Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Group Hug.

I once saw a documentary on F.W. Murnau which explained how much he worried about creating universes that went beyond the confines of the filmstrip and what it recorded. This is why in movies like Sunrise he came up with elaborate set pieces which showed constant movement. Therefore we see people appearing from the sides, below and all possible places that made it seem as if the story being filmed was taking place not only to service the camera, but as an actual slice of life.

This is something that has never worried Wes Anderson. His movies are miniatures that take place in half-recognizable settings that we're supposed to think of as universal. The New York City of his The Royal Tenenbaums instantly springs to mind, particularly because its artifice never highlights the town that other artists obsess about. Anderson's obsession with perfect framing and symmetry often give his movies an unavoidable touch of whimsy and despite the fact that his work is extremely self indulgent, my favorite shot in this movie seems to add a bit of heart to this insularity.


I love how even if he's placed Margot and particularly Richie in cherubic positions next to their mother, he has cut off Chas' head, not only representing his need to cut off from any sort of Tenenbaum curse, but also to highlight how his intrusion to ask for money seems to disrupt the almost pastoral shot he had established. That Chas then proceeds to leave the frame, reminding us of a larger world outside the Tenenbaum house, is absolutely brilliant.

- This post is part of Nat's Hit Me With Your Best Shot series.

2 comments:

NATHANIEL R said...

interesting observation really. I do love movies that feel like things are going on outside the frame and it hadn't occured to me that wes anderson usually doesn't imply that.

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Of course, of course you make me start thinking about so many deeper things in the film with this write-up.

When I watched this scene what I was focusing on is Margot reading Chekhov (!) because though I'm no genius that flashed me back to all the books I read when I was younger that I was probably too young to get and one of my favourite gaffes is all the books young Margot is reading (she was reading some O'Neill or Shaw at some point, I think, too) and it also takes me to that scene where Chas and Royal are in the closet and they're surrounded by ALL THOSE BOOKS. Which made me very jealous because books are great and every house should have tons.


Anyways, back to your point about the insularity. Not on Anderson specifically, but I always manage to excise more universality from artistic works that don't try to be universal. As in the more specific they are to their characters and themes the more inclined I am to find something personal in them....if that makes sense?

Anyhow, finally, Anjelica's expression kills me!