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Wes Anderson: Is He Good at Films? Yes. Does He Need to Change? Absolutely.

We all love a visually stunning film that leaves you wanting to change your entire personality to match your favorite character.

A master of this is Wes Anderson.

The 52-year-old has directed and been involved in 21 feature-length and short films including The Grand Budapest Hotel, Moonrise Kingdom, Fantastic Mr. Fox and Isle of Dogs. Anderson is most often recognized for his star-studded casts with several recurring actors such as Bill Murray and Owen Wilson. In his most recent film The French Dispatch, Timothée Chalamet, Saoirse Ronan, Henry Winkler, Kate Winslet and Tilda Swinton are among other great stars from the 2000s and 2010s. 

We’re going to take a look at the interesting and inexcusable of Wes Anderson and his increasingly popular films.

The Visual

Anderson is recognized for his aesthetic and gripping cinematography. Anderson’s style of shooting reveals characters’ identities to avoid excessive dialogue or exposition.

Looking at Moonrise Kingdom, the shots of the beautiful island landscape are intertwined with bright blues and warm colors. Sam is dressed in yellows and oranges while Suzy can be seen with her striking blue eyeshadow and seawater eye color.

Visually, the two complement each other, strengthening the audience’s perception of their fantastical romantic relationship. The background of the sets may seem to all meld together, but this draws the eye to the action in the foreground, assisted by shocking colors and encapsulating shots. 

Let me tell you, I could talk about the camerawork and audio production in these films all day, but to spare my audience, I will leave you with this: 

This man (Wes Anderson) truly has a gift for context. It is incredible how no dialogue or narration can occur, yet the viewer knows SO much about each character simply through the little details Anderson places in the film. 

Pacing

This next Anderson characteristic verges on the line of good and bad. In addition to relying on the visuals of the film to provide context to the events occurring, Anderson utilizes extremely fast pacing.

The pacing of the story keeps the film going, however, when the audience is already missing spoken explanations, jumping quickly from action to action can be very confusing.

From personal experience, I will be watching a Wes Anderson film and quickly go to the bathroom, only to come back and find that Child Protective Services and an entire troop of scouts are in a church searching for children who are now (for some reason) wearing animal masks and watching an affair fall apart. Very confusing. 

But, the pacing also keeps the film interesting and captivates the audience. Many times, I get bored of certain movies because their plots are predictable and it seems to be taking years for the characters to make a little bit of progress in their journey. With Wes Anderson, you have so much content constantly and you have no idea where it’s all going and what the climax or resolution of the film is. If you need something to take over your brain to the point where you can’t form any thoughts, Anderson is the guy to watch

The problem

Now, I cannot write about Wes Anderson and not address the problems with his movies. The most unforgivable of these is his lack of diversity in the cast.

I find it to be very similar to Tim Burton’s case of why he doesn’t include POC in his films. Burton claims that people of color don’t fit the “aesthetic” of the films or art styles, and it seems that Wes Anderson is falling along those lines.

Many of Anderson’s films have about a 90% caucasian cast. Some argue that casts like this are for “historical accuracy.” Like in, for example, The Grand Budapest Hotel which takes place in 1930s Europe, but this is not a justification for racism.

It is also a different process to film and color-correct POC compared to white people, and since Wes Anderson’s whole gig is the visual, it seems as though he doesn’t want to put in the extra work. This is obviously not good and not at all a valid reason for excluding incredible and capable actors. 

The gist of the article

Wes Anderson truly has an eye for film and directing, however, he also contributes to racism in the film industry. I feel it’s important to appreciate and criticize the people that control what the wider population sees and consumes. No person is good or bad, it is very much a confusing mix of the two. I hope that Wes Anderson recognizes his racism and begins boosting the careers of incredible actors of color, proving that “aesthetics” and “production costs” are not a barrier for representation. 

Kassidy Ricketson is a Civil Engineering Technology major and a Musical Theatre Performing Arts Scholar at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her passion is sharing vibrant stories that hopefully encapsulate the uniqueness of an individual's life.
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