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Performance Notes and Slides.

All films are stories. But not all of them actually feel like a story book. I feel that Wes Anderson manages to turn his movies into visual/moving stories. You become immersed in the colour, characters, the dialogue. He manages to make you forget which world you actually belong to.


Wes Anderson was born in Texas in the late 60’s (1969). He attended University in Texas and studied Philosophy. During that time he took classes in screenwriting, where he met actor and fellow collaborator Owen Wilson. They meeting helped to kick off a long time collaboration starting with their first film ‘Bottlerocket’. A box office bomb, but a hit with the critics and now a cult classic.


Anderson has themes of childhood innocence running throughout many of his movies. Especially Moonrise Kingdom (above image). This image is of Sam and Suzy who are in love and decide to run away together. Suzy brings her suitcase full of books, record player and kitten. All the things that are important to you when you’re a kid. I remember running away and listing all the important things like that, that I would bring with me.


Anderson also uses settings to bring back that feeling of childhood nostalgia to the audience. Here is Suzy, up in the heights with her binoculars, far away from her parents where they cant reach her. In a secret spot. She says she uses her binoculars because they are her super power, she can see things better. This is Suzy’s own space, similar to one you might have had when you were younger. Mines was in the linen cupboard, where no one could bother me.


He uses the treehouse in moonrise kingdom to carry through the childish, nostalgic feel in the film. The khaki scouts have their very own tree house which they use as a club house. How cool is that? I remember wanting to build a treehouse as high as possible and use it for hanging out and gambling of course, as twelve year olds do.


The best use of setting to make the audience longing for their childhood back is the tent in the film The Royal Tenenbaums. To me it’s the exact image that comes to mind when I think of the dens and camping I used to make and do as a child. Inside Ritchie Tenenbaum has all his favorite gadgets and medals. The things he loves. Much like 12 year old suzy. Except Ritchie is 30.

The colour of the tent is also really important. The warm yellow is really comfortable and inviting. To me that makes it look like a safe place.


Use of colour is one of the things I most admire about Wes Anderson. Each film has a colour palette. The most iconic from The Grand Budapest Hotel which uses soft pastel colours from pinks to purples.

The colours make the films easily identifiable and almost iconic.


The colours are almost like a lense that has been out over your eyes and you are in this dream of a world with the characters. Paired with the childhood nostalgia, you really feel like you are back in your youth.

You can see the pretty pastel hues of TGBH again.


Here is a good example of how the palette can set the mood and tone. These are the same two hotels. One is in its decadence and the other is run down and ticking over. There is no grandness in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Using colour Wes has built two completely different worlds. To make you feel like it’s a completely different world from your own.


This is an image of the society of the crossed keys. A secret organization consisting of head concierge from the best hotels. Wes depicts them in simple flat colours but all in different colours. When you were a child do you remember drawing people and making sure each and every one was a different colour? I do. This makes me think of being a child again, the colours and the silly secret organisation.


He also uses costume to add to the dream worlds he creates;

- The tennis star

- The khaki scout

- The lobby boy

These become iconic and add to the characters identities. Zero is the lobby boy. Sam is the khaki scout. Ritchie is the tennis star. There’s no doubt. That is who they are. The palette and clothing is their identity.

We make our own identites.


But everyone does this. Not just Wes. Vogue has been telling us for over a century what to where and which palettes to use. Look at me. I’ve done it today (hold up paper with Palette). Do I look like I belong in a Wes Anderson film now? (Look for anyone else who has done the same).

This is my identity. I’m trying to show you who I am. Though maybe not as successfully as Wes Anderson.


Here you can see Monsieur Gustave of The Grand Budapest hotel about to perform his daily duties throughout the hotel. You’ll see on the next slide what the movement is actually like. But Anderson uses the camera and long expansive sets to make you feel inclusive in the characters actions.


The Camera follows monsieur Gustave through the hotel and his daily duties, frivolous and important. You follow him. You are with him. You start to believe you are with him. You follow the interior as he moves and you see the visual elements that make up his world, the one you have just joined.


Perspective is also another way Anderson immerses you in the film and makes you believe you are part of it. This still makes me feel a little uneasy. I feel a little like a child that’s draw on the walls and all the adults are looking at me like I’m the worst person in the world.

Do you remember doing something wrong and your parents looking at you like this?


The is a still from the Darjeeling Ltd. A film about three brothers who don’t like each other particularly much. Anderson is famous for his symmetrical shots and in this one it helps to make you feel like you are sitting across from the three brothers. It’s such an awkward scene and you feel part of it.


Anderson’s attention to detail is unbelievable. This is a life sized set for the Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou. You can see the people (point). The Camera tracks along and follows the actors as they move. It feels real and liveable. The ship the Belafonte, feels like somewhere you could actually be.


Anderson’s attention to detail is unbelievable. This is a life sized set for the Aquatic Life of Steve Zissou. You can see the people (point). The Camera tracks along and follows the actors as they move. It feels real and liveable. The ship the Belafonte, feels like somewhere you could actually be.


Anderson also uses miniature models as set. The detail and craftsmanship put into these models goes beyond perfectionism. The models are such good quality they are actually used for exterior shots instead of CGI. There is something quite nostalgic about that. The miniatures also make me think of playing with dolls houses when I was younger. I feel like the funicular going up the hill will stop any second and I’ll be able to pick it up and play with it.


Wes Anderson creates an environment that encapsulates the audience. He creates his own world. I really admire his technique and use of visual elements to create this bubble. As a designer, I want to be able to create environments where people forget who they are and feel like they are in a completely different world.

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