Saturday, 15 March 2014

What makes Wes Anderson's film's so different, so appealing?

Wes Anderson's films have often been accused of being smug, ironic, artificial, and maybe worst of all, hispter-ish, but one thing you can definitely describe them as is unique. In conversation with L.J. Spence and Richee, they've both said that they've considered his films unwatchable or too complicated, but I'm going to admit that I love them. The first film of his that I ever saw, The Royal Tenenbaums, seemed so strange, detailed and surreal in their formality that I couldn't help but be captivated.

The formality of his films can seem slightly unnerving on virgin Anderson watcher. After years and years of method acting and 'authentic' settings, to witness a brilliant actor be somewhat wooden and sets to look like school stage settings can be seen as ludicrous. These are not characters that mumble and stutter, these characters can clearly recite poetry and protocol and, when necessary, swear with elegance and conviction (as in Ralph Fiennes character Gustav in The Grand Hotel Budapest).

Wes Anderson refers to his films as a "slightly heightened reality, like a Roald Dahl children's book", and I believe that is the best way to view them. Like the many stage plays he creates within his films, these characters need to clearly act out themselves, so even the person at the back of the room can understand. There is also something slightly sad and bittersweet about seeing someone pose for their best shot when we've seen their lives be ripped apart in front of us. It's defiant, a trait that many of his best characters inhabit.

The aesthetics of Anderson's are usually what hook many people into his films, even if they don't like anything else. As I've written in our little advertisement piece at the beginning of this article, Anderson's films are nostalgic for a time that nobody lived through. They reflect very little of modern life, instead portraying half remembered memories, shots that remind you of old photographs or paintings, and the 'greatest hits' of buildings, towns and countries. Together this creates a sense of familiarity and simultaneously a feeling of difference. This is a world of dysfunctional privilege that even the rich in the real world rarely enjoy. Perhaps The Grand Budapest Hotel is his most authentic take on this kind of sentimentality, describing a world where manners, etiquette and style are of the utmost importance.

The one thing that I love the most about Anderson's films is the detail he puts in. This is not a man that does things by halves. Many actors comment on how meticulous he is with his shots, and how you don't dare doubt his vision. I will always commend a director who takes the time completely create the the world they present, a gesamtkunstwerk is you will. And maybe that's what puts many people off his films; if you are unable to go in and see his films with an open heart and mind and fully absorb yourself into his universe, then you will get very little out of them.

Whether you like his films or not, I urge you to see The Grand Hotel Budapest and listen to our review of it. You can listen to it in the player below, download here or subscribe in iTunes.

Are you a fan of Wes Anderson's films? Let us know in the comments below.


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