Wes Anderson: The Art of Symmetry

moonrise-kingdom-04Watching a Wes Anderson production will give you a similar level of satisfaction to having every album cover in your iTunes library. The way Anderson meticulously constructs each frame to be symmetrical, or at least with a central focal point, is a completely unique method of direction that will fill you to the brim with delight and admiration.

Anderson’s distinctive style has helped the Texas-born director become a hugely popular and critically acclaimed filmmaker. The central focuses within frames have been ever- present in his films, from his first feature film, Rushmore, to this year’s Oscar nominated comedy, The Grand Budapest Hotel.

It is important to note that a fundamental rule of film school (or so I’m told) is to avoid having a symmetrical frame, because it supposedly creates a stage-like, unrealistic effect. However, as the above picture of the stupendously cool Kara Hayward demonstrates (Moonrise Kingdom), Anderson does not abide by this archetypal pillar of film direction. In fact, the character is in the exact centre of the frame, even her clothes are symmetrical.

This is not to say that Moonrise Kingdom is the only Anderson film to include such precision, for example, his most recent film The Grand Budapest Hotel oozes symmetrical brilliance – from the stunning widescreen shots of the hotel, to close ups of the endearing lobby boy (Tony Revolori). The effect of said cinematography goes beyond being something pretty to look at: it creates an eccentric atmosphere in which the fast paced nature of The Grand Budapest Hotel, and other Anderson projects, can thrive – particularly when coupled with Anderson’s fast paced, yet smooth, panning shots. Similarly, within the stop motion feature Fantastic Mr Fox, Anderson manages to maintain his unique direction, or as he likes to call it, his “handwriting”, despite a completely different mise-en-scène. Within Anderson’s arsenal of cinematic prowess also lies his delicate ariel view points – particularly deserving of mention in their ability to add to the intricacy of this specialist style.

Returning to The Grand Budapest Hotel, it is important to understand how Anderson’s style is not only used for eccentricity, but for intimacy (if you love close-ups of Ralph Fiennes’ face then this is the film for you); the eye contact we effectively make with the protagonist allows for a subtle, but powerful effect. Although this particular element is not exclusively Wes’, (see Spike Jonze’s Her amongst numerous other films) Anderson is arguably the master of it.

If I haven’t indoctrinated you enough thus far, then here is my final recommendation to watch the recently released The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s not just aesthetically pleasing, but has strong comedic elements along with awkward and gentle romance, despite the seemingly heavy-hitting core. Saying that, any Wes Anderson film will blow you away. Be sure to look out especially for his rumoured upcoming film, described by Anderson as “avant-garde” (which to us common folk means “experimental”). It will undoubtedly be awesome.

2 thoughts on “Wes Anderson: The Art of Symmetry

  1. Whoever wrote this is a literary genius! I look forward to the next critique with great interest and expectation!

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