Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Did you say you were on Mescaline?

I've spent the last hour or so devouring a five-part series by Matt Zoller Seitz in which Seitz exhaustively and intricately breaks down the influences of Wes Anderson. Part 1 is here and links to the other sections are contained within the heading. You can view each essay as videos or text, but trust me - the videos on the right side of the screen are the way to go.

Anderson’s scavenger-hunt aesthetic stands him in good company, alongside Quentin Tarantino, David Gordon Green, James Gray, and the other Anderson, P.T. But what makes Wes Anderson distinctive is the sheer range of art that has fed his imagination—not just recent American and foreign films, but films from 30, 50, even 70 years ago, plus newspaper comics, illustrations, and fiction. The spectrum of influence gives his work a diversity of tone that his imitators typically lack. It is a style of substance.

The details in these essays are bordeline obsessive in their spectrum, not only pointing out Anderson's well documented influences (Truffaut, Scorcese, Salinger, Peanuts) but also details you never even wondered about. I'm especially fascinated by Part 5 of the essay, with a shot-by-shot annotation of The Royal Tenenbaums' prologue. It will answer questions you never knew you had. I've never paid particular meaning to the fact that Margot is wearing a zebra costume, but as Seitz points out, there's a specific reason for everything in every Anderson shot. Of course the zebra means something.

1 comment:

Costello said...

Peanuts....it's so obvious now.