: One of Anderson's trademarks is putting characters in very absurd, whimsical, or cartoonish surroundings and setting and having them deliver very silly lines in a completely serious and unflinching tone.
  • Costume Porn: Characters tend to each have their own stylized, colorful, and highly distinguishable costume. By contrast, identical (but still stylized) uniforms are also common. Anderson is sometimes said to treat his characters like dolls.
  • Creator Thumbprint:
    • Anderson's films are characterized by a preoccupation (some would say an obsession) with framing his scenes symmetrically and at flat, straight angles. The camera is always oriented at right angles to the action, and he never uses Dutch angles.
    • Another common trait of Anderson's films is often characters will look straight into the camera while doing their parts, yet it's not done as an attempt to break the fourth wall but that it's just the direction the person happens to be looking at right at that particular moment.
  • Dramatic Deadpan: Despite being in such fanciful, whimsical worlds and have absurd yet revealing lines of dialogue, his characters are performed with the driest of deliveries. Usually Played for Laughs and occasionally for drama.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Characters typically suffer from an unhappy family life.
  • Episode Title Card: His films are often divided into chapters.
  • Fatal Flaw: His characters usually have one.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Many of his characters are from wealthy backgrounds, but lack any real income.
  • Humans Are Flawed: The theme of most of his stories.
  • Parental Abandonment: Most of his characters lack parental role models. Their parents are dead or simply distant.
  • The Plan: Anderson's characters are as meticulous as he is. Almost every film will feature characters giving very precise instructions or laying out a very detailed plan for the events to follow. In Bottle Rocket, Dignan's plan maps out the group's entire lives.
  • Production Posse: Anderson has invoked a large and loyal posse of go-to actors who fill out all of his films (including but not limited to Adrien Brody, Owen Wilson, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Willem Dafoe, Tilda Swinton, Saoirse Ronan, Anjelica Huston, Bob Balaban, Mathieu Amalric, Léa Seydoux, Tony Revolori...). He also tends to collaborate behind the scenes with the same loose group of people as well, including Associated Composer Alexandre Desplat.
  • Rich Boredom: Almost all of his early films focus on the ennui of the wealthy class, usually contrasted by one lower-class go-getter.
  • Scenery Porn: Anderson's films are all meticulously shot and costumed in a very stylized manner. Critics have described/accused his characters of looking like dolls in a doll house.
  • Shades of Conflict: Most of his films are towards Grey-and-Gray Morality.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: His films are usually somewhere in the middle. Though you could make the argument that his last few films had a more optimistic edge to it. There is also a fair amount of heart in all his films.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Most, if not all, of his films to date include at least one character who smokes, or at the very least, develops a smoking habit (Bob from Bottle Rocket; the three central characters from Rushmore; Royal and Margot from The Royal Tenenbaums; Bean from Fantastic Mr. Fox; etc...)
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Most of the heroes in Anderson's earlier films are examples of this from Max in Rushmore to Royal in The Royal Tenenbaums to Steve in The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou, but averted for his child protagonists in Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
  • Widescreen Shot: He's known for using very wide lenses.


Video Example(s):


Every Wes Anderson Film

This Honest Trailer points out the structural similarities of Wes Anderson's films.

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