Wes Anderson

From Academic Kids

Portrait of filmmaker Wes Anderson
Portrait of filmmaker Wes Anderson

Wesley Wales Anderson (born May 1, 1969, in Houston, Texas) is an American writer, producer, and director of films and commercials. He attended St. John's School, a private school in Houston, which was later used as a filming location for Rushmore. Anderson then studied philosophy at the University of Texas, where he met future collaborator Owen Wilson.



Films directed by Anderson are full of subtleties, and often need to be seen several times in order to be appreciated. Common among all his films is the complete absence of major villains: his characters may be misguided and might cause others pain, but are always without malice. The lack of traditional antagonists prompts Anderson's characters to interact with each other in a much more intimately personal fashion, locating their problems within themselves and beloved friends or family rather than in enemies to be defeated.

Anderson cites his influences as including in particular French New Wave directors such as Franois Truffaut and Louis Malle, with whom his films share vivid characterization and a tragicomic sensibility: Anderson's works are considered comedies, though they appeal to an acquired sense of humor. Those who acquire this taste become avid fans and look forward to the release of each new film. Contemporary works with similar philosophies of story and character interaction might include Jeunet's Amlie (2001) or, less obviously, Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation (2003). (And as with Lost in Translation, the music of Anderson's films has become increasingly integral to the action, to the point where most of the soundtrack to The Life Aquatic was performed live by actor/musician Seu Jorge.)

Anderson's more recent films, notably The Royal Tenenbaums (2001) and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004), have a pageant-like feel. The camera remains stationary in many instances, allowing the audience to study the focus of the scene. The scenes themselves are framed with detailed props, background characters, and vibrant colors, all of which supports and enriches the main characters and their emotionally open dialogue. Anderson is also adept at incorporating elements of theater into his films, such as the plays and scene cues in Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums or the elaborate sets exposed to the audience during The Life Aquatic.

His films can also be seen in terms of the traditional Christian themes of grace, forgiveness, and reconciliation. No one—not even a washout like Herman Blume (Bill Murray in Rushmore) nor a deceitful schmuck like Royal Tenenbaum (Gene Hackman in The Royal Tenenbaums)—is beyond redemption. Anderson's characters are separated by all kinds of barriers, but the barriers are gradually overcome as they recognize the flaws and true desires in themselves and others. Typically, an Anderson film ends with several different narrative threads being resolved, relationships being restored, and things both trivial and significant being brought back to their rightful places.

Also of note: Each Anderson film involves some characters in uniforms or jumpsuits, and each film ends in slow-motion. Actor Owen Wilson co-wrote Wes Anderson's first three films and appeared in all of Anderson's films except Rushmore, while actor Bill Murray has been in three Anderson features. The director has also employed Devo singer Mark Mothersbaugh as a composer and soundtrack-compiler for all of his movies.

Recent work

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou marked Anderson's first use of serious special effects, as the creatures of the underwater locales featured in the movie were created through stop-motion animation. His interest in stop-motion animation will emerge as a full-length project, his next film: a claymation adaptation of the Roald Dahl book, Fantastic Mr Fox.

In 2005, Anderson produced The Squid and the Whale, directed by Life Aquatic co-writer Noah Baumbach. It garnered two awards at the Sundance Film Festival.


Anderson is also unique in that he is the only filmmaker whose films are guaranteed a spot on the prestigious Criterion Collection DVD label. Both the Tenenbaums and Life Aquatic discs were in preparation as the films themselves were in production; usually, it is after the film has been released that Criterion selects a film as meriting the Criterion spine label.

If you liked Wes Anderson, you might like...

Both directors have much in common with Anderson, both stylistically and thematically.


External links

it:Wes Anderson ja:ウェス・アンダーソン pt:Wes Anderson sv:Wes Anderson


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