You're riding a metro, going on long holidays, reading a classic novel or walking into a retro café on a sunlit afternoon – make it like Wes Anderson. The summer of the year 2023 had been no short of a candy-floss world on the internet. It all boiled down to warm hues, siren-red, yellow fonts, and static shots—stamped with Texas-born Wesley Wales Anderson's autobiographical element.
But as the symmetrical backdrops draw your attention, the trend still does not lay all the cards on the table, that Anderson has played in his films—there are more underlying emotions in his characters, costumes and color palette—things that Andersonify a true Anderson film.
Anderson's Architecture & Set Designs
Anderson defies Hollywood's conventions- his films have their own vibrancy, comfort and recreation of the '60s and '70s in a contemporary style that has immense transporting power. Like serene, quaint and comically brilliant, all at once, in all their glory—something only Wes-Andersonland can make you feel.
His films are mainstream hits because of the energy he brings to the room. With attention-to-detail architecture and the constant influence of colors, Anderson makes sure his sets become characters too.
“I have a way of filming things and staging them and designing sets. There were times when I thought I should change my approach, but in fact, this is what I like to do. It’s sort of like my handwriting as a movie director” said BAFTA award winner Anderson, “And somewhere along the way, I think I’ve made the decision: I’m going to write in my own handwriting. That’s just sort of my way”. Well, that's just what we like, Wes.
Soundtracks with Electrifying Energy
Wes induces emotions with his unique pulse and offbeat music that truly set the tone and mood of his films to a great level. His unconventional approach to integrating popular soundtracks into the stories creates a magnetic effect that effortlessly draws you into each scene.
The French Dispatch's Obituary surely has a big time on the internet but there's even more to this Texas director's selection of soundtracks. From The Heroic Weather in Moonrise Kingdom which encodes a pattern of curiosity to The New Lobby Boy in The Grand Budapest Hotel that marches your attention straight into the film, Anderson's movie albums are filled with an energy that's surely hard to beat.
Thematic elements and hues
The world of Wes Anderson revolves around a constellation of themes rather than just whimsical feelings and subtle idiosyncrasies. Somewhere there is a dent in parenthood, love growing inside forbidden walls, dysfunctional families, innocence, nostalgia, the revival of trust and defining colors to communicate these sentiments.
Furthermore, Wes Anderson's mastery of geometry, vibrant color palettes, and European-style architecture shines through in his artistic creation, "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (with art direction by Adam Stockhausen). This cinematic masterpiece is a visual feast.
Candy, crimson, cherry and whatnot, this film has all the colors at their brightest, signifying Anderson's use of intensifying colors to convey the darker subjects and there emerges a different world of Anderson in this movie, where there is class and society, money and corruption, wars and refugees and a dearth of humanity (yes, the world of Anderson has it all).
His films feel like walking an extra mile only because Anderson fills them with his personal experiences—and great stories have always been born from the depths of vulnerability, life and the lessons it comes with.
Flawed Characters & experimentation
There is the inertia of flawed characters in his films—mature kids and childish grown-ups, emotional and confused, sad and caring. Bill Murray, Ralph Fiennes, Owen Wilson, Adrien Brody, Tilda Swinton and many more, we owe a lot to Anderson's elite actors.
And when it comes to experimentation, his work "The Darjeeling Limited" comes to my mind in which he metamorphosed the Indian train into what we call the signature set of Anderson, dressed the characters in perfectly styled suits of grey tones while his contrasting color palette stays alive in the Indian elements. even uses colors like white and black for the costumes, during the times of demise. But the greys and blacks are not what we know Anderson for, right? And this is where he experiments.
In some scenes of "The Grand Budapest Hotel," Anderson transforms the silver screen into monochromatic tones, diverging from his usual color palette to illustrate the past or the timeline, much like in his work "The French Dispatch".
He invests in every character's back story and their representation. The playwright Margot Tenenbaums in "The Royal Tenenbaums" is a hidden metaphor of mystery—her refined aura, dark eyes and signature hairstyle—speak volumes.
The rich purple uniforms, the iconic red beanie hat with serene blue in contrast, and blood-red and velvety dresses—every costume in all his movies gives an eye-pleasing and physiological comfort.
In "The Darjeeling Limited," the characters don grey suits, but when it comes to their sleepwear, they don the light pastel aesthetic characteristic of Anderson's style. This choice symbolizes their escape from the puzzling patterns of the world, allowing them to reconnect with their true selves.
Symbolically, Anderson has a way of revealing the character's inner mentality through the colors of their costumes.
Anderson's interest in zoom-in and zoom-out shots perfectly displays that even though we may feel small in the grand scheme of things, our lives can be immense and significant when we look closely. Even the butter-smooth pan shots and balanced mid-shots will make you identify his films instantly.
Beyond the lens of filmography, his writing also takes the crown. When it comes to being hysterical and heart-wrenching in the same line and at the same time, Anderson's understated and blunt humor hits the nail on the head. The aesthetic inter-scene titles, downright hilarious scripts and the creation of an innovative dystopian world that is grounded in the elements of reality—everything makes his films set apart.
It has been a great deal of writing and filmmaking, since 1996, when Wes Anderson gave a shot to his journey along with the Wilson brothers with the launch of "Bottle Rocket". However, his films are like wine; the older, the sweeter and taste better with age.
Having been introduced to Wes Anderson's films prior to their popularization, it is truly delightful to witness his unique perspective take center stage. However, merely immersing oneself in Wes Anderson's whimsical world, with its sepia tones and symmetrical compositions, is not sufficient; understanding his films also demands a room.
Shailja Bahety is the contributing author of this article. With a belief in the transformative power of different perspectives, she endeavors to shape the world through her writing. Her work has been featured in publications such as Feminism in India, The Wire, Aster Lit Magazine, and other renowned literary platforms. For more of her writings, visit @shailjabahety.