These Video-essays Teach Us to Watch Wes Anderson’s Movies
Wes Anderson created his own style of filmmaking, but how has he done it?
Ever since the filmmakers of the French New Wave saw in the films of Alfred Hitchcock the possibility of making “authored” films, perhaps few things have been as desirable for any filmmaker as sealing his or her own film with a distinguishable mark unique among all the other. It gives identity to the work and, in general, beyond a mere calling card, it becomes something even more profound, a sort of mold into which an important part of the filmmaker’s subjectivity and his or her own spirit has been poured. It’s an addition that lets the very personhood of the filmmaker seem to live independently in his or her work.
It’s possible to name many of those who’ve achieved this. One of them, recognizable even at a distance, perhaps even as a dear friend, is the American, Wes Anderson (b. 1969). With a career that spans a dozen feature films, he’s created an unmistakable cinematic signature.
But what is the distinctive authorial mark of a Wes Anderson movie? Answering the question requires that we carefully observe the films. And better yet, we need to look, again carefully, at these video essays that explore the specific characteristics of his style, some of which have given Anderson not only the status of author, but, even more so, which have caused an unexpected emotional effect in his audience, rendering him all the more dear to his viewers.
Two of the video essays shared here were made by kogonada, one of the most acclaimed films analysts on the Internet today, and whose video in the work of Richard Linklater was previously presented by Faena Aleph. In regard to Anderson, kogonada points out the importance Anderson gives to spatial symmetry and overhead camera angles and the effect these have on the resulting film.
The complete series of videos is available on the Tumblr Every Frame a Painting, a project by independent editor, Tony Zhou, devoted to explaining cinema.
If film has taught us anything, it’s that the look of any story has its own language. And certainly here, the work of Wes Anderson is an excellent example.
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