[1] The French Dispatch (2021)


Born in Houston, Texas on May 1st, 1969, Wes Anderson has since made a name for himself as one of the most visually creative and thought provoking directors of our time. His style is defined by one word in particular: Symmetry. This serves as both a visual aid that draws the viewer’s focus, while also being used as a narrative element to emphasize conflict and emotion. The following scenes highlight Wes Anderson’s use of symmetry as a means of capturing the viewer’s attention. Some scenes feature the main character front and center, while others are disproportionately shifted off to the right or left. These all have the main effect of drawing the naked eye to a focal point on the screen, where the main action is unfolding. Yet, if the eye wanders, there is a discovery of the plentiful detail that is hidden behind the main events. Cluttered scenes appear so neatly organized that it is easy to miss the minute touches that bring life to the setting. Wes Anderson succeeds in creating worlds that truly feel alive through this guided attention, allowing viewers to simultaneously engage with the emotions of the characters, and expertly dissect their inner thoughts.

[2] Isle of Dogs (2018)


[3] The French Dispatch (2021)


[4] The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)


[5] Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009)


Wes Anderson also utilizes a technique called “Planimetric Composition,” where the foreground, midground, and background of his scenes appear as flat planes. This is akin to the early stages of Disney animations, where 3D environments were created through physical layers of watercolor scenes. This has the opposite effect when shot in real-life, transforming 3D sets into flat layers through which the characters only move in cardinal directions: Left, Right, Forwards, and Backwards. This is referred to as “Compass Point Editing” and is especially apparent in shots where he pans between different characters in a scene. These pans are always 90 or 180 degrees, akin to shifting the focus between 4 sides of a box. The combination of these two techniques creates an “uncanny valley” effect, where the characters are framed unnaturally, yet their actions and words are spoken so realistically, the viewer can’t help but become invested in the moment of the scene.

[6] Isle of Dogs (2018)


[7] The French Dispatch (2021)


These techniques are what separate Wes Anderson from other filmmakers. While most directors strive to tell a story in such a way, you forget you are watching a movie, Wes Anderson draws attention to the fact you are watching a film, and uses that to expand the definition of what constitutes quality cinema. His unnaturally perfect environments, and the stiltedness through which his characters move are all ways that he “pulls back the curtain” and shows his audience what it takes to create a memorable scene. Consistently, he features shots that are clearly models, such as the ship from The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which is bisected in an entirely unrealistic manner. Yet this surreal imagery only adds to the ongoing narrative, because the audience is able to see the characters they are already familiar with at home in their natural habitat.

[8] The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)


[9] The Darjeeling Limited (2007)


Instead of relying on spoken dialogue or momentous soundtracks, every single moment in Wes Anderson’s films is a work of art that could be framed as a standalone picture. Whether it is an establishing shot from a distance, or a close-up of a character reflecting upon their actions, the narrative is conveyed to the eyes first. This is why I admire Wes Anderson. He chooses to craft stories that transform a simple movie into a complex novel.

[10] The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004)









Previous Post
Digital Picture Frame for Images and Videos
Next Post
Main Project Plans + Inspiration

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.