The Substance of Style

A video series on Wes Anderson and his influences
by Matt Zoller Seitz   posted May 17, 2012

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Thanks for these videos. They are easy to watch, well composed, and really helpful to get some of Anderson Influences. I'm working on the use he make of text on screen and i'm looking to see why he's work matter. There is tons of text in all movies, especially since Rushmore and most of characters are linked to literature or text production: Bottle Rocket Dignan plan's, Max is a writer and a reader and meet Miss Cross first by reading her note into Cousteau book's, Tennebaum character as often reading or writing and their productions appears on screen, Kate in Aquatic life is journalist who want to tell the truth about Zissou, she's reading novels to her futur child and she wrote a letter to Ned before he died, Steve and ned first meet each other by letters, One of the brothers in DL is a writer, etc. Maybe you could help me a bit about some points: -Do you know if the way Anderson use text on screen to reproduce people talk or writing (as in Tennebaum Telegram scene, Zissou scream's, Budapest love letter) is someting that have been made before? I saw the Peanuts show influence and it's great help but I don't know how to find if there is any other examples in movie History. - What the use of Futura Typefont means? -Have you an Idea of why this using of text and literature can be so important? And how it differs from others cineasts? For me that's a way to show what people are and think, they look to be as honnest as possible in their letter, or if they aren't you can see their real inside by the way he show's text (Rushmore Max "friend"'s letter, wrote with Crayola). Also Showing text on screen can create a direct relation from cineast to spectator. As if you were reading his own production. I'm from Switzerland and i'm speaking french, so my english is messy, and i'm pretty at the beginning of my work so I'm a bit lost. Thanks if you can take bit of time to answer a small part of any of these questions. Thanks for your article and book. Clément
Uolmo   posted 28.04.15

Very interesting about "Hey Jude." Anderson's taste in music is superb. His use of Nico singing "These Days" (written for her by her 15 year-old lover Jackson Browne) in "Tenenbaums" is spectacular. So is The Kinks' "This Time Tomorrow" in "The Darjeeling Limited." Phillipe Garrel also used it to great effect in "Les Amants Reguliers"
David Ehrenstein   posted 19.05.12

Gotcha. Just wanted to add that point because when I saw that shot for the first time all I could think was "OMG it's 'Lola Montes'!"
David Ehrenstein   posted 19.05.12

David: The prow shot from Aquatic was juxtaposed with the Kane opera house shot to illustrate Anderson's fondness for "train set"-style spectacular shots. Didn't mean to imply that one directly inspired the other.
Matthew Seitz   posted 18.05.12

Calder Willingham didn't write "The Graduate." The Ashby film that has the most in common with Anderson's work is "Second-Hand Hearts."
David Ehrenstein   posted 17.05.12

The shot of Bill Murray walking to the prow of the ship in "The Life Acquatic" is actually a tribute to a shot in "Lola Montes" where Martine Carol does the same. This Anderson-Ophuls connection would have been made even straonger had Peter Ustinov lived to do the role in which he was cast -- and because of his death was replaced by Michael Gambon.
David Ehrenstein   posted 17.05.12


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Focus Features
Edward Norton in Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson
Photo Gallery: The Substance of Style


May 18–27, 2012 Wes Anderson's Worlds


Matt Zoller Seitz is a writer and filmmaker whose debut feature, the romantic comedy Home, is available through Netflix and Amazon. His writing on film and television has appeared in The New York Times, New York Press, and The Star Ledger, among other places. He is also the founder of The House Next Door, a movie and TV criticism website.

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Author's Website: The House Next Door