Celebrating the release of "The French Dispatch", Domestika teachers share their favorite signature Anderson scenes so far
After more than a year-long delay, Wes Anderson’s newest film, The French Dispatch, has finally hit cinemas.
Inspired by The New Yorker, the filmmaker’s latest is a “love letter to journalists”. Set in the 1950s and ’60s, it revolves around three stories published in the eponymous magazine, and the people behind them, based out of the fictional French city of Ennui-sur-Blasé (Boredom-on-Blasé).
Check out the trailer below:
The French Dispatch is Anderson’s tenth film and has a who’s who line-up of all-star actors so sparkly it’s widely been called “his most impressive cast yet”. It features a mix of familiar and new faces for the auteur, including Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Tilda Swinton, Jeffrey Wright, Frances McDormand, Adrien Brody, Benicio del Toro, Léa Seydoux, Timothée Chalamet, Elisabeth Moss, and the list goes on...
To celebrate the movie's long-awaited release, five Domestika teachers look back on their favorite moments from Anderson’s films so far and why.
“I have so many favorite scenes but from an acting point of view I do really rate the scene in The Royal Tenenbaums when Royal tells Etheline that he is dying, then he backtracks before saying that he really is dying. Gene Hackman and Anjelica Huston do such a great job with the whole arc of the scene.
It perfectly reflects how considered Wes Anderson’s filmmaking is, showing his great talent at casting ensemble casts of flawed misfits and also how he uses color to bring us into his world. It is sad yet funny and a good example of how he sets up his shots in a very distinctive way that is almost instantly recognizable. He is one of the great auteur filmmakers who really uses every element to his films' advantage - cast, story, color, camera, production design, sound, music, editing - and this scene certainly demonstrates all of this.”
As a casting director, Luci Lenox (@lucilenox) understands the importance of choosing the right actors to make a scene come alive. To find out more about the art of preparing for casting sessions and auditioning for TV and film, check out her Domestika course, The Art of Casting.
Daniel Torrent Riba
Illustrator, Writer, and Teacher
“The beginning of Moonrise Kingdom feels masterful to me. Opening with a cross-stitch of the Bishop's family lighthouse hanging on a wall, the camera begins to move and frames the rooms from a rigid front angle as if they’re looking at a doll's house (we also see one on the floor).
The children appear and one of them puts on a Benjamin Britten record ['The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra'] commenting on a piece by Henry Purcell - drama and ironic distance will run throughout the film.
Suzy begins to read and, at the same time, the magical music makes us want to flee with her into her fantasy world. She picks up a pair of binoculars and, wanting to escape, looks out of the window. We then see the lighthouse from the outside, exactly as it was represented in the cross-stitch, and the circle is closed.
In this scene, as in the entire film, Wes Anderson has achieved the impossible with an obsessive formal rigor: uniting emotion and irony.”
No stranger to telling stories through pictures, illustrator and writer Daniel Torrent (@danielitorrent) creates picture books for kids and adults with evocative scenes made using colored pencils and pastels. To find out more, take a look at his course Expressive Illustration Line by Line.
The opening scene of Moonrise Kingdom is also one that really stuck with analog photographer Albert Roig, here he explains why:
“It’s always hard to pick ‘one’ shot from Wes Anderson. Wes’ work is so complete that one of the joys of his movies is the whole pack, from the music to the dresses, the color palettes, and the dialogs.
As a photographer, one of the scenes that stuck in the back of my head is from Moonrise Kingdom, a scene inside the house where I believe it's dinner time.
The camera is in the center in between four rooms, it swings from space to room with the soundtrack of the dialog, and every shot is Anderson: symmetrical, perfectly aligned, beautifully lit, and placing you inside the setting as if you were another kid in the house, dreaming along the 93 minutes the film lasts.”
Founder of Carmencita Film Lab - a lab set up by photographers for photographers - Albert Roig (@carmencita_film_lab) is a master of film photography, using it to create artistic portraits. To find out more about the basics of analog photography or what Albert does, check out his course Introduction to Analog Photography.
Director and Visual Artist
"I don’t know for sure that it’s one of my favorite scenes in his filmography, but I do think the scene that opens Wes Anderson's second film, Rushmore Academy, is an excellent way to introduce its protagonist, Max Fischer.
The eccentric son of a humble barber, he's a clear underdog among the wealthier elite at his prep school, Rushmore Academy, and compensates for his limited income with maximum talent. He attends 19 extra-curricular classes and is unable to accept the word ‘no’ in reference to any of his whims.
In his mind, he is the true king of Rushmore Academy and this is masterfully established by the director in the first scene where he portrays him as an overachiever, only to reveal that it’s nothing more than a dream in his head.”
César Pesquera (@cesarpesquera) is a film director and visual artist. In his Domestika course, Introduction to Film Direction, he talks you through the basics from how to approach the script for a scene, assemble a team, and plan a shoot, to translating your ideas into a visual language.
Photographer and Filmmaker
“My pick is a scene from Wes Anderson's movie The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, released in 2004. In this scene, the oceanographer and documentarian Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) saves Ned (Owen Wilson) from drowning.
Ned is probably Steve’s son and, because of that, Steve lets him join his mission [to track down a mythical shark] even though he (Ned) can't swim. Klaus (Willem Dafoe), who considers himself the son Steve had never had, is also in the scene.
Zissou is a narcissist, focused on his mission and how it will appear on-screen. While he’s giving his 'son' mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, he asks the cinematographer how they’re shooting the scene. We see a light meter entering the frame and hear a technical answer from the crew.
For me, Anderson is a master in criticizing some aspects of society in such an ironic and funny way, and this scene shows that.
Plus, Seu Jorge is in it. A Brazilian (same as me) singer-songwriter and actor who plays a member of the crew in the film, but also sings Portuguese covers of David Bowie's songs. That’s something Wes also masters: bringing over such different and weird things and making it work.
I also recommend this album/soundtrack from the movie:”
Brazilian photographer and filmmaker Rafael Jacinto (@rafajacinto) uses photography and film to convey a moment through images - always using a DSLR camera. In his Domestika course, Creating Documentary Short Films with a DSLR Camera, he’ll teach you how to produce a complete audiovisual project from script to post-production using a DSLR.
What are your favorite moments from Wes Anderson's films? Let us know in the comments below.
And, if you're interested in exploring the world of filmmaking, check out Domestika's photography and video courses for expert lessons on everything from scriptwriting to casting, directing, post-production, and more.