February 18, 2014

The Mise En Scène of Wes Anderson, a Video Essay Examining the Director's Quirky Style

There are very few filmmakers working today whose films are so heavily marked by their DNA, so much so that they're recognizable to cinephiles and casual moviegoers alike. One of these filmmakers is Wes Anderson. Most people know a Wes Anderson movie when they see it; the distinguishing color palette, signature camera moves, the many, many overhead shots, but there is much, much more to be said about his visual themes. Nelson Carvajal peeks inside the director's imaginative world in this excellent video that showcases some of Anderson's best films, as well as voiceovers from interviews with the director in which he talks about his artistic sensibilities.

I know that it may not be super en vogue to admit, but Wes Anderson inspires the crap out of me (classy, I know), probably because Anderson himself seems to be inspired by early European cinema. Homages from the films of directors like Godard (the color palette from Pierott le Fou), Truffaut (the 3-way race scene in Jules et Jim), and Fellini (the Christ statue to that in La Dolce Vita is similar to the one in his Prada commercial Castello Cavalcantican be seen all over Anderson's work.

However, though he's never worked in theater, much of his inspiration comes from it, like the long takes his films are known for. But Anderson has become an auteur in his own right with a style that is one of the most recognizable in the industry. As you'll see in the video, he is relentlessly attentive to detail -- every blocking decision, set design, and camera movement carefully mapped out ahead of time (though, as Anderson explains, can never be fully imagined and calculated before you shoot).

Check out Carvajal's video, which was shared via Way Too Indie:

For more thoughts on Wes Anderson's stylistic approach, be sure to read Carvajal's Way Too Indie article. He shares plenty of great inside into the sensibilities of the director.

Some say Anderson's work has become repetitive. Do you think he should stay true to his style, or branch out? Does Anderson's work inspire your own? How? Let us know in the comments below.

Link: Nelson Carvajal -- Vimeo

[via Way Too Indie & The Playlist]

Your Comment

13 Comments

What inspires is not so much the specifics or techniques of Anderson so much as the willingness to make his voice every bit as strong as the actors in the scenes he shoots. He's got a style and the world knows it when it sees it. For better or for worse, that's what it is. It works for him and the stories he tells. It's quite singular, unique. The boldness of that inspires one to find their own singular voice/style.

February 19, 2014 at 1:04AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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keith

I agree completely. And I don't think it's a bad thing. Hitchcock was that way. You could say the same for Tim Burton, of course Burton's work got watered down over the years. Even Edgar Wright.
Directors should be instantly recognizable, so long as it doesn't take away from the creativity of the crew or the actors. Wes Anderson is a great, and hopefully he continues to find new ways of surprising audiences and keeping us salivating for more. I think Fantastic Mr. Fox was a great breakaway from what he was doing, without losing his aesthetic and tone.

February 19, 2014 at 2:04PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Ken

All I have to say in terms of instantly recognizeable is Kibrick and Gilliam, I guess Tarantino as well. All of these guys are amazing.

February 20, 2014 at 2:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Julian

Loved it.

I'm gonna have to rewatch Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic now.

February 19, 2014 at 7:25AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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I'll just say that the ending to Rushmore is one of the most perfectly crafted and satisfying endings in all of cinema history.

February 19, 2014 at 12:23PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Swissted

Influences me too. I knew after seeing TRT that I wanted to be apart of films in some way. Maybe it was just one of those things that hit at the right time and place in my life but I connected to it so well. His films are a window to a world of cinema from a past that I wasn't familiar with before then. Plus I just love his style of comedy. I could go on and on. Btw, No one needs to be ashamed or shy of being an Anderson fan.

February 19, 2014 at 6:25PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Josh

I've always found him too derivative to be honest.
I get the feeling when I watch his films, it's just a patchwork or other, better directors.

Not to mention that he is bordering on self-parody now with each film a retread of the last, in terms of style and tone.

I should also mention that I could;t give two sh1ts about rich people's petty problems - his stock in trade.

February 20, 2014 at 6:36PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Fresno Bob

Anderson is great, there should be more directors like him. Not doing things like Anderson.
But doing things their unique way. I love to watch a movie and see an individual take. I have this feeling with Terry Gillian, Carot and Jeunet, Tim Burton. You don't have to like them but at least you know it is their world. They can draw you in and enrich your own world.
I hope ANderson will be able to do many more movies, I'd love to work with him.

February 20, 2014 at 7:06PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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samuel

Its his signature storytelling style,i love the strong sense of composition from shot to shot, very disciplined and precise framing.the grade is unique in the present time and all the lements gel so well for me. I love his total methodology.im a fan

February 24, 2014 at 3:50AM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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marc bodi

I kind of liked Anderson after I first saw Tannenbaums. Then as I saw more of his films I tired of his shtick.
His 'style' basically boils down to bright colors and symmetry. Kind of the opposite of artistic subtlety.
And for some reason his stories of the disaffected upper middle class always take place during the holidays?
Maybe I am just bitter from living in the real world, but his films are a bit too treacle-y for my taste.

That and his Prince Valiant hair do are just a bit much.

February 24, 2014 at 1:43PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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Russ D

Seeing Bottle Rocket on a VHS recording of HBO in the mid-90s is what made me want to become a filmmaker. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with Anderson's latest films, which I do feel are becoming somewhat stagnant and are straying far from the "punk rock" director I perceived him to be in his earlier work, but I also can clearly see him maturing with each new project and I absolutely adored Darjeeling.

Echoing previous comments, the Wes Anderson style of film is what it is, for better or worse, and I think that that's a monumental achievement all its own.

February 24, 2014 at 5:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:45AM

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