/Film Interview: Wes Anderson Talks About ‘Moonrise Kingdom’s’ Themes, End Credits, His Dark Next Movie, Fan Art And More
Posted on Thursday, June 7th, 2012 by Germain Lussier
Wes Anderson sits on a short list of filmmakers who, no matter what they put in theaters, we’ll go see it. His latest, Moonrise Kingdom, is only his seventh feature film but with each and every movie, Anderson’s unique vision evolves and focuses telling original, beautiful stories that are wholly his own, even when they’re based on someone else’s work (The Fantastic Mr. Fox for example).
In my opinion Moonrise Kingdom, which is now playing in select cities and will continue to expand throughout June, marks a change for Anderson and speaking with the talented director, I asked him about it. He didn’t quite agree. We also spoke about how his next movie will “not be family friendly,” the genesis of Moonrise’s glorious end credits, if he looks back at his old movies, feels added pressure being so revered and the art galleries that have taken to commemmorateing his work.
Read it all below.
/Film: Hey Wes, how are you?
Wes Anderson: I’m good, thanks. How are you?
/Film: I’m good. I’m very excited to talk with you. I’m a huge fan and it’s an honor, sir.
Wes Anderson: Oh thank you. Where are you?
I’m in LA and I work for SlashFilm.com.
So I really enjoyed MOONRISE, but I felt it was much more innocent and a little less cynical than your past films. Would you agree with that assessment? If so, why do you think that is?
Well I think maybe part of the subject matter is innocence and whatever that is. Because these kids are so young, they’re not thinking many chess moves ahead. I think the grown ups in the story who have seen how things go wrong are not quite so… I mean Bruce Willis’s character for instance is I think a pretty downtrodden guy.
I don’t know if I feel that my other… I’m not sure which of my other movies I feel are cynical, but I guess some of them maybe are darker than this.
I mean more like the characters. You think about Richie Tenenbaum committing suicide and that type of thing.
Even “Mr. Fox” is a thief. I was just trying to read into it.
[Laughs] Right, right.
And he’s the most innocent one. Do you feel after FOX and this, that your films are going maybe a little bit more family friendly? Do you see that as a pattern or is it just organic?
I think the next movie I’m doing… I have a script that I’ve just finished and that one I would say does not really follow that vein. I don’t think it’s… I would say it’s not very family friendly. (Laughs) I would say I did go from a movie that’s, at least theoretically, meant to be made for an audience of children, which was FANTASTIC MR. FOX, to a movie that is about children whoever the audience is meant to be. So there’s at least some continuity between those two.
Now your films are pretty well celebrated and revered among film fans. Do you feel like you are held to a higher standard because of that? Do you put any added pressure on yourself, looking back at the reception of those movies?
Well I definitely have the whole range of different kinds of reactions from audiences and even with the same movie you could have one reaction in one place and a totally different reaction in another place. I mean the movie that I made that has been seen by the fewest people in America since BOTTLE ROCKET was DARJEELING LIMITED, but it’s by far my most seen film in, for instance, France, where I spend a lot of time. That’s the movie people come up to me and comment in France. It’s one of those things you just kind of have to accept, because a movie is such a complicated thing and if it’s personal… If it comes from a personal place, people are going to react to it as a personal thing and it’s either going to click with them in a personal way or it can rub them the wrong way, like a person I guess.
It’s funny you brought up DARJEELING. I liked it when I saw it originally in theatrical, then I rewatched it on a plane of all places and found myself way more enamored on the second time, which I think happens with a lot of your films. You pack them so densely with different things that after you’ve digested the story you digest everything else in a different viewing. On that note, do you ever go back and look at some of your older films for any kind of reason? For inspiration? Things to avoid? Things to duplicate?
Some times I look back and I say, “This line I just wrote is very familiar to me and I am afraid I’m stealing a line from another movie I’ve made” and I’ve had to go back. Usually I can find it on the internet or something, but then I’m actually quoting myself without knowing it and I don’t want to. I do think there’s something about the kind of movies I do. Often I’ve made movies where I feel you do… At least I stand a better chance of somebody liking it after a couple of viewings. I’ve definitely had that feeling, that if somebody gives me a second chance, they might get into it more, because people are not quite sure where I’m going with this and once you kind of get the whole picture, you might say “Ah, I see.” I do like the idea of you watching DARJEELING on an airplane. I kind of like that.
Yeah, it was awesome. Again, there are so many things you could talk about with this movie, but the one that I think a lot of people probably won’t talk about, but just left me on the perfect note, was the end credits. You spent a little extra time with them with the musical call back and then the animation. Can you talk a little bit about how that came about? The music and the thought to spend a little extra time with the end credits?
Yes, well you know usually what ends up happening is you’ve got some reason you’ve got to hand in the movie and you’re rushing to get it turned in in time ,more or less, either to a film festival or a release date or something like that. With this movie we finished it too late to come out in the Fall and so the thing we thought was “Well we will try for the Cannes Film Festival,” but we had time and so it was really something we worked on at the end.
I said, “Now we’ve gotten in, let’s just follow these ideas.” We had this music for the end credits and it was very… My editor and I, and also one of my producers… Andy Weisblum who is my editor and my producer Jeremy Dawson, the three of us together sort of conjured up this idea of this animated business and I thought it might be nice. We had a lot of artwork that was made for the movie that I thought it would be nice to kind of show again.
Then, very late in the game, I had this thought of doing our own version of the disassembled orchestra with a kid guiding us through it, like the Benjamin Britten thing, and that was partly because when we had recorded Alexandre Desplat’s score we had not recorded the orchestra all together for various reasons, one of which was that Alexandre was not going to be there. So me and the orchestrator were going to have to over see it ourselves and I thought “We can’t oversee a whole orchestra. If Alexandre was there he would lead an orchestra all at once, but for us we could just do it one part at a time in order to try to get it right,” but it meant that we had everything split out. So we could take this thing apart and re-edit it and make this piece out of that.
That is so cool. It was serendipitous and worked out really well.
There are so many things that can be pulled out as “A Wes Anderson staple.” People can talk about your camera angles, your production design… What do you see as your signature aspect of filmmaking?
Well I tend to want to not… I don’t really want to have any signature thing if I can help it. The problem is that my alternative to my signature things is to not do what I want. I feel like if I just do what I want and sort of write in my own handwriting, it’s something that people can often recognize as being connected to my other works. Somewhere along the way I decided I have a kind of visual that feels right to me for my work and I want to just “do it my way,” which is something people can almost predict.
Last thing Wes, and thanks so much for speaking with us. We write about this art gallery in San Fransisco all of the time called Spoke Art and they have done two exhibitions of stuff based on your films called BAD DADS and I was wondering, have you ever seen any of this stuff? And what are your thoughts about that?
I have seen some on the Internet and you know, I have to say in terms of having a response from an audience, I mean there’s lots of ways that I feel very encouraged by people who say something back to me in one way or another, but seeing somebody make artwork inspired by things in my movies is one of the most exciting things to me in a very selfish way. Just to see somebody… I feel like it’s a communication to me almost, even though they probably don’t intend it that way. The only thing was that my father did not like that.
(Laughs) He did not like that the show was called “BAD DADS” and that was the first way I heard about it. My dad sent me a thing from the Internet. “These people are saying they are bad dads and their artwork is related to your movies…” I was like “Dad, they are not talking about you. These are fictional films.” He used to take that a little too personally. Really, my dad is more like… In RUSHMORE Seymour Cassel plays a barber father to Jason Schwartzman. He’s a very gentle, nice guy, and really my dad is the inspiration… That character is more inspired by my dad than the other kind of darker ROYAL TENENBAUMS type guys. Anyways, he worries.
Wes, I will talk to the curator and let him know what your dad thought.
(Laughs) Thanks, but you can also tell them I certainly enjoyed looking at those pictures. Nice to talk with you.
You too. Congratulations on the movie. Thank you.
Thank you. Bye.