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Watching a Wes Anderson film is an event. In my mind, his films are not mere stories which I enter into, instead leaping beyond the screens they flicker upon and embedding themselves into my consciousness. When I see the well-known titles, I see the appendages of time and atmosphere attached to them, vestiges of the memories I created upon first engaging with each distinctive Anderson universe. For example, The Grand Budapest Hotel does not inhabit space in my mind in terms of mere plot content, but is inextricably tied to an evening in that hazy, liminal time in the run up to the New Year of 2015. On the way home from the cinema, the light was tinged with a dusky glow. I sat at a petrol station alone in the car. It was quiet, with no one around except for the station attendant. I sat silently as the last ninety minutes arranged themselves in my thoughts.

"His name, stamped so proudly before each film and woven into each corner of the films themselves, was no longer a static entity. That name was now a tangible part of my own cultural landscape."


The Grand Budapest Hotel was the first film of Wes Anderson's I had ever seen in the cinema. His name, stamped so proudly before each film and woven into each corner of the films themselves, was no longer a static entity. That name was now a tangible part of my own cultural landscape. A man I had been admiring as a dreamlike character was now being talked about in the newspaper. This wasn’t just some strange director I couldn’t quite get my head around: he was a piece of the modern world. 

The same momentous quality goes for the memory I associate with watching The Royal Tenenbaums, the first Anderson film I ever saw. It was springtime. I was sprawled on the sofa in pyjamas, seeking escapism, expecting a light rom-com or something of that ilk. Rather, I was visually assaulted by a film consisting of yellow hues, exquisite flat-lays, sets comprised of incomprehensibly imaginative details and a clever script. I can’t have been older than thirteen at this point and was in awe of what seemed to me a radical departure from what, conceptually, a film could be. This was imagination running wild, delivered in an attractive, otherworldly package; which, having entered into, I could never truly leave.

The lens through which the viewer enters an Anderson film is reminiscent of the way in which children play with Playmobil. Scenes are set, foreign worlds entered into and eventually made familiar. The act of arranging, rearranging and scripting Playmobil aids the child toward an understanding of story structure, which is central to creativity. It seems Anderson never lost this childlike tendency toward entering into realms of one’s own creation.

"Anderson’s films manifest themselves in my memory as aspects of myself; they are not objects, distant from my identity, but have moulded it. The imprint they leave behind means they melt into me, film and self, commingled into one mass."


Rather than existing flatly upon cinema and television screens, the images projected by Anderson possess a strange, powerful quality - idiosyncratic, whimsical, yet able to coalesce with life itself. Perhaps the reason I associate film titles with the atmosphere in which they entered into my mind is because of the power of the Anderson narrative. Like Wordsworth’s concept of spots of time - sealed spaces, intangible, existing only in memory yet so important in the formation of the self - Anderson’s films manifest themselves in my memory as aspects of myself; they are not objects, distant from my identity, but have moulded it. The imprint they leave behind means they melt into me, film and self, commingled into one mass. I see aspects of myself in the films, see flickers of real life, of real speech, of the oddities of human relationships. I see represented on a mass scale, the observant lens through which I look at the world. The little things are magnified, the insignificant made significant, not to mock it but to glorify it. In representing an eerie, intense parallel of life, we learn to appreciate the eccentricities of existence. 

Away from the realm of consumerism, we recognise the beauty of typography upon a delicate patisserie box. Objects need not be void of identity, they have inherent value - whether it be the romanticism of handwritten letters between teenage lovers (Suzy and Sam in Moonrise Kingdom), the symbolism of the relationship between Louis Vuitton-esque luggage and identity (The Darjeeling Limited) or the power of the everyday item: the key (The Grand Budapest Hotel), one often gets the feeling that Anderson doesn’t allow life to pass him by, but is perpetually examining the details. A key is not just a key and luggage is not just luggage: life cannot just be life for life’s sake, and so his art cannot just be art for art’s sake. Anderson’s films, instead, are art for life’s sake.

The Wes Anderson film exists in the brain as a memory because it forces us to engage with ourselves: our contours, our oddities, our neuroses. Isle of Dogs, Anderson’s latest release, feels once again like imagination left to run wild, projected onto a big screen, yet this vision emerges from a lens we all possess - an intense, observant, childlike way of perceiving the world. Anderson values his own imagination, a virtue all too easily forgotten in a society so dependent on the false curations within social media. Perhaps it is Anderson’s ability to curate from flickers of imagination and consciousness that makes him so compelling. Through the idiosyncrasy, Anderson reminds us of what it is that is human.