Two Decades of Failure, Betrayal & Disaster: The Production Design of Wes Anderson’s Films as it Relates to the Family Dynamic
This presentation is a critique of Wes Anderson’s use of color, object, architecture, and costume design to externalize his characters’ internal states of being. The thesis reviews five of Anderson’s live action films—Bottle Rocket, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou and The Darjeeling Limited—with additional commentary on the recently released, animated film, The Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Anderson’s influences range from such directors as Martin Scorcese and Orson Welles to information design theorist Edward Tufte. His films consistently center on the complex dynamics of dysfunctional family units and he deliberately chooses designed objects to symbolize essential characteristics of his characters and the storyline. Yet his deft production design is itself a central character, as crucial and integral to the film’s plot as the actors.
Anderson explores three primary sets of interpersonal relationships: Parent/Child, Spouse/Spouse, and Child/Child. Kathryn’s thesis discusses these relationships while identifying and analyzing the objects or design elements that symbolically represent them. Anderson pays particular attention to the architectural details of his characters’ environments and often extends this vision in a very literal manner to the structure of the film.