PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Wes Anderson

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Wes Anderson is one of the most influential filmmakers of his generation. With storybook-like imagery, and highly stylized production design and cinematography he is the definition of an auteur and certainly one of my favourite filmmakers working today. His stories are as fun and interesting as his visual flair so it isn’t hard to see why he is nominated for an Academy Award this year alongside his Moonrise Kingdom co-writer, Roman Coppola for Best Original Screenplay.

While I feel I have a natural predisposition for visually bold filmmaking I’ve also fallen in love with Anderson’s aesthetic due to his wide variety of influences which uniformly affect his work. Peanuts, Orson Welles, Louis Malle, Jean-Luc Godard, Francois Truffaut, Martin ScorseseRichard LesterMike NicholsHal Ashby, and of course, J.D. Salinger, as discussed in this great essay from The Museum of the Moving Image, penetrate his work. As a cinephile and pop culture junkie it is that kind of attention to detail in all of his films that make him stand out in the crowd. What fascinates me most I suppose is what Matt Zoller Seitz refers to asmaterial synecdoche—showcasing objects, locations, or articles of clothing that define whole personalities, relationships, or conflicts.” This alone cuts to the core of what production design is and why Anderson’s films are so well-designed despite being logistically ambitious and overtly in your face.

Some may not like his singular vision of a quirky universe none of us will ever know but thankfully that has never stopped him. In a cinematic landscape often overloaded with over-rated cookie-cutter films made to sedate a seemingly unaware public, Wes Anderson’s films are a welcome breath of fresh air in my books.

Without further ado, here is this month’s ‘Production Design Porn':

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BOTTLE ROCKET (1996)

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Logline: Bottle Rocket focuses on a trio of friends and their elaborate plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run.

Production Designer: David Wasco | Art Director: Jerry Fleming

Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

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RUSHMORE (1998)

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Logline: The king of Rushmore prep school is put on academic probation.

Production Designer: David Wasco | Art Director: Andrew Laws

Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

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THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS (2001)

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The Royal Tenenbaums

Royal Tenenbaums

Royal Tenenbaums

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Royal Tenenbaums

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Logline: An estranged family of former child prodigies reunites when one of their members announces he has a terminal illness.

Production Designer: David Wasco | Art Director: Carl Sprague

Set Decorator: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco

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THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU (2004)

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Logline: With a plan to exact revenge on a mythical shark that killed his partner, oceanographer Steve Zissou rallies a crew that includes his estranged wife, a journalist, and a man who may or may not be his son.

Production Designer: Mark Friedberg | Art Director: Stefano Maria Ortolani 

Set Decorator: Gretchen Rau

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THE DARJEELING LIMITED (2007)

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Logline: One year after their father’s funeral, three brothers travel across India by train in an attempt to bond with one another.

Production Designer: Mark Friedberg | Art Director: Adam Stockhausen 

Set Decorator: Suzanne Caplan Merwanji

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FANTASTIC MR. FOX (2009)

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Logline: An urbane fox cannot resist returning to his farm raiding ways and then must help his community survive the farmers’ retaliation.

Production Designer: Nelson Lowry | Art Director: Francesca Berlingieri Maxwell

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MOOONRISE KINGDOM (2012)

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Logline: A pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

Production Designer: Adam Stockhausen | Art Director: Gerald Sullivan 

Set Decorator: Kris Moran

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Which of Wes Anderson’s films is your favourite?

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Rose Lagace | @artdepartmental

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Sources: The Museum of the Moving Image, Film Grab

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6 Comments

Filed under Production Design Porn

6 responses to “PRODUCTION DESIGN PORN: Wes Anderson

  1. Martha Camarillo

    Congratulations Rose! You are very pro and accurate. Great work! Regards from Mexico City. (I also love and enjoy all what he does, but let’s say The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited and Moonrise Kingdom are my faves.

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  3. I have a reason for every one of his films to be included in my top movies of all time list. I love the colour story and production design for all his films (Moorise Kingdom and Life Aquatic being my fav for that). I guess it’s safe to say that Wes Anderson is one of my favourite directors. I am really excited for the Grand Budapest Hotel. Great post!

  4. Reblogged this on Aural Visual Reviews and commented:
    Wes Anderson is one of my favourite directors and I came across this lovely article from the Art DepartMENTAL blog. If you are a fan of great production design and Wes Anderson movies, check this out!

  5. I love Wes Anderson films so much-it was a production designer’s dream come true

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