Blending storytelling and visuals in a movie is never easy. And if the story is original, there is a lot of work behind it, especially from the movie director. And that is something American indie director Wes Anderson is very good at.
Have you ever watched a movie for the first time and suddenly thought: “I feel like i already watched this one”?
That’s probably because that film has a unique style, both visually and story wise, that reminds you of another one you already watched, most likely from the same director.
That’s how it works with Wes Anderson, one of the most critically acclaimed directors of this century. His works are known to be visually stunning and incredibly entertaining at the same time.
Why? Because Anderson is kind of a maniac, in a good way. He writes his stories from scratch, maybe taking inspiration from other books and movies, but they’re always his original stories. The thing is, he puts on paper every single aspect of the scene and how it should be performed by actors, leaving nothing to chance. He doesn’t limit his imagination for budget constraints. Anderson writes what he wants to write, and then finds a way to get it on film, because he knows precisely what to tell and how he wants it to be told.
You can notice this in any of his movies. Let’s take Grand Budapest Hotel, probably his most famous work. Have a look at these shots:
The movie is full of this kind of visuals. Colorful, elegant, and beautiful symmetric shots, almost like it’s a painting and the story is in the picture itself. Other elements of his films seem to be made from scratch as well, like his costumes and production design. He uses a device that only few directors have ever used, hence it’s not very common in Hollywood: Character uniforms.
Every character is shown with a particular outfit throughout the film, so that audience can associate a consistent look with a specific character. This creates some sort of psychological comfort that comes from knowing what a character is supposed to look like. This doesn’t mean that every character must wear a uniform, but eventually his/her outfit will become a uniform in the spectator’s eye, making it easier to be recognized.
Anderson creates his own world and everything you see in any shot of the movie is part of that world and is there to be part of the story. For example, in “Grand Budapest Hotel” he decided to use this technique where the color palette is different for any moment of the movie, to give each era his own mood. Creating a well-structured cohesive world is very important to the American director, so much that you rarely see product placement — at least not for a real product or brand — or anything else that compromises the integrity of the film.