The Motives and Original Visual Style of Wes Anderson's Works

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Through distinguishable visual style and consistent cinematic elements, Wes Anderson remains as one of the most recognizable modern day auteurs in film today. His uniquely idiosyncratic films possess an entire identity of their own, making his films instantly identifiable to viewers. To be considered an auteur, Sarris’ Auteur Theory states filmmakers must possess three premises as criterion of value— technical competence, distinguishable personality, and interior meaning. Anderson fits this criteria as he has his own specific techniques when it comes to directing, incorporating his signature style in all aspects. Every one of his stories appear to be completely individual and separate, yet distinctly Anderson in their own way.

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Anderson’s work doesn’t fit into a specific genre, yet all of his films represent a fairytale-esque world that feels both imaginative and realistic. It parallels the view of a world through childlike eyes, generating feelings of nostalgia and relatability. This is all achieved through technique. Technique represents the “technical competence of a director as a criterion of value. ” Anderson’s ability to completely immerse his audience into the film’s world is a consistent attribute to his skills as a director. His capability as a great director is prevalent in every scene, using cinematic concepts such as wide angles and symmetry to design a two-dimensional world of fiction. The Royal Tenenbaums and The Grand Budapest Hotel are blatantly told in a storybook-like fashion with narration and chapter title cards, further emphasizing the idea of technical competence in Anderson’s work. Anderson’s personality shines immensely when creating these stories. When it comes to distinguishable personality, “This consistency of style in the way the film looks and moves must be in some way linked to the director’s person—to the way he thinks and feels. ” Within mere minutes of watching any one of films comes an easily detectable sense of who created it.

His frequent use of symmetrical shots are so notably pronounced as his own signature that it is incorporated in nearly every shot. This symmetry is created by lining everything up directly in front of the camera and shot with a long lens, further intensifying the fantastical aspect of Anderson’s films. Any realistic and asymmetrical shots would diminish the whimsical aura he creates and simply wouldn’t make sense in his films. Anderson’s meticulous placement of props, blocking of characters, and straight lines all assist in composing his love for perfectly symmetric shots. This consistent use of symmetry is not only visually appealing, but solely one of his many characteristic elements that makes his art so easily identifiable. Anderson’s films include several underlying themes, or interior meanings, which Sarris believes is “the ultimate glory of cinema as an art. ” Anderson writes similar character types for every narrative, as well as often dealing with recurrent themes of dysfunctional family reconnection and estrangement, as seen in The Royal Tenenbaums. He approaches these otherwise heavy topics with a much more comedic approach, adding to the unconventional atmosphere of his films.

These common motifs are reflective of Wes Anderson’s own character and life experiences he dealt with as a child, holding a deeper meaning than what is seen on the surface. The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou continue this element of familial detachment and absent father-figures. Zero has no family, but he finds it in Agatha, Gustave, and the hotel. Steve has no desire to be a father, yet finds himself portraying Ned’s throughout the film. Likewise, characters in his stories portray those of a dollhouse, exhibiting little reactions to even the most significant events they face. Anderson has his actors deliver their lines with limited expressions, putting emphasis on the words being spoken rather than over-the-top dispositions. Instead, their personalities shine visually through individualistic quirkiness, eccentric clothing, and “inherent weirdness”. In The Royal Tenenbaums, Bill Murray’s character speaks the words “Well, I want to die” with such little emotion one isn’t sure whether to laugh or empathize. This idiosyncratic and peculiar nature of his characters add to the unique world created personally by Anderson. Wes Anderson’s power to achieve such capabilities as a filmmaker without it ever feeling repetitive or overdone is part of what makes him a true, modern day auteur.

He transforms his films into his own personal art, placing his own personal stamp on every project he works on so distinguishably. Anderson’s worlds carry the same inviting ambiance film after film, never ceasing to influence and inspire.

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