In honor of the official US release of Isle of Dogs tomorrow, I decided to make a list of some of my favorite scenes and impressionable moments from Wes’s films that helped define his distinct style of filmmaking.
1. Keep the gun on the table
Bottle Rocket is Wes Anderson’s first feature and directorial debut film. Although the film wasn’t necessarily commercially successful, you can see the origins of his distinct visual style and slightly awkward comedic style and timing. This scene is a good example of this kind of subtle comedy when Dignan is trying to plan out the logistics of the heist with his partner, Anthony, and their getaway driver, Bob. Anthony and Bob keep playing with the gun until Dignan becomes exasperated, shouting, “Keep the gun on the table!” Anderson is playing around with the camera angles and the unusual comedic choices here and, while it is not the most groundbreaking scene he’s ever shot, it’s important for fans who have followed his development as a filmmaker.
2. Max’s Extracurriculars
Anderson’s second feature film, Rushmore, focuses around Max, a private school student who spends more time participating in extracurricular activities than actually studying and trying to pass his classes. To show just how many activities Max is involved in, Anderson puts them all into a montage backed by the upbeat track “Making Time” by The Creation. This sequence is the first of many montages Anderson will use as a storytelling tool in following films. This one being the first makes it an important milestone in the development of the Andersonian style of filmmaking.
In this scene in Rushmore, Bill Murray’s character, Mr. Blume, is pretty low on morale. His wife is cheating on him and he’s at his twin sons’ birthday party with people who really don’t care much for him. So, in an act of giving his family the metaphorical finger, he climbs to the top of the high-dive board with a cigarette in his mouth, downs a glass of whiskey in one gulp and proceeds to jump off. He does a cannonball that produces the most obnoxious splash possible to show everybody in attendance just how apathetic he feels toward them. It’s a deadpan type of action that Anderson will later become known for and it’s almost cathartic to watch.
4. She Smokes
Next came The Royal Tenenbaums, a story about a dysfunctional family reuniting under one roof and all of the shenanigans and conflicts that come with that. Anderson uses a couple montages but the one I’d like to make note of is the one surrounding Margot Tenenbaum’s backstory. Her blank expression contrasts with the wild experiences she’s had and gives her character this wonderful depth and personality. At the end of the scene, her current husband deadpans “she smokes” as this is when he discovers her well-kept secret and this becomes an Anderson trademark; overlooking the outrageous for comedic effect.
5. Let me tell you about my boat
Akin to Anderson’s montage sequences, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou features this sequence where Zissou is giving a tour of the different sections of his boat, The Belafonte. Instead of it being an actual montage with cuts, its a one-take type of shot where the camera moves around a cross section of the boat to reveal each individual part with a voice over explaining it all. It’s a new technique Anderson is using that diversifies his style and adds to his quirkiness.
6. Shark Tale
This scene from The Life Aquatic exemplifies everything Wes Anderson’s films are, in my opinion. It includes his star-studded cast including Bill Murray, his brightly specific color palette, perfectly symmetrical shots and a well-fitted soundtrack that suits the tone he’s trying to convey. This is the first instance where Anderson puts all of these tools into use at the same time which paves the way for him to perfect his style in his subsequent films, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grand Budapest Hotel.
These are just a few of many examples of Wes Anderson’s ability to create a hyper realistic world and story that draws you in. I can’t wait to see more of his brilliance in action in Isle of Dog's and where he goes next. Check out the trailer and go see it tomorrow in theaters!
Comment your own favorite Anderson moments below!