It is not uncommon for film directors and screenwriters to consistently utilize similar elements throughout their careers. Many great directors are, in fact, well known because of specific visual styles such as Tarantino’s violence and character creation and Cronenberg’s highly visceral scenes and scripts. But one particular director has developed, in recent years, a cult of followers that admire and praise his very unique and exquisite manner of creating movies that are constantly discussed and analyzed throughout the years. The director in question, Wes Anderson, recently (and for the first time) won several categories in the 87th Annual Academy Awards with his latest film “The Grand Budapest Hotel”. But what exactly makes a Wes Anderson film unique? For starters, his specialized and immediately recognizable brand of filmmaking has generate praise and critique, and all of his films share the following elements in one way or another:
- Technical Precision: The first thing you, as a viewer, get when watching a Wes Anderson film are his takes. Amongst them, the tracking shot is definitely his most utilized element. The tracking shot, or when a camera on rails glides from one fixed position to another, is used in many cinematic takes with a twist from Anderson that makes them unique – that is, he knows how (and when) to use it, without having to take context away from viewers. To do this, he utilizes his second most utilized element: symmetry. Wes Anderson loves symmetry, and every shot or composition has some form of symmetry. There are even videos that analyze his use of symmetry in each and every movie of his, and whenever viewers see his movies they will recognize this as a core element inside his repertoire. The final technical element he utilizes is his obsession with patterns. Everything inside his movies must be adorned with patterns, from the carpet in the Tenenbaum house to the apples that decorate Felicity Fox’s dress.
- Recurring Actors: For long time fans of Anderson’s films, a recurring stream of actors is commonplace. The most recognized, Bill Murray, gives Anderson’s films an element of homeliness. But just as Murray, a cast of characters that play different roles but are portrayed by the same actors can be seen in most of the director’s films.
- Importance of Family: As previously said, a recurring cast of actors is present in Anderson’s films, which in turn gives way for another of his very unique elements: the important role he gives to the term “family”. In one way or another, family is at the center of all of his films, be it dysfunctional or utopist, and he manages to tell his stories showing the ever-present value of family and the pull it has over all characters.
- Nostalgia: Wes Anderson’s obsession with past times shows in his films. From references to the peanuts, J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye, or even to Orson Welles, he likes to portray his films with a touch of nostalgia here and there. It is as if he wishes viewers to know his statement on certain points of his past life. Another element we can see from his obsession with past times is the way in which he depicts eras of certain times and cultural periods. In a way, he makes antiquity a quintessential essence of his films.