Wes Anderson

Topics: Bill Murray, Wes Anderson, Owen Wilson Pages: 5 (2105 words) Published: May 2, 2006
Films that deal with childhood typically marginalize youth as an age of purity and disregard its harsh aspects. Though one might relate melancholy, detachment, and failure to maturity, filmmaker Wes Anderson appropriately associates them with children. However, he does so in an amiable manner that neither loses charm nor allows the adults to forget the child inside. By shrewdly using adult characters that behave like children, Anderson casts childhood's magical sense of wonder onto the viewer. Through this unique approach, the audience can genuinely perceive the phenomenon of childhood. Immature adult characters are only one of the many ways that Anderson captivates the viewer's inner-child. Essentially, Anderson's films lead audiences down enchanting paths and towards childhood with their subtle humor, oddball characters, delicate filming techniques, and fantastical sets/costumes. Anderson's elaborate sets immediately jump out of the screen and evoke a sense of Neverland. With both Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums located in a timeless Houston (Anderson's childhood hometown) and New York respectively, Anderson dismisses any relevance of his films to modern day society. Instead of imparting any social or political critiques, these semi-fictional settings serve to narrate a magical story. In The Royal Tenenbaums, Anderson places the character Pagoda (played by Kumar Pallana) in front of the Statue of Liberty so that he blocks its view from the camera (Anderson, Commentary from The Royal Tenenbaums). Such a notorious landmark as the Statue of Liberty would chafe the film's fantastical texture. Anderson longs for an enchanted New York not tainted by commercialism just as an adult yearns for the innocence lost after childhood. Remaining consistent with his other two films, The Life Aquatic transpires over imaginary islands and on invented seas. The film, in essence, occurs in an exotic world of make believe. Anderson even manufactured the fish in the film with the intention that they appear unrealistic—as if they were the figments of a child's imagination (Anderson, Commentary from The Life Aquatic). The animated colors of these sets further emphasize the fantasy within the films. In Rushmore, green predominates the screen with plentiful shots of grass, trees and a fungi-filled pool. The prevalence of the color green accentuates the organic nature of childhood, especially in the character of Max who naively attempts to skip his adolescence and inhabit the adult world. The green also provides an entrancing landscape for the film, which offers a suitable venue for the fictitious events. In a different way but with an analogous purpose, The Royal Tenenbaums contrasts such urban colors as stone and tarnished steel with a dormant red of the Tenenbaum household. With its peculiar colors, various turrets, and gothic windows, the house resembles a medieval castle that might subsist in a child's mind. Scott describes the film's set as "a fantasy New York of grand hotels and brick and limestone mansions where gypsy cabs meander through the streets and the light plays off dark mahogany, red velvet and brown corduroy" (3). Instead of depicting the enchanted forests of Rushmore, the setting of The Royal Tenenbaums portrays the intrinsic grandeur that rests in a majestic city. The primary colors of The Life Aquatic add a dynamic to the screen that pleases the primal inclination of the kid inside the viewer. The blue of both Zissou's uniforms and the vast sea underscore the yellow of the submarine, helicopter and safe. The red of the crew's nightcaps and of the plush carpet "further saturates the set with simple yet effervescent colors" (Anderson, Commentary from The Life Aquatic). And, as mentioned earlier, these colors facilitate Anderson's objective of sketching a world outside of the ones we live in. To go along with the dreamlike sets, Anderson also designs unconventional yet picturesque costumes for his...
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